CBD in India: Legality, Manufacturing, History and More

CBD products have been on an incredible rise around the world and the global market for this beneficial product seems to be rapidly expanding. In this article, we at Essentia Pura want to explore the legality of CBD products in India. We will not stop there. We intend to also provide you with some useful tips on checking the quality of CBD and share our thoughts regarding the dominant players on the Indian CBD market. 

Nonetheless, in order to better understand the CBD oil market, the legal status of CBD and the peculiarities of the CBD oil business in India we must first briefly discuss the history of CBD in India as well as the history of drug regulation on the Indian subcontinent. 

A Brief History of India drug laws

But before we get too deep into the evolution of the drug laws in India, it would be useful to clear up what exactly CBD is and why drug laws are still such an important part of the CBD business landscape.

What is CBD?

As you might know, CBD is short for Cannabidiol, which is one of 113 cannabinoids (compounds) that come from the cannabis plant. 

Cannabis is without a doubt one of the most well known plants in the world. however it has been treated in many different ways throughout history - this of course affects how everything connected to Cannabis is seen by the authorities and this includes CBD. There were eras in the history when cannabis was praised and widely used - we will see that this was the case in India thorough most of history. On the other hand, in recent decades Cannabis was treated quite differently - as a dangerous drug!

The tide seems to be turning! In recent years, researchers have worked intensely on the cannabis plant and its potential uses. The results point to numerous positive effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa L. This research sparked the interest of consumers and started a boom of economic activity in the sector. 

Some legal obstacles to the growth of the CBD market are still present. Even though the World Health Organization proclaimed CBD products as generally safe to use in its report, governments around the world are still reluctant to let anything associated with cannabis into wider use.

This is why good knowledge of the drug laws, the history of drug regulation and the trajectory of the regulation is still crucial if you are to be active in the CBD world. But even if CBD can legally be extracted from cannabis, how can it be used?

Effects and uses of CBD and cannabis

Cannabis is a plant with numerous effects. Some claim it is responsible for relaxation and health benefits, others prefer recreational use, some see other beneficial value in it. It is a plant with plenty of uses and it is grown for food, entertainment, industrial and pharmaceutical purposes. It is grown around the globe for fiber, seeds, seed oil, and medicinal products, however it also grows in the wild in some places, including in India. 

CBD has been shown to have numerous benefits to individuals' health as well as to the health and well being of pets. One important aspect of CBD use is that using CBD products is not connected to getting high. The high feeling which is often associated with cannabis is due to THC, another cannabinoid, found in the cannabis plant but totally unrelated to CBD products, as CBD is isolated from other cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant - such as THC. 

There is a broader difference in the plants used. The plant that is rich in THC and is used for getting high is commonly known as marijuana, whereas the plant used for CBD products is commonly known as hemp. You can read more about the difference between CBD and THC in our special article.

Hemp does not get you high, at the same time the numerous cannabinoids in this strain of the cannabis plant may have major beneficial effects on your well being. This is something that had been discovered a long time ago in India and was part of the cultural heritage for hundreds if not thousands of years. 

Cannabis had a big role to play in Indian society through its history. Hemp, together with CBD products is now beginning to emerge as one of the most important products in the growing Indian subcontinent.

Use and regulation of Cannabis in Indian history

As mentioned above, Cannabis has been used in India since about 2000 BCE - the cannabis plant has been part of Indian society for more than 4000 years

Even more, it is considered to be one of the five sacred plants in the holy texts of the Hindu religion. The Hindus believe that the famous god Shiva has chosen cannabis as favorite food as it refreshed him. Even the gods of India recognized the potential for well being in CBD products.

Even though hemp and consequently CBD have a rich cultural history in India, various colonial authorities tried to criminalize its use. The Brits tried to criminalize hemp and cannabis in 1838, 1871, and 1877, however they were not successful. Hemp was so popular and important in India that the Brits feared social unrest if they banned it, so they decided to tax it instead. 

Cannabis was only made illegal in independent India, following the the adoption of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961. The international treaty classified cannabis together with hard drugs. India was strongly against such classification, however it was only partially successful in convincing other countries to follow them in opposition. Nonetheless, products made from leaves of the cannabis plant were still considered as appropriate for use! 

India did not immediately comply with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and only adjusted its laws in 1985, while still allowing for the use of leaves. 

The act stipulates that cannabis with more than 0.3% of THC is considered a narcotic drug, not complying with this can have grave consequences for you and your business. Although the act allowed the use of leaves due to the great cultural heritage of cannabis in India, the new laws still had a devastating effect on the hemp industry.

Nonetheless, we want to end on an upbeat note - things are looking upwards now. Due to the extraordinary work of the Great Legalisation Movement India and Indian Industrial Hemp Association the authorities in India are changing their stance as well. 

Is CBD legal in India?

So, to answer the original question, is CBD legal in India? 

