Is Marijuana Legal in India?

Is Marijuana Legal in India?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has been a topic of debate in many countries, including India. People often wonder if it is legal to use, buy, or sell marijuana in India. Let's explore the facts and understand the legal status of marijuana in India.

Legal Status of Marijuana in India

In India, marijuana is mostly illegal. The primary law that controls the use of marijuana is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act). According to this law, the production, sale, and use of cannabis resin (hashish) and flowers (ganja) are banned. This means that you cannot legally buy or sell marijuana for recreational purposes in India .

Exceptions to the Rule

However, there are some exceptions. The NDPS Act allows the use of cannabis leaves and seeds for certain purposes, such as making traditional medicines and bhang, which is a drink made from cannabis leaves. Bhang is often used during festivals like Holi. It is important to note that each state in India can have its own rules regarding bhang. Some states allow it, while others do not.

Medical Use of Marijuana

The medical use of marijuana is another area of interest. While recreational use is mostly banned, the medical use of cannabis is gaining attention. Some parts of the world have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and there is a growing conversation about its benefits in India as well. However, as of now, India has not fully legalized marijuana for medical use, but there are ongoing discussions and research in this area .

Enforcement and Penalties

If you are caught with marijuana in India, you can face strict penalties. These can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the amount you have and the intention behind having it (personal use vs. trafficking). It is important to understand and follow the laws to avoid any legal trouble.

The Alternative: Hemp

While marijuana is mostly illegal in India, hemp is a legal and sustainable alternative. Hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, but they are different in their chemical makeup. Hemp contains very low levels of THC, the compound that causes the "high" in marijuana. Because of this, hemp is not used as a drug but has many industrial uses.

Hemp can be used to make a variety of products, including textiles, paper, biofuel, and even food. In recent years, the Indian government has shown interest in promoting hemp cultivation and its industrial uses. This is because hemp is a fast-growing crop that requires fewer resources than other crops, making it an eco-friendly option .


In summary, marijuana is mostly illegal in India, with strict laws governing its use, sale, and production. However, there are some exceptions for traditional uses like bhang. The conversation around medical marijuana is ongoing, but it has not been fully legalized yet. On the other hand, hemp is a legal and versatile alternative with many industrial uses. Understanding the difference between marijuana and hemp can help promote the legal and beneficial uses of the cannabis plant in India.


  1. "Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985." Government of India. NDPS Act.
  2. "India's Marijuana Laws: What You Need to Know." India Today.
  3. "Bhang: The Legal Cannabis Drink of India." BBC News.
  4. "Medical Cannabis in India: Legalization and Benefits." The Economic Times.

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