Updated: Dec 28, 2019
During the time of 1st world war, India was the largest manufacturing hub and labours hub for the English army. India used to be the largest manufacturers of textiles and fabrics made from natural fibers like cotton, hemp, flax, etc. As is happening across the world, there’s a demand for organic materials and foods. India is no exception and many have been seeking out hemp’s eco-friendly material.
Now in India cannabis medicine is legally available under the AYUSH ministry which means that the cannabis medicine allowed to be sold as an Ayurvedic medicine but not as allopathy or generic medicine. Well the catch here is that while the western countries legalising cannabis medicine and working on reintegrating cannabis and cannabinoids into the pharmacopeia but Indian government is pushing it as an Ayurvedic product with the loophole available in the NDPS act, where the use of cannabis leaves is allowed from which the cannabinoids can be extracted by different methods. It is illegal to process the bud or flower.
Consumption, growing and selling of cannabis hemp became a criminal offence. Yes before 1985, it was totally legal in India to cultivate, sell and consume cannabis hemp in various forms. It was not only legal for religious activities but it was legal as a whole. And now as per government regulations, the hemp grown in India can be processed for fibers only. The extraction and processing of oil from seeds, buds, leaves is still considered illegal.
It's no wonder that hemp has been described as a miracle plant. Then Why Hemp is partially legal in India by the government? Why not fully? Why there still remain strict guidelines in accordance to the federal government? Why only two states in India have developed an official set of policies governing the research and cultivation of hemp? How much time Indian government will take to consensually approve commercial hemp farming in all the states together? If Hemp is the answer to many of our environmental woes, then why it is still stigmatised, sidelined and denied for decades?
Hemp has a long history in India as well as in the western world. Its use as food, fuel, fibre and medicine has been well documented. Hemp makes its case in a world that’s yearning for things more natural and organic. As is happening across the world, there’s a demand for organic materials and foods. India is no exception and many have been seeking out hemp’s eco-friendly material. If Hemp produces the strongest and most durable natural fibre on earth and has the potential to change the village economy then why India lags behind legalizing it?
Hemp’s ever-growing popularity in India is noteworthy. Hemp, a high-value crop, is ideal for a State like Uttarakhand where topology and acute water scarcity come in the way of growing conventional crops. Uttarakhandstate government has issued the first ever licence to cultivate hemp (Cannabis Sativa.L) to the IIHA (Indian Industrial Hemp Association). The licence is issued for a period of 5 years on pilot basis. Many states in the Republic of India are still struggling to legalize the cultivation of hemp.
The economic potential of cannabis is clearly vast and many countries including Canada and China have robust hemp cultivation. In Canada well over 100,000 acres of land is being used to grow hemp. Farmers in India have a precious relationship with the soil that is almost absent among farmers from other countries. By cultivating hemp, farmers in India will be able to foster this relationship and reap the benefits of a higher personal income while also simultaneously benefiting the Indian industry and the whole economy.
Farmers will prosper by growing hemp because hemp can be used to manufacture goods such as canvas. Once manufactured, hemp canvas and fibre will have many uses, particularly with the armed forces. A reason for this is that canvas made from hemp is resistant to ultraviolet light, heat, mildew, and repels insects making it the perfect material for canvas used by the armed forces. In addition, the manufacture of canvas from hemp will help give an impetus to the domestic defence industry, something which is high on the government’s list of priorities.
Hemp is environment-friendly, consumes far less water than cotton, can be harvested in 3 months and returns nutrients into the soil after harvest, over 25,000 uses, grown and used for 10,000 years.The true scope of hemp still remains to be fully explored despite extensive research to fully understand its uses.In addition to providing a source of valuable material, hemp production creates thousands of jobs that sustain thousands of families. So the twin benefits of hemp fibre and other hemp extracts are supplemented by job creation and fuller utilization of natural resources. Furthermore, by growing hemp, an economy grows also.
After hemp cultivation is allowed in Uttarakhand, villagers who have moved to different parts of the country came back to their villages solely because cultivating hemp has presented them with a means to earn a livelihood. So, allowing hemp cultivation in all the states will benefit the farmers as they can live in their village and enjoy a far higher standard of living, and a higher savings rate, than they could while living and working in a city.
Using hemp, a fine and thin fibre of great durability and of high quality can be created which has multiple uses in the textile industry and even used with the military. In brief, Cannabis considered a harmful drug for decades is now reclaiming some of its lost glory and is even shining brightly in the eyes of many as it did in centuries past.
While much needs to be learned about the past and even the present of cannabis production and uses in the world, the real urgency lies in understanding what the future holds now that legalisation is well under way and is spreading fast.
In India, a land where hemp was an integral part of society and played a part in ceremonies in the past, hemp is now being rediscovered and being put to use to foster new industries. Governments are reframing policies related to industrial hemp under the state legislature and are taking positive steps to promote the cultivation of hemp. The hemp industry has vast potential to help in the growth of various markets.
China is the leading commercial farming country in the world and just like china, other countries are getting benefit from commercial farming of hemp. India should also make his bill in lower house for the growth of its economy. With this, farmers and villagers will get financial help and better livinghood.
Hemp farmers and hemp manufacturers across the nation has to approach the government to make changes in the hemp policies for the betterment of the society. Just like IIHA who was able to convince the then Congress government in Uttarakhand to come out with a policy for hemp cultivation, which was adopted by the subsequent BJP government with some changes.
The growth of hemp cultivation in India owing to its favorable condition can not only result in making the country one of the largest producers, but a world leader in the evolving hemp economy. The time when India is trying to find alternatives to the conventional farming that involved chemical fertilisers and pesticides, himalayan hemp can lead the way with better sustainable agriculture and organic farming practices.
We believe the misinterpretation of hemp as a dangerous narcotic has been pushed for decades but now we are making people aware about the positive sides of hemp. The battle to get this recognized still needs to be fought. There are still people out there who benefit from keeping the link between hemp and marijuana alive.
We at Himalayan Hemp community insists that it is moving hemp away from its associations with drugs.We shall soon see India reclaim its natural piece at a leadership level. It wouldn’t be exaggerated to say that the legendary day is not far when lower house of India will unanimously approve commercial hemp farming.