Select Location
General Legal

Is Weed or Marijuana Legal in India?

Cannabis has been defined as the flowering or fruiting top of the cannabis plant out of which the resin has not been extracted. Read about the legality of weed or marijuana usage in India.

Weed, marijuana, bhang, charas, ganja and so on, cannabis in India has been given numerous names and forms over thousands of years. Cannabis has been a part of India, specifically in the Hindu religion, used in the form of charas (resin), bhang (seeds), and ganja (flower of cannabis).  

The most commonly used form of cannabis in India is in the form of bhang used to make 'Thandai', a milkshake laced with cannabis seeds and leaves, consumed on Hindu festivals of Holi and Shivratri, the Sikh festival of Hola Mohalla, and other festive forms. However, Is weed legal in India? is the primary question that still comes up whenever someone mentions weed, marijuana or bhang.

What does the law say about Weed or Marijuana?

The central law that deals with cannabis (weed or marijuana) in India is the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985(1). However, different states have their own laws relating to consumption, possession, sale or purchase of weed or marijuana.

For instance, Odisha is a state in which weed is legal in India and people commonly use 'chillums' to smoke weed within the state’s territory. Uttarakhand is another state where cultivating cannabis is legal for industrial purposes. People who wish to cultivate cannabis in such states must consult top criminal lawyers in India to get relevant permissions and licenses.

Cannabis has been defined as the flowering or fruiting top of the cannabis plant out of which the resin has not been extracted. This excludes the seeds and leaves when they do not form the part of the top. By this definition, 'bhang' does not constitute a part of the cannabis plant and hence 'bhang' is openly consumed in India on numerous religious occasions. 

The NDPS Act defines ‘cannabis’ as:

a) Charas, crude or purified, is a separated resin obtained from the cannabis plant and includes concentrated preparation or resin called liquid or hashish oil.
b) Ganja, the flowering or fruiting top, that excludes seeds and leaves which do not form part of the top.
c) Any mixture or drink made out of charas or ganja.

The definition of cannabis under the NDPS Act excludes bhang as a part of the plant as well. 

The NDPS Act prohibits the sale and production of cannabis resin and flowers, but the use of leaves and seeds of the cannabis plant is permitted, with the states having the power to regulate and form the state rules for it. Any person caught in possession of any of these parts of the cannabis plant may be arrested. In such a case, the person may consult Criminal Lawyers in Delhi.

The Assam Ganja and Bhang Prohibition Act, 1958(2) bans the sale, possession, purchase and consumption of ganja and bhang. The Bombay Prohibition (BP) Act, 1949(3) prohibits the manufacture, possession and consumption of bhang and bhang-containing substances without a license in Maharashtra. A person caught in the act can talk to Criminal Lawyers in Mumbai to deal with the case.

What happens if you get caught with weed or marijuana in India?

Even possessing prohibited drugs (weed or marijuana) in India is an offence under the NDPS Act. The purpose of possession of drugs is not relevant and the punishment depends upon the quantity of drugs in possession. If a person is caught with drugs or found to be a drug addict, he/she would not be subject to prosecution if he/she voluntarily chooses to undergo de-addiction treatment. 

The various laws that deal with possession and consumption of drugs in India by juveniles, or children below the age of 18 years are as following:

1) The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
2) The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000
3) State drug laws

What is the punishment for carrying drugs (Weed or Marijuana) in India?

In case you are arrested with any of the following quantities of marijuana, you can hire criminal lawyers in Bangalore to deal with your case: 

  • For holding a small quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 6 months, fine of Rs. 10,000 or both.

  • For holding more than a small quantity but less than the commercial quantity, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10 years, fine of Rs. 1 lakh, or both.

  • For holding commercial quantity, but slightly less than commercial quality, the prescribed punishment is rigorous imprisonment for up to 10-20 years, fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh, or both.

The small and commercial quantity of various drugs in India are as follows:

1. Heroin: 5 grams- 250 grams
2. Cocaine:  2 grams- 100 grams
3. Hashish or Charas: 100 grams- 1 kg
4. Opium: 25 grams- 2.5 kgs
5. Ganja: 1kg- 20 kgs

If you come across any person who is selling weed or marijuana or other drugs in India, you can contact the police authorities of your nearest police station. There are special narcotics cells in many police stations in India. A complaint can also be filed with the Officer of State customs or excise with the help of Best Criminal Lawyer in Gurgaon

Need to talk to a criminal defence lawyer in India? Consult the Best Criminal Lawyers in India at MyAdvo

Email us at or call us at +919811782573.


External Links:

[1] Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985: A detailed view of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985

[2] The Assam Ganja and Bhang Prohibition Act: A brief into The Assam Ganja and Bhang Prohibition Act, 1958

[3] The Bombay Prohibition (BP) Act, 1949: A sitemap into The Bombay Prohibition (BP) Act, 1949

Reviewed by:
Prachi Darji
Associate - Legal, MyAdvo Techserve Pvt. Ltd.
Published on 9th Aug, 2019

Prachi Darji is an expert corporate lawyer, currently associated with MyAdvo as an in-house legal advisor. She has finished B.Sc, LLB(Hons.) from Gujarat National Law University. She has an expertise in various domains of law including Intellectual Property Law, Company law, etc. At MyAdvo, she is taking care of litigation strategies and internal legal processes.



General Legal Subcategories

Book A Service

RTI Application Filing

3 reviews

CSR Advisory

3 reviews