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CBD Laws in India

India’s cannabis culture dates back to 1600 BCE. For Indians, cannabis is a matter of spiritual journey. The world’s most colorful festival, Holi, cannot be imagined without bhaang (paste of cannabis leaves often mixed with milk). 

India’s love and inclination for cannabis use continues to this date, not just spiritually but politically too. In December 2020, India voted yes to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention On Narcotic Drugs (CND). 

We are sure you must be thinking of India as a cannabis paradise. You are right. But there remain legal caveats that make India at par with worldwide confusing and growing cannabis laws impacting CBD’s status. 

In this article, we will understand and unravel the legal layers found in India. We shall also see how various Indian state laws are evolving and paving the way for CBD and the overall cannabis economic revolution.

Cannabis: Short Story of Legal Loophole 

According to the National Drugs & Psychotropic Substances or NDPS Act (1985), cannabis or hemp means:

  1. Charas or hashish oil (separated resin from the cannabis plant)
  2. Ganja or flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant
  3. Or any mixture of the above forms 

Each falls under the illegal umbrella. But a loophole in the 1985 NDPS Act has made all the difference for consumers and manufacturers of CBD. The loophole is- cannabis plants are legal if only seeds and leaves are used.

Now you know why bhaang is celebrated without any restrictions during the annual Indian festival of Holi. This popular ancient Indian festival represents the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. Traditionally, people celebrate the festival using colors which come from flowers and herbs. Turmeric, henna and chandan are predominant herbs that are used to make these colors. In the Indian culture turmeric is recognized not only for its color and use as spice but also for the medical value. Turmeric has natural healing power and is believed to have positive metal effects.

This loophole is a ray of sunshine. Why, though? Despite India’s long history of medicinal and spiritual cannabis, the plant has failed to find its place in the mainstream market in forms such as CBD oils or hemp products. 

If the stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis and eventually CBD changes, looks like the law already does not prohibit CBD production. 

A positive step towards removing stigma is already happening with the latest developments by individual Indian state governments in pursuit of economic reforms. 

A $25 billion Economic Reform Ahead of India

If India legalizes complete cannabis production, the cannabis seeds market alone can produce a whopping $25 billion in the next five years! 

So, what is the Indian government doing for this economic goldmine? 

In 2017, Uttarakhand became the first Indian state to legalize medicinal and industrial cannabis/hemp production with a limit of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC concentrations of 0.3% to regulate cannabis misuse for recreational purposes. 

Uttarakhand is a Northern state of India that has the perfect geographical location for cannabis production. In areas like Almora and Nainital, it forms a cash crop status amongst local farmers. The price may vary anywhere between 40-47 dollars/kg. 

Taking inspiration from Uttrakhand, other Indian states like Himachal Pradesh are also pushing forward to legalize cannabis production. If legalized, the move will manage to generate over $242 crore annual revenue for Himachal Pradesh. 

We can easily conclude that the Indian government is trying. The biggest challenge is not only the stigma associated with it but also the fierce market. India has China and the whole Western world market to compete right now. 

Therefore, India needs an effective and fast plan because the competition is cutthroat. 

So, Can You Buy CBD in India?

By now, you must have understood that CBD is legal if derived from the seeds and leaves of cannabis plants not accompanied by the top. 

Therefore, the good news is, in India, CBD oil is accessible and available. But the majority of CBD products are in-stock online only. For medicinal purposes, you need to show your prescription. Or the online manufacturer might even provide you access to an ayurvedic doctor to get an online prescription. Impressive, isn’t it?

Due to lack of harmonized commodity description and coding system in place, importing CBD products for Indians continue to lie in grey areas as of now. However, certain platforms are offering shipping options nowadays. 

In India, the CBD oil is licensed and manufactured under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The challenge beyond worldwide competition is equally the hesitation to issue these licenses. To be a billion-dollar economy, Indian entrepreneurs are hoping for lenient and cooperative laws.

More and more forms of products are emerging and it looks like India will be leaving behind the Chinese cannabis industry. It is only a matter of when now. 

If you are not from India and live in the USA, make sure to order your health subscription with our range of CBD products today. What’s more? You can customize and save up to 20% on monthly subscription models. 


Bagchi, S. (2020, September 25). “CBD oil is derived from cannabis, but is legal.” Mint. https://www.livemint.com/mint-lounge/features/not-all-cannabis-is-a-problem-11601016871101.html

Bisht, G. (2021, March 22). Himachal to legalise cannabis cultivation to boost economy. Hindustan Times. https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/himachal-to-legalise-cannabis-cultivation-to-boost-economy-101616413074575.html

CBD India | How To Buy CBD Oil In India? (n.d.). Its Hemp. Retrieved July 1, 2021, from https://itshemp.in/blog/how-to-buy-cbd-oil-in-india/#how-to-buy-cbd-in-india-is-cbd-legal

Jadhav, R. (2020, October 21). Cannabis: Why seed industry estimates that India will lose $25 billion business in the next five years. Business Line. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/agri-business/cannabis-why-seed-industry-estimates-that-india-will-lose-25-billion-business-in-the-next-five-years/article32907255.ece

Marathe, O. (2020, December 6). India too votes to reclassify as UN decides cannabis not a dangerous narcotic. The Indian Express. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/un-decides-cannabis-not-a-dangerous-narcotic-india-too-votes-to-reclassify-7089562/

Prasad, P. (2000). Atharv-Veda & Its Materia Medica. In CENTRAL COUNCIL FOR RESEARCH IN AYURVEDIC SCIENCES. http://www.ccras.nic.in/sites/default/files/viewpdf/jimh/BIIHM_2000/83%20to%2092.pdf

The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. (n.d.). Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. https://cdsco.gov.in/opencms/export/sites/CDSCO_WEB/Pdf-documents/acts_rules/2016DrugsandCosmeticsAct1940Rules1945.pdf

THE NARCOTIC DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES, ACT, 1985. (n.d.). Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India. https://legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1985-61.pdf


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