Exploring Bhang: Legal Status and Cultural Heritage in India

Exploring Bhang: Legal Status and Cultural Heritage in India

Discover the story of bhang in India - from ancient traditions to modern legality. Join us on a journey through time and culture, exploring the deep-rooted significance of this beloved plant.

Is Bhang Legal in India?

Bhang, derived from the cannabis plant, has been a part of Indian culture for millennia, tracing its usage back to as early as 1000 BC. Traditionally associated with festivals like Holi and Maha Shivratri, bhang holds a significant place in Indian history and tradition.

Bhang Culture:

The reverence for bhang in Indian culture is deeply rooted, particularly in its association with Lord Shiva. It is said that Lord Shiva consumed bhang, elevating its status as a sacred substance. Consequently, bhang became a staple during Maha Shivratri celebrations, where devotees partake in its consumption as a means of connecting with the divine. Similarly, during the festival of colors, Holi, bhang-infused drinks are commonly enjoyed, adding an element of merriment to the festivities.

Beyond its role in religious and cultural contexts, bhang has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. In various parts of India, it is utilized to treat ailments such as fever, sunstroke, dysentery, and more. Bhang is also a component in the preparation of several Ayurvedic medicines, highlighting its therapeutic value in traditional Indian medicine systems.


The legal status of bhang in India is a nuanced issue, influenced by its historical significance and medicinal uses. In 1961, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs marked an international effort to control the production and distribution of narcotics, including cannabis. Under this treaty, India faced pressure to comply with regulations aimed at restricting the use of cannabis and related substances.

However, the definition of "cannabis" outlined in the treaty does not encompass the leaves of the cannabis plant, thus excluding bhang from the scope of prohibition. Consequently, bhang remained legal in India despite international pressures to enforce stricter regulations.

In 1985, India introduced the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, which aimed to regulate and control the production, manufacture, possession, sale, purchase, transport, warehousing, use, consumption, import inter-State, export inter-State, import into India, export from India, import into India and export from India of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. While the NDPS Act classified certain forms of cannabis, such as charas (resin) and ganja (flower), as illegal substances, bhang, being prepared from the seeds and leaves of the cannabis plant, was exempted from the ban.


Bhang stands as a testament to India's rich cultural heritage and its integration of traditional practices into contemporary life. Despite shifts in international drug policies and domestic legislation, bhang continues to hold a revered place in Indian society, cherished for its religious, cultural, and medicinal significance.

As India navigates evolving attitudes towards cannabis and its derivatives, the legacy of bhang remains an enduring symbol of resilience, tradition, and the complex interplay between legality and cultural heritage.

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