Why hemp is illegal in India

1.1 Hemp market in India

Due to regulatory constraints, the hemp market in India was still in its infancy in September 2021, according to statistics obtained. Hemp refers to non-intoxicating Cannabis plant variants grown for industrial applications such as fiber, seed, and oil manufacturing.

The growing and use of hemp in India is governed by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, which classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance. This categorization makes it unlawful to cultivate hemp without the proper government licenses and permissions.

However, there have been conversations and initiatives in India to investigate the possibilities of the hemp sector. The government has recognized hemp cultivation’s economic and environmental benefits, including its ability to provide revenue for farmers and provide sustainable alternatives in industries like textiles, paper, construction, and cosmetics.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the state government of Uttarakhand launched a pilot project for hemp production in selected locations in 2018. The project’s goal was to determine the viability and feasibility of cultivating hemp in India. Several additional states, including Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, have indicated an interest in hemp farming.

In recent years, India has seen an increase in demand for hemp-based products such as hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp-based textiles, and CBD-infused items. However, in comparison to other nations where hemp production and use are more established, the market is still relatively modest.

It’s worth noting that the legal and regulatory framework governing hemp growing and use in India may have changed since my previous update. For the most up-to-date information on the hemp industry in India, it is essential to examine current rules and regulations from trustworthy sources or consult legal specialists.

1.2 Hemp current scenario in India

The existing circumstances may have changed by September 2021. As of my previous post, the hemp business in India was gradually gaining traction, with increased interest from both the government and the corporate sector. Here are some crucial aspects of the current situation:

1.2.1 Recent Legal Developments:

Hemp’s legal status in India has changed slightly. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released advice in 2020 confirming that hemp growing for industrial reasons, such as fiber and seed manufacturing, is legal as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC (the psychotropic ingredient in cannabis). This explanation paved the way for legal hemp growing.

1.2.2 State Initiatives:

Several Indian states, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu, and Kashmir, have led the way in encouraging hemp production. These states have launched pilot initiatives, research programs, and collaborations with a variety of stakeholders to investigate hemp’s economic and environmental advantages.

1.2.3 Farmer Interest:

Farmers are becoming more interested in hemp farming due to its potential profitability and capacity to thrive in a variety of environmental situations. Hemp farming provides farmers with an additional source of income, particularly in areas where traditional crops may face obstacles.

1.2.4 Research and development:

Various research agencies, agricultural universities, and business organizations have been studying hemp production, crop development, and processing processes. These initiatives aim to create high-yielding cultivars, enhance agronomic practices, and construct efficient hemp-based product processing processes.

1.2.5 Industry Expansion:

With the advent of startups and companies concentrating on hemp-based products such as textiles, construction materials, cosmetics, and nutraceuticals, India’s hemp sector is quietly increasing. The market for hemp-derived CBD products is also increasing, even though CBD rules remain vague.

1.2.6 Considerations for Policy:

The Indian government has been contemplating regulatory measures to help the hemp industry. There have been debates on legalizing hemp-based CBD products and creating a regulatory framework to oversee hemp production, processing, and trading.

It’s crucial to remember that India’s hemp business is still in its early phases, and there remain obstacles to overcome, such as legal clarity, infrastructural development, and market awareness. The current situation may have changed since my previous update, therefore it’s best to contact recent sources or industry specialists for the most up-to-date information about India’s hemp business.

1.3 Hemp legal states in India

The legal status of hemp in India is established by the national government under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, according to data collected through September 2021. Cannabis is classed as a Schedule I substance under the NDPS Act, and its cultivation and use are forbidden without the required licenses and permissions.

However, the Indian government has recognized the potential economic and environmental benefits of hemp farming and has authorized pilot projects and research programs in select areas. These efforts seek to investigate the viability of industrial hemp growing.

Within the scope of these pilot programs, states such as Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir have made initiatives to promote hemp growing. These states have granted licenses to farmers and organizations to cultivate hemp for fiber and seed production, provided the THC content remains below the legally permitted limit of 0.3%.

It’s important to note that the legal landscape surrounding hemp cultivation in India may have evolved since my last update. Regulations and permissions can vary, and new states might have joined the list of legal hemp cultivation regions. To obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information on the legal status of hemp in specific states in India, I recommend consulting recent government notifications, and legal resources, or reaching out to relevant authorities or legal professionals.

