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  • Bhang is also known as 'charas' 'ganja' or its botanical name 'cannabis sativa.' Bhang is consumed orally, whereas charas and ganja are smoked.

    Bhang has been used, they say, for the last 5000 years. During certain Hindu festivals like Holi and Mahashivratri it is sometimes distributed as a religious offering.

    It is frequently used by sufis and sadhus to achieve a transcendental state. I believe it has also been used in ayurvedic medicines. It has been traditionally used to cure fever, dysentery, sunstroke and even speech impediments.

    To make the bhang you have to grind the buds and leaves of the cannabis plant in a pestle. To this green paste you add milk, ghee (clarified butter) and spices. You use this to make thandai, a sweet drink, or lassi, a yogurt drink.

    I've never smoked pot but when I was about 22 or so I was offered something sweet by a friend. This sweet contained bhang and i didn't know it. After some time I started feeling giddy and lay on the bed. I held on tight to the bed because I thought I would fall off.

    Some people experience different things. There are those who will laugh all day long after consuming bhang. There was a friend of a friend who spent all day riding an imaginary horse.

    Until 1985 ganja, charas and bhang were freely sold in our country. Now bhang is available only from government authorised shops. From the 60s the United States had been campaigning for a law against all drugs, both hard and soft. In 1985 the government introduced a law that banned marijuana, hashish and bhang, along with hard drugs like smack, cocaine and crack. Those who were earlier smoking grass were now chasing smack. And lo and behold, there was a drug problem in India. Teenagers and grown men and women would sell their belongings or steal in order to procure money to get a fix.

    Marijuana has medical benefits. It can help cancer patients overcome nausea, can relieve chronic pain, arthritis, aids, glaucoma, fibromyalgia. The sick and ailing can't avail of it because it is a banned substance. But they are forced by doctors, who are coerced by the pharmaceutical companies, to consume prescription drugs that could kill them. Every year prescription drugs kill about 100,00 people in the world. Pharmaceutical companies want to stop the growth and production of cannabis. They don't want you to grow your own medicine.

    It's time the government reviewed the ban on cannabis. Thr NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act should be amended. Soft drugs like charas, ganja and bhang should be allowed to be sold legally everywhere in the country.
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