India: The cannabis dilemma

In many countries, there is an ongoing debate on legalising cannabis (marijuana). This means the drug, not the plant. Such bans or controls are typically creatures of the 20th-century. You may have come across reports about an Indian commission having contributed to initial arguments for a ban. This is the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1893/94. Originally, the commission was set up to examine the use and abuse of cannabis in Bengal and the geographical mandate was later extended to entire India.

I think blaming that commission is tantamount to calumny. If anything, the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission argued against any bans. For that day and age, it is remarkable that the commission distinguished between private costs and social costs and highlighted externalities. “Viewing the subject generally, it may be added that the moderate use of these drugs is the rule, and that the excessive use is comparatively exceptional....

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