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Why Hemp- an environment friendly, anti-cancerous alternative to toxic industries is still illegal?

Hemp is something which brings up many thoughts in the Indian mind. Hemp is a plant grown in the northern hemisphere that takes about 3-4 months to mature. In old times, the plant was used not only for medicinal use but also for cultural, religious and spiritual reasons. The medicinal use became increasingly shunned only in the 20th century, not only in India but worldwide.

The reason was that cannabis has medicinal uses, but can also be used as a narcotic drug. Hemp is grown for non-drug use because it contains only trace amounts of THC. It is cultivated for making a wide range of products including foods, health products, fabric, rope, natural remedies, and much more. Building on this ancient wisdom, modern research into the plant’s constituents and nutritional profile has highlighted numerous potential health benefits and as you’ll read, hemp has something to offer everyone. We aim to shine a light on just a handful of the endless uses of Hemp.

According to the World Bank, our agriculture industry uses approximately 70 percent of the world’s freshwater supply. As the global population is increasing by every year, our demands for food and fresh water will grow accordingly. So, our need for crops that use less water grows with every season and hemp is considered a non-water intensive crop which makes it a sustainable choice. Hemp plant requires little water and no pesticides, pull large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air, and increase carbon and microbial content in soil.

In addition, Hemp’s extensive root system prevents soil loss and erosion, protecting farmers from the risk of flooding and crop loss as well as stabilizing the land near surrounding communities. What’s more, every single part of the plant can be used by farmers, for food, fuel, and even construction materials.

Plastic goods and by-products have become a topic of many environmental concerns in recent years. We use plastic products in almost every daily activity including driving, building, and even eating. These materials prove incredibly dangerous to the environment, often derived from non-renewable sources. Hemp, which can be made into a versatile bioplastic, is completely biodegradable and does not require harmful chemicals for production. Hemp also provides an extremely efficient alternative to timber-based paper products and an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic products that litter our waterways and oceans.

India can also write the success story of phenomenal development on the hemp paper which was once used to draft the Declaration of Independence of the US. One acre of hemp grown can produce the same amount of paper as 4 to 20 acres of trees. Hemp paper can be recycled up to eight times, while paper from tress can be recycled only three times. Hemp paper is made without the use of toxic chemicals and is more durable.

Hemp biofuel could be a key part of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Traditional fuel sources hurt the environment, and they’re running out. Air pollution from processing fossil fuels harms the troposphere, and indirectly depletes ozone from our atmosphere. The price for hyper efficiency is evident, which is why alternative fuel sources are becoming so important.

Today we focus on a fuel source that hits close to home. That alternative is hemp biofuel. We believe it could be part of a transition to a cleaner way of living. Made from the shiv, the inner woody stem of the hemp plant, mixed with a lime-based binder, hempcrete forms a lightweight, durable building material. This forms a non-load-bearing, sustainable, breathable and insulating material that can be used to form walls, floor slabs, ceilings and roof insulation, in both new build and restoration projects.

The sustainable hemp crop can be utilised in making more than 25,000 products. The various parts of the hemp plant are used to make different products. The seeds of hemp are edible and are considered highly nutritious with a high concentration of soluble and insoluble fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids for heart health and skin health. They have a rich nutrition profile. They contain high levels of antioxidants, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Hemp seeds may protect the brain, boost heart health, reduce inflammation, improve skin conditions, relieve rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, the magnesium and B vitamins present in hemp can help the body to manage and counter the effects of stress by impacting important nervous system chemical messengers.

Hemp has been used to treat a variety of health conditions. Some studies suggest that compounds derived from hemp plants could have anti-cancer properties. The cannabinoids in cannabis oil have undeniably helped cancer patients one way or another. Chemotherapy patients have also turned to cannabis oil for alleviating their post-chemo side effects such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, inflammation, neuropathic pain, immune suppression, and loss of appetite.

Watch the video below to know more health benefits of Hemp

Depression is fairly widespread without most people even knowing they have it. The endocannabinoid compounds in cannabis can help in stabilising moods which can ease depression. Cannabis can help reduce the pressure applied on the eyeball providing some temporary relief to individuals with glaucoma. Multiple sclerosis leads to painful muscle contractions and cannabis can help reduce that pain.

For those that have Parkinson’s disease cannabis can help reduce tremors and pain while also helping promote sleep. Marijuana works to stop the negative neurological effects and muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. In cases of the menopause, using the plant both internally and externally may offer the best outcome because topically the moisturising actions of the oil may help combat the dryness and loss of plumpness associated with the dropping oestrogen levels around the menopause, whilst internally, the hormone-balancing effect may help to ease symptoms such as hot flushes and mood swings.

If hemp is this much beneficial and powerful then why India lags behind legalising hemp? The reclassification of the plant is necessary, it should be decriminalised and heavily regulated. Decriminalising hemp will be of great economic benefit to the farmers.

People who know the difference and the potential of the plant like us are open to the idea of growing hemp but need government support in some form. We are hoping to take the discussion forward that would end up in a policy framework.

Hemp is considered as cannabis under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, (NDPS) act and is banned due to the presence of THC which induces psychotropic effects. The illegality of cultivating the crop makes it difficult to procure. As a result of this long-term prohibition, most people have forgotten the industrial uses of the plant and continue to misidentify hemp with its cannabis cousin, marijuana. Hemp can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials that can be incorporated into thousands of products. Its seeds and flowers are used in health foods, organic body care, and other nutraceuticals.

Before 1985 it was entirely legal to grow hemp in India. During the time of World War 1, India used to be the largest manufacturer of Hemp.

India has a history of misuse of even prescription drugs that are otherwise beneficial. In Indian context, when prescription drugs are grossly misused, how can we ensure disciplined used of cannabis? The younger generation is living in an era of personal liberty, rising affluence, more prone to addiction and struggling with personal relationships. Introduction of yet another psychoactive drug will wreak havoc on a population still struggling with tobacco, alcohol and pan masala.

There are various reasons why hemp is still illegal in India. First reason for not legalising the Cannabis is the amount of revenue earned by the government via letting the liquor and tobacco companies run their business in our country and government tax on weed is bound to generate nominal revenue compared to alcohol as weed is way cheaper than alcohol. This syndicate exercises its influence to not let a safer and nominal competition enter the market for they are constrained to suffer.

Second, sale of cannabis is for the purpose of business rather than any recreational purpose. Most of the cannabis dealers pay a sum (bribe) to the police for them to keep their black market functioning. This bribe which is a huge amount of money attained by police eventually reaches the regional political leader. So legalising hemp would impact on the government itself.

Third, there are very few people in our political and administrative organisation which have long term vision as they are elected by the mass and administrators are selected by the virtue of just an exam. Idealistic people who are generally rare are silenced by the majority or become lost in the crowd.

People believe that it is a recreational drug and don’t understand other benefits of hemp. One being the biggest reason why most of the substances are ultimately banned in the world is the economic and financial potential of these substances which when used adversely create a lot of wealth.

We at Himalayan Hemp are working for a fair economic model for hemp that will better protect people’s health and safety than doing the prohibitionist approach. We believe Hemp is the answer to a collective sense of well-being within our bodies and our environment. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the sale, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis. Let India become smarter and it will be legal here too. We are changing and hopefully the next few years to come, the NDPS act should be amended and god-given plants should be made legal. Hemp is the change we want to see on the planet.

- Himalayan Hemp


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