Legality of Weed or Marijuana in India

In India, weed has a history of over 2000 years. Weed is derived from the plant Cannabis. It has different species, such as indicasativahybrid and ruderalis.

Weed is also addressed as MarijuanaCannabisCharasGanjaBhang, etc., and is popular among young adults for a variety of reasons, such as peer pressure from high school, college or a new job, to get relief from mental health conditions such as anxiety and mood disorders, etc.

Bare Act PDFs

Although Bhang is derived from cannabis, its consumption in Thandai (a drink made along with water, milk, dry fruits, sugar, etc.) is permitted in India. But is weed legal in India?

To answer this question, here is an article that provides information concerning the legality of weed in India, along with some other related aspects.

Meaning of Weed

Weed is a greenish-grey material formed from dried Cannabis flowers. It is a psychoactive drug. The primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), along with around 100 more cannabinoids.

The majority of the population primarily consumes it through joints, water pipes (also known as bongs), or blunts (marijuana rolled in cigar wraps). Additionally, the consumption of weed through vaporisers is also in trend.

Is Weed Legal in India?

In India, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985 declares the possession of weed or marijuana as an illegal and punishable offence regardless of the reason for possessing it. It includes provisions for a graded punishment system, which implies that the severity of the punishment would depend on the amount of drug or substance involved in a particular case.

Bare Act PDFs

According to section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, any activity related to cannabis, such as the production, sale, transportation, import or export of cannabis over state lines, is a punishable offence.

  • The specified punishment for possessing a small quantity of weed is rigorous imprisonment of not more than 6 months, a fine of 10,000 rupees, or both.
  • The punishment for having more than a small quantity but less than the commercial quantity is rigorous imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine of Rs. 1 lakh or both.
  • And, the specified punishment for possessing commercial quantity is rigorous imprisonment for 10-20 years, a fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh, or both.

For the purpose of punishment, the Act has specified the quantity as:

  1. Small quantity: 1 kg or less than 1 kg
  2. Commercial quantity: 20 kg or more than 20 kg

Recreational and Medical Use of Weed

Cannabis or weed is used for two purposes, i.e. medical and recreational uses.

The cannabis plant is used medicinally to treat conditions including cancerepilepsy, and sickle cell anaemia. And, recreationally, it is used to purposely alter one’s state of consciousness, frequently resulting in emotions of joy and happiness.

Cannabis use is prohibited in India, whether for medical or recreational purposes. Therefore, no legal protection is granted for the medical or recreational use of cannabis/weed in India.

Why Is Bhang Legal?

In India, cannabis is regulated by the NDPS Act. The Act permits the use of leaves, stems and seeds of cannabis. However, using flowers and resins of cannabis is not permitted under the NDPS Act.

Bhang and weed are both derived from the plant cannabis. Still, in India, Bhang is legal, and weed is not. This is because Bhang is derived from the leaves and stems of cannabis. And, as the NDPS Act permits the use of the leaves, stems and seeds of cannabis. On the other hand, weed is illegal because it is derived from the flower of cannabis, which the NDPS Act does not permit.

States Immune From Marijuana Prohibition

Although the NDPS Act declares the use of weed as illegal regardless of the purpose for its use or possession, different states have different legislation related to it. Some states enjoy immunity against the prohibition of marijuana. Odisha is one of the Indian states where marijuana is legal, and inhabitants commonly consume it with ‘chillums’ within the state’s borders. Additionally, Uttarakhand permits the cultivation of Hemp.

Countries Where Weed Is Legal

Although the use of marijuana or weed has been declared illegal in many countries, there are some countries that recognise weed as a legal substance. Some countries that have legalised the use of weed are Canada and Uruguay.

Further, it is acceptable to cultivate marijuana for personal use and to use cannabis privately in South Africa and Spain.

Peru allows the possession of 8 gm of marijuana for immediate consumption and the production and commercialisation of cannabis oil for medical use. Additionally, Australia also permits the use of weed but only for medical benefits.

Several European and Latin American countries, such as Greece, Austria, Finland, etc., also permit the use of weed but only for medical benefits.

Furthermore, in the USA, states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have legalised marijuana for recreational use. Georgia permits weed consumption but declares its sale or cultivation as illegal.

Should Weed Be Legalised In India?

As every aspect has two sides. Similarly, weed has pros and cons.

If we talk in favour, it should be legalised in India. Declaring cannabis legal will have several benefits as it has medicinal uses and will contribute to the economy. The Hemp seeds of cannabis have nutritional benefits. It will also provide a new way for the government to collect taxes.

Additionally, weed is beneficial for treating post-chemotherapy side effects, arthritis, skin disease, mental health, and metabolic issues.

Proper statutory laws in India can control the illegal transportation of weed or marijuana. Legalising weed will also help reduce black marketing because even though it is illegal, a person can easily access it.

Further, if we talk against it, no hard evidence supports weed’s medicinal use. The long-term use of weed can result in permanent cognitive deficiency and mental health problems such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. It can also cause harm and damage to the lungs.


It can be concluded that smoking weed is illegal in India. The NDPS Act of 1985 specifies the penalty for carrying marijuana based on the quantity. Still, some states in the country, such as Odisha and Uttarakhand, have no penalties concerning weed.

Further, when discussing whether it should be legalised, there are two aspects. One is in favour, and the other is against it. Legalising weed will be beneficial for the economy but not for human health.

What are your opinions on this? Should weed be legalised in India? What will be the changes in society and livelihoods after weed is legalised?

Subhashini Parihar
WritingLaw » Law Q&A » What Is the Legality of Weed, Marijuana, and Bhang in India? Law Study Material
If you are a regular reader, please consider buying the Law PDFs and MCQ Tests. You will love them. You may also support us with any amount you like. Thank You.