After buds and nugs, it seems Indians are now obsessed with Msalana cream.
Searches for the special type of contraband which draws its name from a little village in Himachal Pradesh spiked this week after the Narcotics Control Bureau arrested two persons while investigating the high-profile drug case in connection with actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death by suicide.
According to reports, Rs 2.5 crores worth of Malana Creme was also confiscated from the two absconding men.
A look at Google Trends reveals that on December 9 when news of the arrest was first shared, searches for Malana cream, Malana village, and the contraband's connection to Sushant Singh Rajput's death spiked manifold, with many looking up what 'Malana Cream' really was.
What is Malana Creme?
Malana creme is the name of a particular variety of hashish (hash/charas) which grows specifically in the Malana Valley of Himachal Pradesh's Kullu district. It has a distinct flavour, texture and smell and is considered one of the finest varieties of charas in the world, thanks to the distinct environmental conditions it grows in and the high amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) it contains. It sells anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000 per 'tola' (10 grams) in and around Himachal Pradesh and nearby states. Due to its potency, the clay-like, creamy hash has high international demand as well.
Where is Malana?
Malana is a remote and the only village in the Malana Vally in Kullu. After centuries of isolated living, the village was "discovered" in the second half of the 20th century when it became part of the famed "Hippie trail" in India during the height of the "flower-power" revolution in the West. As the area and the nearby Parvati Valley became hubs of "drug tourism", the valley region became known for its easy availability of psychedelic drugs and quality cannabis. In recent years, the area has also started attracting heavy domestic tourism, which has received a boost thanks to been better roadways in 2007.
Is Malana Cream legal?
No. Though hashish is known locally as bhang in Himachal Pradesh, cultivation and consumption of malana creme is not legal in India. It is derived from the resin of cannabis plants and is usually extracted by rubbing fresh cannabis leaves using hands. The implementation of the law becomes tricky in certain regions of Himachal Pradesh such as Malana where the cannabis plant grows naturally. The area is heavily supervised by security agencies who are constantly on the lookout for illegal cannabis fields.
Is cannabis legal in India?
Cultivation and consumption of marijuana or cannabis high in THC is illegal in India. In 1985, India passed the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1985 which criminalised cannabis in the form of buds or resin (charas) while allowing the sale of bhang - a byproduct of cannabis that is still heavily consumed on festivals like Holi and Shivratri. The sale and regulation of the latter were left up to states to decide.
How is Malana Cream connected to Sushant Singh Rajput's case?
The death by suicide of Bollywood actor earlier in June launched a three-pronged investigation into the matter, with the NCB probing a possible "drug angle" after it was found that Rajput smoked marijuana. Based on some WhatsApp chats involving drugs, the NCB has been probing the alleged use of drugs in some quarters of Bollywood and also aarrested actress Rhea Chakraborty who was also Rajput’s girlfriend, her brother Showik Chakraborty, some staff members working for Rajput, and a few others under various sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. According to the NCB, the accused arrested with the malana creme, identified as Regel Mahakal. The accused allegedly used to supply drugs to Anuj Keshwani, also an accused in the case who was arrested in September this year, who was supplying it to others.