Plunge Daily India reports….

India has a $25 billion cannabis business in the next five years. There is a huge demand for cannabis in the global market for its medicinal value and industrial usage. According to a report by Grand View Research Inc., the global legal marijuana market is predicted to reach US$146.4 billion by the end of 2025; for India, the potential market for cannabis products is substantial.

Indra Shekhar Singh, director policy outreach – National Seed Association of India (NSAI), believes the government must allow research and development, and export of cannabis seeds to countries where it is being used for producing biofuels, bio-plastic and in the pharma industry. Singh highlighted that China is putting a huge amount of money into research and development of cannabis and is encouraging cultivation in millions of acres and exporting it worldwide. “Pakistan has approved the domestication and commercialization of medicinal and industrial cannabis and hemp,” he said.

However, cannabis is misunderstood legally and industrially in India. Under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, trade and consumption of cannabis resin (charas) and bud (ganja) are illegal. Anyone found with it could face up to 20 years imprisonment. There is also a strict ban on cannabis, including hemp, production. Various activists and NGOs argue that the medicinal benefits of cannabis are hard to ignore. They point out that the ideal climatic conditions for cannabis cultivation have the potential to boost the Indian economy and create millions of jobs. As such, in 2019, the Delhi High Court admitted a writ petition filed by the Great Legalization Movement (GLM) seeking decriminalization of cannabis under the NDPS. The public interest litigation argues that the grouping of cannabis with other chemical drugs under the NDPS Act is arbitrary, unscientific and unreasonable.

Industry players have noted that foreign companies are making money using Indian cannabis germplasm or genetic resources. As such, the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) have taken legal license to cultivate cannabis for scientific and medical research purposes to develop products for epilepsy and cancer treatment. And under a tripartite agreement, the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Department of Biotechnology have agreed to develop the epilepsy and cancer treatment products.