“Babu Ji maal khatm hai” informed a small time shop owner on the outskirts of Shimla when asked about the availability of Marijuana (Charas), when I chanced to be around.
There was a sense of distress on face of the seeker who appeared to be desperately banking on the last available option. For me it was quite unnerving to learn about an effortless accessibility of banned Marijuana in the capital city.
Not being able to find the much needed joint to get a dope fix, the desperate seek started boasting about his contacts with Marijuana dealers in the state and his access to Malana cream famously known as “Champagne of Hashish” or “Instant Nirvana” just on a dial of phone number.
Though, Kullu is already known to an “Abode of Cannabis Lovers” but Marijuana, of late, is finding its way into the blood of entire Himachal Pradesh.
“What do you think why Americans, Israeli’s, Briton’s, and God knows who else visit Himachal. It is all for Malana cream” clued us up one of the dealers who had arrived on the spot within ten minutes of calling him on phone —- much faster than a pizza boy.
Although, Parbati Valley, the decipherable “Gateway to Heaven” is still considered to be at the forefront of illegal Marijuana cultivation but Marijuana farms are said to be mushrooming (in hiding) almost everywhere in the state. Its production is mainly carried out in Kullu, Mandi, Chamba, Kangra, Shimla and Sirmour districts.
Until 1985, cultivation of opium didn’t find any legal impediments and the trade flourished unchecked in almost all parts of the state especially in Kullu valley.
However, once the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) law was enacted and came into force, the entire dynamics changed. At present, cultivation, possession or retailing without a license are termed unlawful and entails imprisonment.
Due to state’s challenging topography very little employment opportunities are present for the locals and status quo is maintained even after more than 40 years of achieving statehood.
Residents in far flung villages are forced to farm and trade Marijuana for their livelihood. Despite seizures of contrabands and arrests of people including foreigners, the prohibited trade is not ready to die down any time soon.
Malana cream, in particular is regarded as one of the most expensive products worldwide for its high oil content. On an average, 10 grams (premium variety) that is sold for around (Rs 800 – Rs 1000) in Malana commands Rs 2300 – Rs 2500 in Delhi and almost 20 times in Amsterdam.
Himachal finds itself incongruously placed. The state knows well that the dilution of the Section 20 of the serving NDPS law of 1985 will surely suit its tourism based economy but fear brickbats from the so called civilized society.
Marijuana holds an imminent place in our ancient culture. Associted to with Lord Shiva, it finds liberal use especially during festivals such as Shivaratri and Holi clearly under the nose of administration.
Although, many prominent politicians namely Kullu MP Maheshwar Singh have openly voiced their opinion in favor of legalizing Marijuana in the past but to no avail.
Even the current Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh is of the similar view and in one of his interviews in a documentary by Amlan Dutta —– BOM alias One day ahead of Democracy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXQpatqjBk8 advocated the cause.
Those who argue that legalization of Marijuana can be en route for huge health loss to the youth must realize that many years of Marijuana ban hasn’t led to very good results either. In fact, a parallel black economy has only flourished.
By keeping Marijuana prohibited we have only allowed bunch of criminals to make a lot of money of late. It is almost unfeasible to implement legislation without taking into account the existing socio-economic and cultural realities.
Marijuana definitely has the potential in adding to the state’s exchequer (as tax money) and substitute apple as the major cash crop.
Legalization of Marijuana would make the state and the country more progressive, reduce spends of the narcotic agencies and create livelihood for unemployed “Paharis” in the state.