What is Himalayan Hemp (History and Present)?
Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.
When Pandit Nehru said these glorious words, it was the beginning of an independent journey for Indians. At the same time, ganja or bhang (cannabis) was still celebrating its free status in the country. Even though, draconian united nations conventions against psychotropic substances tried to take it away from the hands of Indian people in 1961 and 1971 but Indian governments have wholeheartedly denied this as ganja was one of the five holy plants mentioned in the vedas and inter-wined with the local culture as proved by the 1893 cannabis study conducted in British India.
However, the nation was suffering after the assassination of then prime minister, Indira Gandhi in 1984 and newly elected prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi was still struggling to find a way to lead Indians. He agreed for banning all substances under the evil narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) law which also included Himalayan Hemp.
Let’s go back a little. Perhaps, way back to the times to silk road (Around 114 BCE – 1450s CE) when Himalayas were not divided by boundaries. Salt traders from China and Tibet and opium traders from Persia halted in the Himalayan regions like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Nepal during their long horse journeys connecting East and West. These traders used to take long halts in Himachal Pradesh enjoying the local culture with their food and popular, Hashish locally known as Charas.
The art of converting local Himalayan hemp buds or bhang into charas was developed due to snowfalls. As the harvest season ended in the month of October, all the bhang used to get destroyed due to heavy snowfalls. Therefore, locals developed the art of rubbing the plant resin (later identified in 1974 as THC) by using their hands. With their delicious and healthy diet mixed with the local Himalayan hemp, traders used to stay and rest for long times enjoying the local culture.
Local community did not only use local bhang for keeping themselves warm in the highly frigid mountainous region but also, preserved it for maintaining the high immunity as they used to live for over 100 years without coming across any diseases. Hempmade socks, shoes, clothes, yarn, cords, and ropes were used by them as the depiction of local cultural attire. Moreover, hemp seeds and leaves were used for making delicious teas, chutneys and fritters. Completely, unaware of what is going on in the outside world, Himalayan community was shocked to hear the news of Himalayan hemp getting banned at South East Asia in 1985. Still, trying to revive the slowly dying heritage, local community has suffered massively due to complete disregard of the central Indian governments and state governments. Though, apple was tried as an alternate mean of income but it cannot be used for making a cultural impression like Himalayan Hemp did.
Many families have been destroyed due to arrests in the name of one of the five holy plants and a lot of ecological destruction has been carried out by burning the naturally-growing hemp plants. It has not only led to the total chaotic community and environmental imbalance but it has also taken away the right to practice the local practice which belongs to the first crop ever seeded and harvested by the human beings.
Himalayan Hemp is not Industrial hemp (which may be genetical modified as well). For making hygienic and healthy products out of hemp, we need to use local Himalayan hemp to actually cherish the benefits of 100% organic and naturally existing plant.
Himalayan Hemp is also psychoactive in nature due the presence of THC in its leaves and flowers. It cannot be categorised as cannabis sativa as well because it is the wild Indian cannabis plant which grows up to 15 - 20 feet in height as well. Therefore, to eliminate the confusion completely, we have decided to define the hemp growing in the Himalayan region as Himalayan hemp which can be used for treating patients by using THC and CBD components. Physchochemical compounds found in Himalayan Hemp are unique in terms of geodiversity and should be studied further as they can provide cure for many illness. Moreover, rest of the parts can be used for making a variety of products related to textiles, housing, food, bioplastics, biofuel, etc.
Himalayan Hemp cooperative community preserves the indigenous Himalayan hemp strain by using an eco-socio-capitalistic model with the help of farmers residing in the Himalayan Belt.