“Holi kab hai…kab hai holi, kab!” It isn’t only Gabbar who looks forward to Holi. Everyone eagerly awaits Holi and the chance to spend the day (and mostly the day after!) in an intoxicated haze by consuming bhang and playing with colours. Rang and bhang are the two words that resonate throughout the day and night during Holi. Bhang is consumed in different forms such as goli and thandai form. Bhang mixed in Lassi, famously called special lassi, is an attraction that adds to the Holi fervour.
While bhang is so commonplace in certain Indian festivals and has been so for eons in India the question of its legality still seems to cause certain amounts of confusion despite it’s open acceptance.
Bhang is prepared by grounding the buds and leaves of the cannabis plant into a paste and mixing it with other foods like milk, lassi etc. Charas and Ganja are made from the cannabis plant as well, but they are derived from the resin and flowering parts.
The consumption and production of Ganja and Charas are strictly prohibited by the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, but the act doesn’t mention Bhang at all. The act outlaws consuming the resin and flowering part of the cannabis plant specifically but not the leaves. That is why ‘Ganja’ and ‘Charas,’derived from the resin and flowering parts are illegal but Bhang, which is made from the leaves of the same plant is not.
Is it legal to drink bhang? — Yes.
Indian law does not prohibit drinking bhang and there have been no recorded cases of people being arrested or fined for consuming bhang.
Is it legal to grow cannabis for the purposes of making bhang? — Nope
Since you can’t grow just the leaves of the plant, by cultivating cannabis, you would also be cultivating the illegal parts of it.
Can I sell Bhang? — Only if you have a license
Bhang can be sold only through the licensed shops regulated by the government.
Can I be arrested for drinking Bhang on Holi? — Nope
While drinking Bhang is legal and you cannot be arrested for consuming it, you will not be excused for any other crimes you commit under the influence of bhang. If the police find you under the influence of bhang, committing any crimes, you can be punished for those crimes. Bura na mano holi hai, therefore comes with a lot of caution!
Have a fun and safe holi. Drink bhang, play with colours and be respectful of others.
We would like to thank the kind and patient police authorities at Defence Colony and Kotla Mubarakpur police station for answering our queries on practical aspects of the law.