Hemp Cultivation: A friend or foe to farmers?
Existence of government excised bhang shops as a part of the society in Rajasthan, Varanasi and Orissa goes way back to the olden times. Whereas, Hemp Cultivation in India has seen a positive approach only in Uttarakhand and western Uttar Pradesh in recent times. They legalised cultivation with THC content between 0.3-1.5%. Where as, in the Himalayan region, Cannabis Indica grows wildly in abundance across the wild farmlands, contain up to 15% THC. Himachal Pradesh Government, however been concerned about the recreational use of the plant and rise of the national as well as international drug mafia.
The local farmers have been fighting for the decriminalisation to cultivate the hemp or bhaang ever since it has been marked as a Schedule I drug under NDPS Act, 1985. Since bhaang grows in Himachal Pradesh in wild and in abundance, it could be an alternative livelihood for the local farmers. Rather, they are being caught and are sentenced imprisonment for possessing a holy plant. Their ancestors sustained with by extracting medicine out of bhaang, and using the rest for clothing and housing purposes for hundreds of years. Decriminalisation of the plant in 1985 has restricted the locals from following their own culture and the lifestyle.
Himachal Pradesh government has been approached by several panchayats and have filed a PIL to legalise hemp cultivation so that earning livelihood for would be much easier for them. Not to mention a sudden drop in the activities of drug mafia and diverting the entire mafia economy to green economy. Allowing the farmers to cultivate the indigenous Himalayan strain will not only clean the entire drug economy, but will also reduce carbon footprint in the environment.
“Alternative farming is the only way of controlling cannabis cultivation”
- O P Sharma, former superintendent of Narcotics Control Bureau
After almost 35 years of decriminalisation, the locals till believe that hemp cultivation will be looked as an alternative livelihood for the farmers by the local government. The concern of rise in drug mafia because of this can be diverted in medicinal research and developing medicines for desires like cancer, Alzheimer and Schizophrenia from the psychotic compounds CBD and THC, and use the stocks to produce fibre, create, bio-fuel, bio-plastic, hemp seed oil, hemp seed flour etc.
Thousands of kilos of charas is exported every year from India. The government of India is hammering this as a rising drug addicts issue in India. However, they are overlooking the medicinal research and its positive effects on human body and mind.
Women empowerment is another issue that can be addressed if the cultivation of hemp is decriminalised. A small scale textile industry could be established where they learn working with hemp and make different products like sanitary pads, cloth, paper, etc.
Cultivation of hemp and medical marijuana or bhaang is now legal in countries like Canada, US, France, Argentina, Germany and many more for both medical and recreational use. This has helped in recovering as well as rise in the economy of all these countries. Advancements in the field of medicine to cure - until now incurable diseases like cancer will bring about a medical revolution.
Current state loan of Himachal Pradesh is over 49,000 Cr, legalising the cultivation of hemp will be like lending a hand to the farmers and the government to be debt free and contribute to the national economy.
Drug mafia and lobbies have been in the roots of the system since the very beginning. Legalising and taking control to regulate bhang in the market themselves can be seen as aa plausible alternative to eliminate such groups and activities from the state.