With two US states - Washington and Colorado - voting to legalise the recreational use of marijuana, a similar liberal approach towards mild intoxicants in India is up for debate. Consumption of marijuana and other cannabis derivatives such as bhang dates back hundreds of years with strong roots in Indian culture. Untill 1985, marijuana and other cannabis derivatives were legally sold in the country through authorised retail shops. The enactment of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in that year - carried out under pressure from the US - pushed the marijuana trade underground.
What two American states, Washington and Colorado, have decided to do - legalize recreational use of marijuana - was the norm in India until 1985. All cannabis derivatives - marijuana (grass or ganja), hashish (charas) and bhang - were legally sold in this country. As a matter of fact, most state governments had their own retail shops to sell these drugs. India has known, consumed and celebrated ganja, charas and bhang for millennia. (See also: Recreational use of marijuana: Of highs and laws)