Mumbai: Extensive research on medical marijuana to be undertaken

Mumbai: Ever since the talk surrounding medical marijuana, or cannabis picked up some pace, when Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi suggested last week that it be legalised, India has taken its first step forward in the matter regarding conducting study and research on medical marijuana.

The central government has given the green light and issued the first-ever licence to grow and study the medicinal properties of cannabis, and it’s a Mumbai-based firm – the Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO) – that will pioneer the research along with the Council of Scientific and Medical Research (CSIR). The study will take place in Jammu & Kashmir, where researchers will grow 20 different accessions of medical cannabis that have been collected from different parts of the country for this extensive research.

“We have collected more than 100 accessions for chemical profiling and have identified 20 of these based on physiological features, which are the ones we want to cultivate,” said Avnish Pandya, co-founder of BOHECO, reported Mid-Day. The collaborative project has been in the pipeline for the past six months, although the collection of accessions has been going on for two years.

Dr Ram Vishwakarma, director of CSIR-IIM, Jammu, said, “This is the first legal licence 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 licence from J&K.” Pandya said that the aim was to “develop medicine from cannabis.” He further added, “It won’t be raw cannabis; it will be an actual product in the form of extracts, pills, and patches.”

“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,” he said, adding, “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.”

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