Science

What is charas? Meaning explained

Indian authorities continued to investigate an alleged Bollywood drug ring after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

This has since drawn attention to the country’s drug laws, including the use of the popular cannabis extract charas. Here are all the key details.

Charas is made from cannabis extract.Credit: Getty

What is charas?

Charas is one of the oldest forms of cannabis concentrate and is believed to originate primarily from parts of Asia such as India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

The drug is usually made by hand from dry, dry plant material and is usually sold in balls or sticks.

Charas continues to be a source of income for many farmers in the region and still plays a vital role in spiritual and religious practices.

For example, the Shaivs, a Hindu sect that worships Lord Shiva, often depict their Lord smoking and therefore incorporate the practice of smoking charas into their rituals.

Others, including the Naga Sadhus, Ahjorhis, and Tantrique Bhairava sects, also smoke it freely as part of their religious practice.

Is charas illegal?

Charas was outlawed in India under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985.

The law prohibits and criminalizes the sale, possession, transport and cultivation of cannabis in certain forms in India.

Other illicit cannabis under Indian law includes:

Ganja, “the flowering or fruiting tips of the cannabis plant (excluding seeds and leaves when unaccompanied by tips)”;

And “any mixture, with or without neutral material, of any of the above forms of cannabis or of any beverage prepared from it.”

It should be noted, however, that the use of seeds and leaves produced from cannabis is permitted, but remains highly regulated.

The drug is illegal in India along with other forms of cannabis.Credit: Getty

What are the side effects of charas?

According to Rehabilitation India, the effects of charas can be powerful and dangerous, as the active ingredient is found in a higher concentration than in regular marijuana or hashish.

Side effects include

  • Nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Mental illness or depression
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, confusion, and feeling out of control.
  • Long-term breathing problems.
  • Altered consciousness (such as hallucinations)
  • Weakened immune system –
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular problems.

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