Explained: Bhang, ganja, and criminality in the NDPS Act

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained: Bhang, ganja, and criminality in the NDPS Act” published in Indian Express on 1st September 2022.

What is the News?

The Karnataka High Court has recently granted bail to a man arrested for possessing 29 kg of bhang and 400 g of ganja.

While granting bail, the court observed that nowhere in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances(NDPS) Act is bhang referred to as a prohibited drink or prohibited drug. Since the ganja recovered was below commercial quantity, the accused was given bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh.

What is Bhang?

Bhang is the edible preparation made from the leaves of the cannabis plant, often incorporated into drinks such as thandai and lassi, along with various foods. 

Bhang has been consumed in the Indian subcontinent for centuries and is frequently consumed during the festivals of Holi and Mahashivratri.

What is the NDPS Act?

NDPS Act was enacted in 1985. It is the main legislation that deals with drugs and their trafficking. 

Various provisions of the Act punish the production, manufacture, sale, possession, consumption, purchase, transport, and use of banned drugs except for medical and scientific purposes.

Cannabis under the NDPS act

The NDPS Act defines cannabis (hemp) as a narcotic drug based on the parts of the plant that come under its purview. 

The Act lists these parts as 1) Charas, 2) Ganja, and c) any mixture with or without any neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or any drink prepared therefrom.

Note: Bhang which is made with the leaves of the plant, is not mentioned in the NDPS Act.

Exemptions: The Act states that the government may allow cultivation of any cannabis plant for industrial purposes only of obtaining fibre or seed or for horticultural purposes.

Cannabis and Penalty: Section 20 of the NDPS Act lays out the punishment for the production, manufacture, sale, purchase, import and interstate export of cannabis, as defined in the Act. The prescribed punishment is based on the number of drugs seized.

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