Indian Hemp Drugs Commission


In 1893, India was under British  rule, and the colonial government became concerned about the amount of  cannabis (i.e., “hemp drugs”) being consumed by the locals. So teams of  British and Indian medical professionals were dispatched throughout the  country to collect information on not just the health effects of  cannabis, but also the social and moral impact.  

The result was a massive research  paper (over 3,000 pages), with recorded 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.”  Nearly all of the data in the seven  volume report bolstered two key conclusions: moderate cannabis  consumption is either relatively harmless or beneficial, and cannabis  prohibition would be supremely unjust.

“To forbid or even seriously to  restrict the use of so gracious an herb as hemp would cause widespread  suffering and annoyance,” the report concluded. For the next 50 years, this research would stand as the most thorough and scientifically rigorous available.