It seems that India has made it’s first move towards the study of medical cannabis, in the light of the most recent discussion where Maneka Gandhi called for the legalisation of medical marijuana, not knowing that it is in fact already legal. Now, the first-ever licence to grow and study the medicinal properties of cannabis has been granted to the Council of Scientific and Medical Research (CSIR) who will carry out the research with the Mumbai based firm, The Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO).
The study will primarily take place in Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand where researchers will grow 20 different accessions of medical cannabis collected from different parts of the country and will study its medicinal properties in the treatment of epilepsy and cancer “All drugs obtained from this plant have an important medical ingredient called cannabidiol, but the plant itself has been banned because of another component, called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The research that has been coming out of the USA and Europe in the last decade confirms that most of the pharmaceutical activity comes from CBD, while the habit-forming and psychoactive activity comes from THC. Once this clarity has come, regulators have now started allowing this to be used for conditions like epilepsy in children. Also, for terminal cancer patients, instead of using morphine, we can use CBD”; reported Mid-day quoting Dr Ram Vishwakarma, director of CSIR-IIM, Jammu. The main aim of the research will be to develop medicine from cannabis in the form of extracts, pills, and patches.
The idea was developed when BOHECO and CSIR cohesively came together to co-organise ICARE (India Cannabis Analysis Research Education) which was held in November 2016. The Chief Guest was Dr. G.N Singh, Drugs Controller General India who spoke positively about legalizing medical cannabis in India and went on to say, “We will adopt a lenient approach rather than a restrictive one. As regulators and technocrats, we are with you as long as you can scientifically prove that it is in the interest of the people of this country.”
Dr Ram Vishwakarma told Mid-day that, “This is the first legal license given to any medical research institute in India for research and development on cannabis. I started the process two years ago, and it was only a few months back that we finally succeeded in obtaining a license from J&K.”
“The research will take place in various phases,” says Avnish Pandya, co-founder of BOHECO. The first phase will involve the cultivation and chemical profiling, the second will be undertaking extraction followed by the formulation which will be the third phase. The fourth and the fifth phase entail pre-clinical trials and clinical trial respectively.
Molecular Biologist and Cannabis Chemistry Expert Siddhant Mistry, Plant Breeding and Genetics expert, Dr.Brij Kishore, Principle Scientist Arno Hazekamp and Co-founder Avnish Pandya will be part of this research from BOHECO.
Right now, the government is looking at it purely from a medical perspective and not mixing it with the recreational side of the plant. Avnish Pandya states “It is a massive step on part of part of the India. Through this project, a lot of medical institutions will get access to R&D in the future. Though bringing it as medicines will take time, but it certainly is the first step in the right direction.”
If you liked reading this, we suggest you read:Why It’s Not Possible To ‘Legalise’ Medical Marijuana In India