Yes, under certain circumstances - if it is extracted from the leaves of the cannabis plant and does not contain more than 0,3% of THC, then it is considered to be completely legal and can be sold. However this does not mean that just about anyone can produce CBD products - if you want to sell CBD oil as a medicinal product, it has to be manufactured by a CBD producer with a valid license if.

Furthermore, if you are thinking of trying yourself out at selling CBD oil in India, your mind can be at ease. The Indian authorities are going so far as to encourage the research and cultivation of cannabis with low THC content - such as CBD oil and CBD cosmetic products. This shows incredible goodwill on the side of the government and their understanding of the benefits of CBD for the well being of Indians and potential that the CBD industry has in India.

Even more, the National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is aware that hemp is an excellent source of biomass, fiber, and, an important source of high-value oil - this includes CBD oil. 

Nonetheless there are a couple more things you should be aware of, before starting to sell CBD products in India. 

As mentioned, CBD oil products can only be derived from leaves of the cannabis plant and cannot contain more than 0,3% of THC. The other major takeaways are the limits on labeling and advertising. You should not market the product as having psychoactive effects; and the image of the cannabis plant cannot be used on the product's label!

We would like to emphasize that some Indian states still have their own, specific rules regarding the sale of CBD, especially if it is marketed as a medicinal product - in this case the CBD products may have to be licensed by a competent authority. We strongly advise to check the specific laws and regulations and seek advice of local legal counsel prior to commencing with your CBD business.


As you are now well aware, hemp and CBD are big in India, so there is no shortage of companies trying to manufacture, distribute and sell CBD all throughout India. 

Nonetheless there are still significant differences between companies in the market. The companies that sell CBD oil products in India differ on the ingredients and the quality of hemp they use for extraction, the quality of their production facility and the control measures they have in place to provide their customers with the best possible products.

All of the above means that the market is full of superb products and companies innovating and experimenting with different products. Unfortunately, you might occasionally stumble upon a subpar product which may ruin your CBD experience.

Do not let a one time bad experience discourage you! If you want to distribute and sell CBD products to India and you are looking for a supplier, you should prepare for a good vetting process in order to be sure that you are only dealing with the best manufacturers. We understand that this is a difficult task and you can easily get lost in the thousands of different products that you can purchase. This is why we have prepared our list of top 5 CBD manufacturers that sell to India. 

  1. Essentia Pura

Even though Essentia Pura is not an Indian company it has all the necessary expertise and drive to succeed in the Indian CBD market. Essentia Pura is a Slovenian company, founded in 2014, but works on the global scale. 

It is engaged in manufacturing and wholesale of CBD oils and other CBD related products. It specializes in supercritical CBD extraction and has, together with industry experts and scientists, pioneered numerous applications, processes, and developments that merge science, technology, nature, and healthcare. 

Quality of the products is of paramount importance to the company. Essentia Pura aims for the highest possible standards in its quality control procedures, based on this, their supply chain is regularly audited and all manufacturing and R&D are performed in a highly controlled laboratory environment and by a team experienced in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industries. Essentia Pura is committed to best industry practice regarding sustainability of CBD oil products it manufactures.

  1. Hempstrol

Hempstrol is one of the biggest manufacturers of hemp and CBD products in India, which has been on the market for quite a while. Their products are lab tested and is a licensed seller of CBD products from Rajasthan Drug Development Authority. It is proud to be a socially conscious company, which only works with authentic and best sourced hemp.

  1. Cannavedic

Cannavedic is another one of the premier manufacturers of CBD products in India. In its production process and marketing materials it emphasizes the deep cultural importance CBD has in India, due to the popularity of hemp. It works to provide its customers with Herbal and plant-based medicines that have been at the center of Indian medicine, which uses comprehensive practices to help prevent, alleviate, or combat certain ailments and diseases and enhance wellbeing.


BOHECO is short for the Bombay hemp company and this is a business that takes pride in the Indian hemp heritage and therefore ensures that all their products are made from local, Indian hemp that was grown right by the Himalaya mountains. It offers various different hemp products to their customers and focuses on sustainable products while maintaining top notch quality of their hemp products.

  1. Satliva

Satliva is a hemp based shop and manufacturer in Bagalore, India. It is proud of the fact that its suppliers are based on the foothills of the Himalayas, providing their products with distinct characteristics of the mountains. As the other producers, it places a lot of thought into choosing its suppliers with sustainability in mind. They offer a great range of skin and body care products.

Where else is CBD legal?

If you are interested in learning more about the legality of CBD around the world make sure to check out our articles about other countries.

We have covered in depth, the legality of CBD in:

We at Essentia Pura always strive to make as many informative topics as possible in order to spread awareness regarding CBD and its benefits. Make sure to check out our blog if you are interested in these topics. 

Disclaimer: The laws and regulations on this topic are always changing, which means that any information on this topic can quickly become outdated. Moreover, we at Essentia Pura do not guarantee the accuracy of the data, as this article is for informational purposes only. However, it should give you a good overview of the current state in the EU and act as a solid starting point for more thorough research. We cannot stress enough the importance of thorough and correct knowledge on this subject for CBD sellers as well as customers.