How India can become a global cannabis leader: Q&A with Bombay Hemp’s Avnish Pandya

India’s medical marijuana industry will blossom if companies use science to convince regulators that MMJ is an effective medicine.

That’s the view of the country’s only licensed medical cannabis cultivator.

Avnish Pandya, co-founder of Bombay Hemp Company, said the best way to develop India’s medical marijuana industry is for companies to work with regulators to develop and prove the efficacy of MMJ as a medicine within the current medical system.

“If we’re able to scientifically prove results, and provide them with enough statistical data, the (government) will be more willing to fast-track the whole system,” he said.

“The government is also looking at this from a global point of view. If India gets this (clinical testing of MMJ) right, then it means India could have access to a lot of other countries, knowing that cannabis-based medicine is something that has been used in India for a long time already.”

It is legal to grow medical cannabis for scientific purposes in India, with licenses handed out by state governments. But there is no way for patients to access it.

Still, the potential in India is enormous, even if MMJ is used for limited medical applications,.

Bombay Hemp Company already has the backing of some high-profile investors, including Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, and Google India Managing Director Rajan Anandan.

Marijuana Business Daily spoke with Pandya about the potential of the medical cannabis market in India and overseas.

How is cannabis classified in India?

Cannabis is defined in totally different ways in India:

Hemp, which is less than 0.3% THC.
Bhang, which is the leaves of the cannabis plant. That is already being used in medicine and, in some cases, as a recreational drink. The government has authorized bhang shops to do this.
The medical cannabis version that we know of globally – the buds, flower, the stems, the bracks. This is what was under contention.

What does your MMJ cultivation license allow?

Currently the license allows us to grow plants within one acre of land, whether its indoor or outdoor. We’re doing both.

Cultivation is regulated by the state. We have a license from the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Currently we are cultivating 20-odd strains we have collected around India.

What’s the advantage in leading with science?

Rather than fighting the system, we’re working within it. We cannot expect the government to drop their system completely and say, “Start growing…

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