Is India losing a $25 Billion opportunity?

If India decides to legalize cannabis, the country will tap this opportunity and find solutions to the agrarian crisis while creating jobs and increasing its revenue.

Cannabis legalization is a sensitive topic to touch upon in India. Mention legal cannabis and people frown upon it by thinking about the weed stores selling packaged marijuana that have opened up in cities like Toronto and Boston. What people have failed to take into consideration is that India can innovate around this multi-purpose plant that has been a part of its botanical heritage. 

Booming demand for CBD globally is making hemp a cannabis cash crop. Global Market Insights, Inc. has recently added a new report on the CBD market which estimates the global market valuation for cannabidiol will cross US$ 89 billion by 2026. 

This infographic from shows just versatile how hemp is.

In the past decade, there has been a wave of change with respect to global attitudes toward cannabis. Countries such as Uruguay, PeruUK, and Thailand are bringing in new rules to encash the cannabis dollar. India, however, is still far behind since the use of cannabis – both medical and recreational – continues to remain illegal. 

Globally bans have been rescinded as nations realized the enormous medicinal value of cannabis. Studies have indicated that marijuana helps cancer patients heal in many ways. Additionally, bans never worked. The illegal marijuana trade continues to thrive in India, making billions for the mafia. However, the government can still step in and become a part of the legal cannabis dollar wave.

There are several reasons to legalise cannabis and its products in India. Most importantly, the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act was only sanctioned in 1985 by Rajiv Gandhi under the pressure of the then First Lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan, who was leading a war on drugs. Now even as the countries originally responsible for us banning cannabis rediscover the plant and move forward, there has been no progress with the laws in India. 

According to Indra Shekhar Singh, Director – Policy and Outreach, National Seed Association of India, with the stigma around the marijuana plant, India is failing to conserve this valuable resource with which our civilization has shared a sacred relationship for centuries. Foreign companies are making money using our native marijuana (Cannabis Indica) and hemp (Cannabis Sativa L). “If the Indian farmer is allowed to adopt and cultivate cannabis again, not only are we going to embrace a real-time doubling of farmers’ income, but we are going to ensure that every farmer in the country is a fiber producer along with growing grains. This will add great surplus to a farmer’s income,” says Indra

Leaf photo created by aleksandarlittlewolf –

Farmers should be allowed to grow and research hemp seeds and other parts of the plant to boost their income. If deregulated, India can meet the world’s cannabis and hemp demands. Being the land of Ayurveda, the Indian Pharma industry has its roots deep in cannabis seeds. By adopting this traditional knowledge, we can provide alternative treatments for cancer and terminally ill people across the world. Hemp also has the potential to take over cotton and bring a revolution in the textile industry by producing more than 200% fiber in the same amount of land as compared to cotton. According to studies, the cannabis plant has also been labeled a super-food and can be used to make bio-fuel. Hemp seeds have also started being used in the cosmetic industry in some countries. 

Overall, it is safe to say that as research grown, the legal cannabis dollar wave has the potential to reach a trillion dollars. Given our vast pool of genetic resources and natural disposition, once the Indian public and private sector are allowed to tap in, we will truly become an Atma Nirbhar Bharat. 

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