An endless array of myths, mixed with some facts, surround pot in India. From smoking to buying and transporting, rather than try to cover the myriad of topics this subject involves, I’ll get down to brass tacks for those of you interested in this subject.
1. The sale, consumption, and transporting of Marijuana is illegal. Fines and jail terms seem to vary based on outdated sources. The most commonly referenced fine for possession is Rs 10,000 with a maximum jail sentence of 6 months for small quantities (100 grams). Large quantities (1 kg) Rs 100,000 with a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
2. Sourcing and purchasing pot is extremely easy. A local in Northern India, when asked how to find a source, told me to “look for any Israeli”. He wasn’t wrong, but you can also find it from local shop owners, taxi drivers, tuk tuk drivers and agency tourist vehicle drivers. Even if they don’t carry or sell any product, they know the fastest connection. Be prepared to provide a little baksheesh for their efforts. Sadhus are also excellent sources for small amounts. In the more touristy locations such as Mcleodganj, Manali, Varanasi, Goa, Rishikesh, etc. you’ll find many foreign tourists looking to earn some money to expense their long-haul stays in India. Use discretion, word travels fast among drivers and cops love to pick on them.
3. Cops are on the lookout and do set up sting operations throughout the country. Stories of bribes are rampant on the internet so proceed with caution if you find yourself in police custody. Local business owners have found it more lucrative to sell marijuana than focus on their main businesses of hotel and/or restaurant ownership. Authorities look the other way thanks to large bribes paid by the businessmen, but also in exchange for said men supplying names and faces of their own customers.
4. Don’t be a dope by smoking in public. Use common sense when lighting up in hotels and small, confined places. There are so many places to seek solace in India regardless of how large a city you find yourself.
5. Indians, for the most part, are not used to smoking pot in organic forms that Westerners do. You’ll commonly find your Indian counterparts mixing cigarette tobacco with equal parts marijuana. Once mixed, the ingredients are funneled back into the wrapper and smoked like a regular cigarette.
6. During Holi and some other special times throughout the year, a beverage called bhang lassi is drunk in honor of the festivities. When consumed around Holi, there appears to be a free pass for locals and foreigners in the eyes of the law. Expect to see Indians affected much more than Westerners by this sweet concoction. After several glasses, in honor of Holi 2008 of course, I felt no effects whereas my Indian friends were rolling around in laughter. As with any food items in India, ensure how your bhang lassi is prepared.
7. Transporting of pot is just plain dumb. Trains are regularly searched by very efficient police officers. If traveling by car, fake roadblocks are common on well traveled tourist routes in hopes of collecting large bribes. The attending officer may search the vehicle and it’s passengers all for the sake of imposing fear in order to collect his money. Obviously do not carry any drugs to the airport.
8. Purchase only what you need within the time allotted for your current location. Avoid carrying large amounts at one time with you. Do not stash product in your hotel, find a nondescript spot outside of your room. Clean up after yourself regardless of where you smoke. You’d be amazed how fast word travels in India. If you draw attention to yourself and your habits, you’ll be on center stage in short order.
For the sake of keeping a clean reputation, I do not sell, grow, carry, or source pot/marijuana/cannabis in the USA or India. Don’t kill the messenger folks.