Ratan Tata,Google India MD Back India’s 1st Medical Marijuana Research
For generations now, we have had wisdom to heal the body. However, it is bewildering that we have restrained ourselves in the field of discovery in what the marijuana plant can do as far as medicine is concerned.
The same plant that has played such a vibrant role in India’s own history. Cannabis use has been well documented in India for thousands of years and had great cultural significance until a crackdown of widespread use under the British Empire.
Recreational cannabis was available and sold legally in India until 1985. It was then the country finally succumbed to pressure from the United States and created the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. The legislation effectively banned the possession and consumption of all narcotic substances, including marijuana.
If the Vedas are to be believed, we signed on for the boons of cannabis early on. It is one of the “five sacred plants and a guardian angel lived in its leaves. It was considered “a source of happiness, a joy-giver, liberator that was compassionately given to humans to help us attain delight and lose fear” earlier.
But now in India, all uses of marijuana remain illegal, but certain progress is being made in terms of research. Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Group, and Rajan Anandan, managing director of Google India, have provided funds to Bombay Hemp Company (Boheco).
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) website, “several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting in the advanced stages of illnesses such as cancer and AIDS. Dronabinol (tetrahydrocannabinol) has been available by prescription for more than a decade in the USA. Other therapeutic uses of cannabinoids are being demonstrated by controlled studies, including treatment of asthma and glaucoma, as an antidepressant, appetite stimulant, anticonvulsant and anti-spasmodic, research in this area should continue.”
Boheco is India’s first startup planning to research the medicinal uses of cannabis. The company is partnering with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for this purpose.
“We intend to study and develop medical properties of cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy and chemotherapy induced side-effects,” the Director of R&D at BOHECO, Avnish Pandya, had said in August.
The company which is based out of Mumbai has raised Rs 6.25 crore from Tata and Anandan in first round of seed funding. In tandem with CSIR, it will grow cannabis in Jammu & Kashmir. The companies plan to study and later find out in what way the hemp will be useful for treatment of epilepsy, breast cancer and palliative care.
“The funds would aid in the education of hemp and cannabis. People have been seeing it in a wrong light all this while and we aim to maximise the education around the crop using our products as the main tool,” Yash Kotak, co-founder and director of BOHECO, said.
The company further says it will use the proceeds from the recent seed funding for hiring scientists from India as well as foreign nations. For that purpose, The Netherlands has already been in its crosshairs.
BOHECO’s design fuses hemp’s potential with agriculture, technology and medicine. The company assists local farmers in cultivating the crop by providing optimum seeds, best practices in cultivation techniques, and innovating agro-products.
The firm intends to be the pioneer in developing a sustainable business model by constantly innovating and offering quality products and services to create large-scale economic, environmental and social impact, explained Kotak.