In next one-year, India will have its own indigenously developed and manufactured Cannabis-based medicinal drugs as three major science R&D bodies in India — The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Indian Council for Medical Research and the Department of Biotechnolgy — are getting together to promote research in herbal drugs, some of which involve deriving new drugs from marijuana.
CSIR’s Indian institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM), Jammu has recently been granted license for cultivation of “Cannabis” for medical research and drug development, to conduct study to explore its potential clinical benefits. To conduct research on “Medical Marijuana” drugs, IIIM has tied up with Tata Memorial Hospital, whereas tests for the epilepsy drug will be conducted in New Delhi’s AIIMS.
Manufactured locally in India and available in next one year, the new hemp-based medicines will be for cancer pain management and epilepsy treatment and CSIR is said to be in advanced stage of clinical trials to launch two new drugs based on Marijuana.
Ratan Tata-backed cannabis research startup, Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO), is CSIR’s funding partner for the two research projects and is expected to market the drugs in India. BOHECO, which studies the medical uses of cannabis, had raised raised $1 million from a group of investors led by Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons and Rajan Anandan, Google India’s managing director, Sanvar Oberoi
The two new breakthrough drugs are based on cannabidiol (CBD) — one of the two primary compounds occurring naturally in the cannabis sativa plant. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not deliver a high to the user. The other compound is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Such drugs are being used in the US and Europe but their distribution in India will bring down the cost of the formulations currently needing specific clearances.
The related organisations were in the process of formally applying to the Drug Control General of India for permissions.
A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that CBD benefits include acting as an anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-oxidant, an antipsychotic agent, and is, therefore, an effective treatment for such disorders as inflammation, oxidative injury, epilepsy, nausea and vomiting.
In the recent past, we have seen how Marijuana has made its way into the medical mainstream in Western countries however in India, there is different thing altogether as patients in India are denied cannabis-based medicines due to strict regulations.
The studies into the therapeutic potential of marijuana is part of a larger governmental thrust to making new drugs derived from herbs and plants that find mention in Ayurvedic and other traditional-medicine knowledge systems.