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Bombay Hemp Company To Develop Cannabis Based Medicine

This means that all approved medical and research institutions would have access to medical grade raw material in the form of extracts, oils and tinctures for R&D purposes

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A week after Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi suggested that medical use of cannabis should be legalized in India, government has issued the first-ever license to grow and study the medicinal properties of cannabis, to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) which will collaborate with Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO) for the same.

In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Avnish Pandya, Director of Research at BOHECO, and Jahan Peston Jamas, Director of Strategy and Collaborations at BOHECO discuss this landmark beginning of a new era in the medical landscape of India. Edited excerpts:

How did BOHECO acquire the license for researching on the medical properties of cannabis?

The license, as of now, has been issued to CSIR institute. BOHECO is a collaborator in this case. The idea of medicinal cannabis had been in the pipeline for a while; in November 2016 BOHECO and CSIR cohesively came together to co-organise ICARE (India Cannabis Analysis Research Education).

The Chief Guest was Dr GN Singh, Drugs Controller General India, who spoke positively about legalizing medical cannabis in India and went on to say, “We will adopt a linear approach rather than a restrictive one. As regulators and technocrats, we are with you as long as you can scientifically prove that it is in the interest of the people of this country.”

This was one of the discussions held between BOHECO, CSIR institutes, representative from AIIMS, Tata Memorial Centre and other international partners to create the right discourse around the cannabis dilemma. Along with I CARE there was already a lot of anecdotal evidence with cannabis globally for the regulators to go ahead with India’s first medical cannabis research license within its scientific setup.

How will this license help transform the medical landscape of India?

The license is a huge step forward for medicinal cannabis in India. This means that all approved medical and research institutions would have access to medical grade raw material in the form of extracts, oils and tinctures for R&D purposes. This further leads to multiple forms of product development for a wide range of symptoms and diseases.

The biggest road block so far was for scientists to have access to legal and medical grade cannabis, now that problem is being solved, we can provide people with high quality research grade product. Though creating medicine out of these materials is a different ball game, it needs serious support from different parts of the eco system, as I mentioned the first step is legal access for scientific and research purposes.

How will medical cannabis industry be regulated to ensure that recreational use of the same does not increase?

As of now it’s all in the R&D phase. We are a considerable while away from having cannabis medicine approved for marketing. It will be highly regulated, on prescription and tested for safety and efficacy. All the product development will happen under the CDCSO regulatory framework maintaining the standards prescribed by our regulatory authorities. As per our regulatory assessment we are certain that India is going to build a highly scientific and credible medical cannabis program.