The Indian Hemp Commission

In 1893, the British government established the Indian Hemp Commission, to investigate the use of cannabis in India. It was set up in response to concerns about the safety and potential for abuse of the mysterious herb. The report the Commission finally produced was no less than 3,281 pages long, and inluded testimony from almost 1,200 "doctors, coolies, yogis, fakirs, heads of lunatic asylums, bhang peasants, tax gatherers, smugglers, army officers, hemp dealers, ganja palace operators and the clergy."

The seven-volume report remains the most comprehensive and systematic study of cannabis use ever undertaken. It drew some enlightened and enlightening conclusions:

"On the whole, if moderation and excess in the use of drugs are distinguished, which is a thing the witnesses examined have... found it very hard to do, the weight of evidence is that the moderate use of hemp drugs is not injurious...

"The question of the mental effects produced by hemp drugs has been examined by the Commission with great care. The popular impression that hemp drugs are a fruitful source of insanity is very strong, but nothing can be more remarkable than the complete breakdown of the evidence on which it is based. Popular prejudice has over and over again caused cases of insanity to be ascribed to ganja which have no connection whatever with it; and then statistics based on this premise are quoted as confirming or establishing the prejudice itself...

"Absolute prohibition is, in the opinion of the Commission, entirely out of the question...

"There is no evidence of any weight regarding mental and moral injuries from the moderate use of these drugs...

"Large numbers of practitioners of long experience have seen no evidence of any connection between the moderate use of hemp drugs and disease...

"Moderation does not lead to excess in hemp any more than it does in alcohol. Regular, moderate use of ganja or bhang produces the same effects as moderate and regular doses of whiskey. Excess is confined to the idle...

So there.



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