Calls for controlled cultivation of cannabis in Himachal Pradesh have received an unlikely impetus due to interest shown by countries like Canada, Israel and Malaysia in high quality cannabis extract from the state for industrial and medical purposes.
In March this year, the BJP government had withdrawn an official statement that said Himachal Pradesh, like Uttarakhand, could examine a proposal on cultivation of cannabis for “medicinal purposes and cultivation of low psychotropic content cannabis for hemp production.”
A section of growers, mainly in Shimla and Mandi parliamentary constituencies, have long been pressing political parties like the Congress and the BJP to legalise and promote cannabis and poppy cultivation to supplement their income, according to news agency IANS.
Kullu MLA Sunder Thakur has also advocated controlled cultivation of cannabis for economic returns to the locals.
But now the issue has gained traction again with ambassadors and high commissioners of many countries “evincing interest in high quality cannabis extracts, which grows in abundance in Kullu, Mandi and other parts of the state,” The Tribune reported.
The diplomats have said that the Himachal-produced cannabis hemp could create a stir in the international market as it is far superior than the one produced in Uttarakhand.
“The demand to provide cannabis extract has come in from ambassadors of some countries, who claim that medicines prepared from it are beneficial for treating cancer and diabetes,” Sanjay Kundu, Principal Secretary to chief minister Jairam Thakur, was quoted as saying. Uttarakhand has already notified a policy in this regard, he added.
The police, however, said that cannabis cultivation was a problem expanding to alarming proportions. “Police have been undertaking campaigns to destroy cannabis and poppy plants besides launching awareness campaigns, but that alone cannot contain the problem which is assuming alarming proportions,” SR Mardi, Director General of Police, told The Tribune.
He called for focusing on high- return cash crops to wean away locals from drug trade.