Last week while announcing the Annual Budget Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur informed that the government is planning to legalize the controlled cultivation of high-quality cannabis ('charas') in the state. The government will soon come up with policies to regularize the cultivation of cannabis. “The cannabis produced in the state is of high quality and there is potential to undertake its controlled cultivation. Under the NDPS Act, 1985, there are provisions for the cultivation, production, maintenance, and transportation of cannabis.” Mr. Jai Ram Thakur said while announcing the Annual State Budget. As per the report, an estimated area of 2400 acres in Himachal Pradesh is already being used for the organized cultivation of cannabis. Every year, cannabis worth ₹960 crores are smuggled out of the state to the European and Scandinavian countries. Low-quality cannabis is already grown in several districts of Himachal Pradesh like Shimla, Chamba, and Sirmour.
Why the Government of Himachal Pradesh is planning to legalize the cultivation of cannabis?
The government wants to shed off the loan that has increased to ₹60,500 crores due to the COVID-19 financial crisis. With the legalization of 'charas' cultivation, the government plans to earn ₹18,000 crores annually. The move will help in creating 50,000 job opportunities thereby directly benefitting 2.8 lakh families having lower income.
Commercial use of cannabis
In Himachal Pradesh, cannabis is used to manufacture footwear, ropes, mats, food items, bio-fuel, paint, and ink. The cannabis extract can be used to manufacture medicines for the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's.
Other states that have legalized cannabis cultivation
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have already legalized cannabis cultivation while Manipur and Madhya Pradesh are considering legalizing it.