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Bhang, obtained from the Cannabis sativa plant or true hemp, is popularly consumed on the occasion of Holi across India.

About Cannabis

  • It is found mainly in the Indo-Gangetic plains – in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal – along with the Deccan region.
  • Cannabis is termed Ganzai in Telugu, Ganja in Tamil, and Bangi in Kannada.
  • Three products can be obtained from the plant – fibre, oil, and narcotics.
  • Bhang is obtained from the seeds and leaves of the plant, which are reduced to powder. Then, the powder is filtered and prepared for drinking, mixed often with cold, flavoured milk or thandai on Holi.
  • Other uses of Cannabis
    • Hemp-seed oil is used in varnish industries as a substitute for linseed oil, and in the manufacturing of soft soap. It has many medicinal uses, too.
    • As per ICAR, the ash of cannabis is applied on animals’ skin in cases of haematoma, a condition in which blood clots outside of the blood vessels. 
    • It is cultivated in the Chhota/Bada Bhangal of Kangra and the Karsog area of Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh.
    • While cultivation for extraction of addictive narcotics is illegal, states allow controlled and regulated cultivation of cannabis for obtaining its fibre and seed for industrial or horticultural purposes.
    • Treating paddy seed with bhang is effective in paddy seed germination and this treatment is common in temperate areas of Jammu and Kashmir, where temperature during nursery raising is low.
    • The cannabis plants are used for controlling threadworms in paddy nurseries by the farmers of the Solki area of Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir.
    • Cannabis leaves are heated and crushed to make a paste for treating honey bee or wasp sting.

Q1) What are Psychoactive drugs?

These are substances that, when taken in or administered into one's system, affect mental processes, e.g. perception, consciousness, cognition or mood and emotions. Psychoactive drugs belong to a broader category of psychoactive substances that include also alcohol and nicotine. 

Source: Beyond Holi and bhang, the many uses of cannabis – from medicine to rope-making