1.4 How to get a hemp license in India

Obtaining a hemp license in India involves following a specific process and meeting certain criteria. While the exact requirements and procedures may have changed since then, here are the general steps that were typically involved in obtaining a hemp license in India:

1.4.1 Research the Legal Framework:

Familiarize yourself with the current laws and regulations regarding hemp cultivation and licensing in India. The primary legislation governing hemp is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 and any subsequent notifications or guidelines issued by relevant authorities.

1.4.2 Identify Permissible Activities:

Understand the specific activities related to hemp cultivation or processing that are allowed in your state or region. Different states may have varying regulations and permissions. For instance, some states may permit hemp cultivation for fiber and seed production, while others may have restrictions or allowances for other purposes.

1.4.3 Contact the following authorities:

Inquire with the right authorities about the licensing procedure and requirements. Contacting the state agriculture department, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), or any other recognized entity in charge of supervising hemp-related activity is one option. They can provide you with specific details on the application procedure, essential paperwork, and fees.

1.4.4 Documentation should be prepared:

Collect all of the paperwork required for the license application. Identity documents, land ownership or leasing paperwork, project plans, security clearances, and any other special documents mandated by the government are common examples.

1.4.5 Submit Application:

Submit your application for a hemp license to the relevant authorities, together with all essential papers. Make certain that you follow the prescribed format and rules supplied by the appropriate authority.

1.4.6 conformity and Inspection:

Following the submission of your application, the authorities may check the planned growing site or processing facility to ensure conformity with the regulations. They may also assess security procedures, agricultural management practices, and adherence to environmental standards.

1.4.7 License Approval:

After reviewing your application and determining that it complies with the requirements, and following successful inspections, the authorities may award you a hemp license. The license will specify the activities that are authorized, the period of the license, and any other special requirements.

It should be noted that the licensing procedure and criteria may differ based on the state or area of India. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on acquiring a hemp license in a certain place, it is best to visit the local authorities or seek legal counsel.

1.5 Why hemp is illegal in India.

Hemp, especially the Cannabis plant, is controlled and prohibited in India, owing to its relationship with the psychoactive chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Here are some of the reasons why hemp is outlawed in India:

1.5.1 The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS):

The NDPS Act of 1985 is the principal drug legislation in India. The legislation designates cannabis, including hemp, as a Schedule I narcotic, implying a high risk of misuse and addiction. This categorization renders cannabis cultivation, possession, and use illegal unless the required licenses and permissions are obtained.

1.5.2 THC’s Psychoactive Properties:

THC is the psychoactive ingredient contained in cannabis that causes the “high” associated with marijuana. Hemp plants usually have minimal quantities of THC, less than 0.3% in many countries, indicating that they have no psychoactive effects. Due to the link between cannabis and THC, all forms of cannabis, including hemp, are typically considered illicit drugs.

1.5.3 International Drug Control Treaties:

India has ratified many international drug control treaties, notably the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. These accords seek to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and use of narcotic substances, including cannabis, to reduce misuse and protect public health. Cannabis’ status as an illicit drug is consistent with India’s commitments under these treaties.

1.5.4 Perceived Health Concerns:

Cannabis is frequently classified as illegal because of the perceived health concerns linked with its usage. While hemp has several industrial uses and is not psychoactive, it is frequently associated with marijuana due to its botanical categorization as Cannabis sativa. One of the factors that contribute to hemp’s illicit status is its possible abuse or diversion for marijuana cultivation.

It’s vital to remember that hemp’s reputation and legal status might shift over time. In India, debates and attempts have been made to investigate the economic and environmental benefits of hemp growing. Some states have launched pilot projects and research programs to assess the viability of industrial hemp farming.

However, as of September 2021, hemp remains illegal under the NDPS Act, and its production and use need particular government licenses and permissions.

1.6 Conclusion

Finally, as of September 2021, the hemp market in India was in its early phases, with minimal cultivation and consumption due to regulatory constraints. Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, hemp is categorized as a Schedule I substance, making growing and use without the proper licenses and permissions unlawful.

However, there have been conversations and activities in India to investigate the possibilities of the hemp business. Some states, including Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir, have initiated pilot projects and research programs to investigate the feasibility and viability of industrial hemp farming.

Since my previous update, the legal situation around hemp growing and consumption in India may have changed, therefore it’s best to contact recent sources or legal specialists for the most up-to-date information. The growing interest in the hemp business, together with prospective regulation reforms, may pave the way for the future expansion and development of the hemp market in India.

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