- Three major science administrators in India — The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Council for Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnolgy — are getting together to promote research in herbal drugs, some of which involve deriving new drugs from marijuana.
- Among the first such studies likely to kick off is joint investigation by the CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM) and the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai.
- Here researchers will test whether strains of marijuana grown at the CSIR-IIIM campus in Jammu could be effective in the treatment of breast cancer, sickle-cell anaemia as well as be “bio-equivalent” (similar in make-up and effect) to marijuana-derived drugs already approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA)
- Marijuana (or hemp), more formally parts of the cannabis super-family, is illegal for commercial cultivation though it grows as weed in several parts of the country. Uttarakhand, Jammu and — as of this month Uttar Pradesh — have allowed restricted cultivation of the plant for medical research.
- Marijuana is a greenish-grey mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of Cannabis sativa – the hemp plant.
- Most people smoke marijuana, though it can also be used in other forms such as edibles, powders and oils.
- It used for controlling pain for medical issues, like cancer, nervous system diseases, glaucoma, migraines, etc and also used to treat nausea and improve appetites for people with HIV or other chronic illnesses.
- Cannabis is banned in most countries but number countries have started decriminalising its use in recent years.
What is its historic significance in India?
- Cannabis has been used since ancient times in India, dating back to 2000 BCE.
- The cannabis plant has been mentioned as one of the five sacred plants in the Vedas.
- Bhang, an edible preparation of cannabis, which is ‘consumed either in the form of a drink or smoked’, is common during the Hindu festivals of Holi and Mahashivaratri.