Apart from spirits, excise duties are levied upon the sale of a number of intoxicating or stimulant drugs, of which the most important are opium, bhang, ganja and charas.
Bhang, ganja and charas are three different narcotic drugs prepared from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa, var.
Scientifically speaking, bhang consists of the dried leaves and small stalks, with a few fruits; ganja of the flowering and fruiting heads of the female plant; while charas is the resin itself, collected in various ways as it naturally exudes.
The use of bhang in moderation is comparatively harmless; ganja and charas when taken in excess are undoubtedly injurious, leading to crime and sometimes to insanity.
In accordance with the recommendations of the Hemp Drugs Commission, the government of India passed an act in 1896 providing that, in regard to ganja and charas, cultivation of the plants should be restricted as much as possible, and that a direct quantitative duty should be levied on the drugs on issue from the warehouse in the province of consumption; while as regards bhang, cultivation of the hemp for its production should be prohibited or taxed, and collection of the drug from wild plants permitted only under licence, a moderate quantitative duty being levied in addition to vend fees.
On the 29th of March, two days before its arrival, a sepoy named Manghal Pandi, from whom the mutineers afterwards came to be spoken of as "Pandies," drunk with bhang and enthusiasm, attempted to provoke a mutiny in the 34th Bengal infantry, and shot the adjutant, but Hearsey's personal courage suppressed the danger.
Hemp as a drug or intoxicant for smoking and chewing occurs in the three forms of bhang, ganja and charas.
Bhang, the Hindustani siddhi or sabzi, consists of the dried leaves and small stalks of the hemp; a few fruits occur in it.
One of the commonest of these preparations is made by heating the bhang with water and butter, the butter becoming thus charged with the resinous and active substances of the plant.
It is brownishgreen, and otherwise resembles bhang, as in odour and taste.
The use of hemp (bhang) in India was noticed by Garcia d'Orta in 1563.