CHANDIGARH: Will the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government in Himachal Pradesh legalize cannabis cultivation in the state? Israel, Canada and Malaysia have reportedly approached the state government to provide cannabis extract for use in the pharma industry.
The hemp from cannabis in Kullu and Manali regions has huge international demand because of its high quality.
Medicines prepared from cannabis are used in treating cancer and diabetes. Climatic conditions in the state are congenial for its cultivation, said sources.
A few elected representatives have been demanding the legalisation of cannabis through controlled cultivation, saying it can help boost the economy of the state.
In the past, both the Congress and BJP governments have tread cautiously on the issue. For long, a few cultivators in Shimla and Mandi parliamentary constituencies had been demanding that cannabis and poppy cultivation needs to be legalised and promoted to supplement their income. They argue that the apple crop is declining due to variable climatic conditions and other reasons. Experts further say that Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have strengthened their rural economy after allowing selective cultivation of poppy.
AK-47, Himalayan Queen, Skunk Balls and Black Windows are a few names under which hashish (extracted from cannabis sativa) is sold illegally at exorbitant rates to drug cartels in Parvati valley. The cannabis strain produced in Malana and Sainj area of Kullu district, known by the name Malana cream, is known for its high potency as it has high levels of the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol.
Now hybrid varieties of cannabis are being smuggled from Russia and Netherlands and sown in the interior areas. Chuhar, a remote region in Mandi district, is infamous for its opium cultivation. All this started in the 1970s when foreign tourists taught the villagers of Kullu to extract an intoxicating resin from the charas plant. Earlier, they used the hemp to make baskets, slippers and ropes.
It is learnt that due to the cannabis cultivation, Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Dharamsala and McLeodganj have emerged as drug smuggling centres and Charas which is produced in the hill state is smuggled to Holland, Israel and Italy.