Mumbai-based firm the Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO) will be the first company to legally cultivate cannabis for research purposes in India. It was announced on August 7 that the Council of Scientific and Medical Research (CSIR), in collaboration with BOHECO, received the first-ever license to cultivate cannabis in India.
Only a week after Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi suggested legalizing cannabis in India, the first step has been made. The study will take place in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The research team has collected over 100 strains of cannabis over a two-year span for chemical profiling and have selected 20 strains as ideal for cultivation.
Dr. Ram Vishwakarma is director of CSIR. “This is the first legal license given to any medical research institute in India for research and development on cannabis,” Vishwakarma told Mid-Day. “I started the process two years ago, and it was only a few months back that we finally succeeded in obtaining a license from J&K.”
Vishwakarma said the group’s first priority is to select a variety of cannabis rich in cannabidiol (CBD). Following American and European research, CBD will be explored as a pharmaceutical medicine. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), however, will be explored less because of its psychoactive activity.
Unfortunately, India’s preconceived notions of THC are mostly negative, and the efficacy of psychoactive chemicals like THC will largely be ignored. A number of cannabis activists, including independent activist Priya Mishra have also criticized the redundant and unnecessary need to study the most studied plant on Earth.
Meanwhile, as the National Geographic pointed out last year, wild cannabis continues to grow across the Himalayas in India, where local villagers forage, collect, manicure and process into hashish or bhang. Wild cannabis is so common it can be found choking other farm crops. However, as common as wild cannabis is in India, it is usually seeded, low quality cannabis. The nation could truly benefit from taking advantage of the medicinal qualities cannabis has to offer.