The medical properties of cannabis are not a new-found discovery. Today, countries like Canada and Uruguay have recognised that and decriminalised marijuana, while countries like USA and New Zealand are seriously considering going down the same path. In India, this plant’s unique properties were recognised thousands of years ago in the Atharva veda. But fast forward a few thousand years, and we haven’t made complete use of the plant that we helped discover. A man and his company want to change that, keeping in mind to stay within the boundaries of the law.
Sourab Agarwal is the founding trustee of the Medicinal Cannabis Foundation of India and managing director of HempCann Solutions, an Odisha-based startup that aims to provide research-backed, cannabisinfused medicines. Agarwal spent years researching on cannabis’ possible benefits and soon decided to start HempCann. “I became aware of the worldwide movement around cannabis and realised the benefits of this godherb. I started researching more into the subject and got to know about our more-than-thousand-years history with cannabis. I was not able to stop myself from researching more on the topic, and soon learnt about the plant’s ability to provide more than 25,000 useful products. At that point, it seemed unfair to ignore and keep a magical plant like this away from the public, so I decided to do something about it.”
HempCann Solutions had set up shop online and started selling its cannabisinfused medical products. Trade stayed over the web until they decided to take things to a more grounded level. They opened up their first store — Vedi Wellness Centre — in Bengaluru on February 1. Since then, they have garnered an impressive customer-base with an age range of 30 to 55 years, and with a majority looking for an alternative to treatments like allopathy or homeopathy. Customers have come in search for solutions for various problems ranging from physical health issues like loss of appetite and bowel movements to mental health related issues like anxiety, insomnia, depression and more. The store keeps stocks of various other ayurvedic and herbal products along with its wide range of cannabis-infused offerings, but they can only be purchased after consulting their in-house doctor. But why in Bengaluru? Well, there were actually a lot of factors taken into consideration to make that decision. “We selected Bengaluru to open our first clinic because of the number of online queries we were receiving from the people of Bengaluru. They were enquiring if we have any set-up in the city where they can consult our doctors and also buy the medicines. The people of Bengaluru are open to new ideas and information and also willing to adapt to new treatment methods.”
If you are a bit fuzzy on the law permitting and banning the use of cannabis, here is some clarity. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act is the primary act dealing with cannabis for medical use. It bans the use of flowers and resin of the cannabis plant, which is the part that is crushed to get high, but bhang, hemp plants or the leaves and seeds of the cannabis plant are out of the purview of the NDPS. The Act also allows for the medical use of cannabis, and it gives the state government the power to permit, control and regulate the cultivation of any cannabis plant as well as the production, manufacture, possession, transport, sale, purchase and consumption of it (excluding charas). Since HempCann manufactures all of their cannabis medicines using only the leaves of the plant, everything is openly operated under the legal boundaries. HemCann eventually has the goal of setting up several outlets across India. Their aim for the clinic is to provide education and awareness about the use of cannabis medicines and also provide quality patient care in a calm and peaceful clinical setting. Looking at their current response and popularity, they don’t seem far away from achieving their goals.