India was one of England's most lucrative colonial ventures and they also worked with hemp.
The English made fortunes several times over from their investments in India. Exploitation of natural resources was assumed whenever European countries established territorial rights, and Parliament usually gave its blessing to any such enterprises in expectation of sharing in windfall profits.
Sometimes, however, despite the most stringent economic, social, and political regulations imposed on the native peoples of another country, business ventures failed. Such was the case with the British East India Company. The problem was not that the company did not make money—its profits were enormous. But many of the company's top executives were not adverse to pocketing a little extra money at the company's expense.
Parliament began to examine various options to get its money back and then some. Among the suggestions subsequently adopted was a tax directed at India's intoxicating hemp drugs, namely bhang, ganja, and charas.
Among those who believed that hemp drugs were ruining the country was the governor general. Drugs such as charas and ganja, along with opium and alcohol, "are of so noxious a quality, and produce a species of intoxication so extremely violent," he warned, "that they cannot be used without imminent danger to the individual as well as to the public." The sale of all such drugs, he urged, ought to be totally prohibited in India.
Back in England, thousands of miles away, Parliament's main interest in India was how to extract more money from the country.
The people could intoxicate themselves as much as they liked. As long as England profited from their intoxication and the country remained peaceful.
England, in fact, was one of the world's main drug suppliers and cannabis was but a minor revenue generating resource. The big money was brought in by opium, and India grew more opium than any other country. Thousands and thousands of pounds of opium were offered annually at public auctions to English merchants who bought the drug and resold it to the Chinese at an enormous profit. When the Chinese government tried to stop the flow of opium into the country, England sent gunboats into Chinese waters to protect British interests.
In the meantime, Parliament began hearing reports that native Indian soldiers serving in the British army, were using ganja and, as a result, the efficiency of Her Majesty's armed forces was being undermined.
Criticism started mounting from other directions as well. Bhang, it was said, was causing indigestion, coughing, melancholy, impotency, insanity, idiocy, and most alarming of all, crime.
For one thing, bhang was rather weak. It was a beverage consumed as a cup of tea. A sizable quantity of bhang would have to be consumed before any serious effects would be experienced.
Charas was a different story altogether. It was the most potent of the three cannabis drugs, and one might expect that if any of these three would be accused of inducing abnormality, it would have been charas. But charas was also the most expensive of the three. It could only be afforded by the wealthy. Hence, the number of those using it to excess was comparatively few.
Ganja, on the other hand, was potent, not very expensive, and popular. Those who enjoyed it usually came from the lower classes.
When the outcry against cannabis could no longer be brushed aside, India's local administrators were instructed to look into the charges that cannabis was inciting the natives to criminal acts and insanity.
It has frequently been alleged that the abuse of ganja produces insanity and other dangerous effects.
This article contains documentation from “Marihuana The First Twelve Thousand Years”, by Ernest L. Abel