With Colorado, the American state having legalized marijuana, the opposition that the herbal psychotic substance faces runs across the world has found acceptance in the alternative to make recreational and medicinal pot legitimate and available.
The bold legislation in the US state can prove instrumental in transforming the inflexible age old NDPS act of 1985 in India. Legalizing the marijuana trade is what India, (Himachal in particular) requires if it wants to smoke in the economic benefits of the “wonder weed.”
Himachal Pradesh as a state is counted as the largest producer of hashish (charas / marijuana) in India and all of it’s done illegally on more than 2,100 hectares of cultivable farmland and encroached forest lands.
Turning the contraband trade into a legal one, would not only save many from the hands of law, free up a lot of police services deployed to contain the illegality but would also add to the state revenues just as the alcohol business does.
The small mountain state is already burdened with a piling debt of more than Rs 29,000 crores.
Even at a modest market price of Rs 1.25 Lakhs per Kg, the contraband trade is said to be valued at several hundred crores and goes about untaxed.
Better quality marijuana grown in higher reaches of Kullu valley particularly around Malana is sold at premium prices and is much in demand in India and around the world.
It has been estimated that just by legalizing marijuana, an annual economy of more than 2000 crores, equal if not more than the fruit economy of Himachal , can be generated that would provide sustainable living to many marginal farmers and curtail unemployment in remote valleys to a large extent.
Where ‘vice stocks’ like tobacco and alcohol find a listing on premium stock exchanges, trade in marijuana would find many takers on a Futures and Options exchange by gaining from legal trade in the commodity.
Market prices of marijuana could drop drastically, if the trade is made legal, can lead to larger tobacco and agribusiness corporations taking over the marijuana market completely.
But the risk to reward ratio is for legalizing the trade, something that even political leaders from Himachal Pradesh have been demanding for long.
With felling of forests, mining limestone for cement plants or harnessing rivers for hydroelectricity, defeating the states objectives of conserving its fragile climate as impacts of global warming become more intense, surely marijuana cultivation can even help out and could even earn carbon credits for vulnerable mountain communities.