Legality & Law

Arguments for legalisation

Despite thousands of years of use by humans around the world, psychedelics were abruptly made illegal to supply and possess by a UN convention in 1971 as a consequence of President Nixon’s War on Drugs.

India had no legislation regarding narcotics until 1985. Cannabis smoking in India has been known since at least 2000 BC and is first mentioned in the Atharvaveda, which dates back a few hundred years BC.[2] The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, an Indo-British study of cannabis usage in India appointed in 1893, found that the "moderate" use of hemp drugs was "practically attended by no evil results at all", "produces no injurious effects on the mind" and "no moral injury whatever". Regarding "excessive" use of the drug, the Commission concluded that it "may certainly be accepted as very injurious, though it must be admitted that in many excessive consumers the injury is not clearly marked". The report the Commission produced was at least 3,281 pages long, with testimony from almost 1,200 "doctors, coolies, yogis, fakirs, heads of lunatic asylums, bhang peasants, tax gatherers, smugglers, army officers, hemp dealers, ganja palace operators and the clergy."

Cannabis and its derivatives (marijuana, hashish/charas and bhang) were legally sold in India until 1985, and their recreational use was commonplace. Consumption of cannabis was not seen as socially deviant behaviour, and was viewed as being similar to the consumption of alcohol. Ganja and charas were considered by upper class Indians as the poor man's intoxicant, although the rich consumed bhang during Holi. The United States began to campaign for a worldwide law against all drugs, following the adoption of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. However, India opposed the move, and withstood American pressure to make cannabis illegal for nearly 25 years. American pressure increased in the 1980s, and in 1985, the Rajiv Gandhi government succumbed and enacted the NDPS Act, banning all narcotic drugs in India.

To this day, the Indian government persists in claiming that psychoactive substances are classified on the basis of harm, however that are new studies showing the benefits of controlled use and therapeutic use of psychedelics. 

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Psychedelic Society of India