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Cannabis - Hemp

2023 SEP 11

Preliminary   > Social Justice   >   Health   >   Health

Why in news?

  • Himachal Pradesh government is taking steps to legalize cannabis (hemp) cultivation in the State.

About Hemp

  • Hemp is a botanical class of Cannabis sativa cultivars grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use.
  • It is produced in parts of Himachal Pradesh though it is illegal under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.

NDPS act on Cannabis Cultivation:

  • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 prohibits the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers.
  • But Section 10 of the Act empowers the States to make rules regarding the cultivation of any cannabis plant, production, possession, transport, consumption, use and purchase and sale, and consumption of cannabis (except charas).
  • The states are empowered to permit, by general or special order, the cultivation of hemp only for obtaining fiber or seeds or for horticultural purposes.
  • In 2017, Uttarakhand became the first State in the country to legalize cannabis cultivation.

Himachal Pradesh Government and Cannabis:

  • Himachal Pradesh government is taking steps to legalize cannabis (hemp) cultivation in the State.
  • Government sees this move as a way to utilize cannabis’s medicinal properties, generate revenue, and support farmers who have long requested the ban on cultivation be lifted.
  • However, some experts and activists are concerned about the potential negative effects, including increased drug abuse, the nexus between illegal cannabis producers and politicians, and the need to address social, economic, and political factors.
  • But supporters argue that hemp has various uses, including phytoremediation, cloth manufacturing, medicinal applications and the pulp and paper industry.

About Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act:

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 or the NDPS Act is the legislation that deals with narcotic drug or psychotropic substance prohibition in India.
  • Initially enacted in 1985, the Act was amended three times in 1988, 2001 and 2014.
  • The Act is based on Article 47 (DPSP) of the Constitution which directs the State to endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health.


  • Prohibition on narcotic drug or psychotropic substance:
    • The NDPS Act prohibits a person from the production/manufacturing/cultivation, possession, sale, purchasing, transport, storage, and/or consumption of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
  • Definition:
    • According to the Act, narcotic drugs include coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, and poppy straw; and psychotropic substances include any natural or synthetic material or any salt or preparation covered under Psychotropic Substances Convention of 1971.
  • Punishment:
    • The penalties under this Act are severe considering the consequences of drug abuse and its trafficking.
    • The offences under the Act attract jail terms ranging from one year to 20 years and fine depending on the crime.
    • Under the Act, abetment, criminal conspiracy and even attempts to commit an offence attract the same punishment as the offence itself.
    • Preparation to commit an offence attracts half the penalty.
    • Repeat offences attract one and a half times the penalty and in some cases, the death penalty.
  • Property can be seized and forfeited:
    • Under the Act, property acquired by a person from drug-related offences, who has been convicted under the Act can be seized, frozen and forfeited by the government.
  • Other features:
    • All the offences under the NDPS Act are non-bailable.
    • Also, no relief can be sought by the drug convicts by termination, remission, and commutation of sentences passed.

Narcotics Control Bureau

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau was constituted in 1986 under the provisions of the NDPS Act.
  • The NCB is a nodal agency that is responsible for coordination with various ministries, other offices & State/Central enforcement agencies with regard to drug law enforcement and also in respect of matters relating to drug abuse.
  • It works under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

Amendments in 2014

  • The 2014 amendment eased restrictions on Essential Narcotic Drugs (Morphine, Fentanyl and Methadone), making them more accessible for use in pain relief and palliative care


With reference to the ‘Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act’, consider the following statements:

1. All the offences under the  Act are non-bailable.

2. Property acquired by a person from drug-related offences can be seized, frozen and forfeited by the government.

3. Narcotics Control Bureau was constituted under this Act

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1,2 and 3