Ancient Pakistani rituals with cannabis juxtaposed with modern medical imagery.

“Bhang to CUD: Pakistan’s Evolving Cannabis Narrative”


Cannabis, often celebrated for its therapeutic benefits and cultural significance, has a long-standing history in Pakistan. But with its widespread use comes the challenge of Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD). In this post, we’ll explore the historical roots of cannabis in Pakistan, its modern implications, and the rising concern of CUD.

Historical Roots of Cannabis in Pakistan

Cannabis has been an integral part of Central Asia for centuries. In Pakistan, it’s deeply woven into the cultural fabric. Ancient scriptures, like the Atharvaveda, revered cannabis as a sacred plant. Traditionally, it was consumed in rituals, medicines, and even daily diets. The mid-20th century saw a shift in its consumption patterns, influenced by global countercultures. However, by the 1980s, this trend began to wane due to political changes and global anti-drug campaigns.

Modern Consumption and Legal Landscape

Today, cannabis in Pakistan is a tale of contrasts. Traditional consumption methods like charas and bhang coexist with new global trends. The legal landscape has also evolved. While the Control of Narcotics Substance Act of 1997 deemed producing, selling, or distributing cannabis illegal, 2020 marked a significant policy shift. The Federal Government of Pakistan legalized hemp production, recognizing both its cultural significance and economic potential.

Cannabis Use Disorder: Recognizing the Signs

Understanding CUD begins with recognizing its signs and symptoms. These include a strong desire to use cannabis, unsuccessful efforts to reduce its use, and withdrawal symptoms when one tries to quit. For a diagnosis of CUD, at least two of these symptoms should occur within a 12-month period. The severity can range from mild to severe, based on the number of symptoms an individual exhibits.

Addressing CUD in Pakistan

Addressing CUD requires a multi-faceted approach. Behavioral therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, have shown promise. While there’s no FDA-approved medication for CUD, some drugs can help manage withdrawal symptoms. In Pakistan, the challenge is twofold: recognizing CUD as a genuine concern and ensuring access to the right resources for those affected.


Cannabis has been a part of Pakistan’s fabric for centuries. As the country stands at the crossroads of tradition and modernity, the narrative of cannabis and CUD is still unfolding. The journey ahead involves recognizing the challenges, providing resources, and ensuring that the rich history of cannabis in Pakistan is balanced with the well-being of its people.

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