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India: Himachal Pradesh Is Legalising Cannabis Cultivation for Medicinal, Industrial Use
Tuesday 23 Mar 2021
“The cannabis produced in the state is of high quality, and there is potential to undertake its controlled cultivation,” Jai Ram Thakur, the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, announced at the state’s budget session.
In India, the cultivation of cannabis is banned under a central statute: the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. However, the statute includes a provision allowing individual states to “permit and regulate” not only its cultivation, but also its possession, transport, sale, and purchase, among other things, subject to certain conditions.
In a bid to strengthen its economy and become more self-reliant — especially as it attempts to emerge from the global health crisis that increased its debt-burden to Rs. 60,500 crore — the state has decided to avail of this provision.
However, Himachal Pradesh won’t be the first Indian state to do so. Its neighbor, Uttarakhand, became the first state in the country to legalize cannabis cultivation several years ago, followed by others including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Manipur, which either legalized it or announced plans to do so.
“This creates investment and employment opportunities. The state government proposes to frame a policy to permit commercial hemp cultivation with proper regulatory framework,” Thakur noted.
The state government is hoping the shift will attract a rapidly growing hemp industry and generate employment at a time when 57% of the country’s working population are worried they’ll lose their jobs within the year due to the pandemic-related economic crisis.
Locals had already been clamoring for the legalization of cannabis cultivation in the state to make it a legitimate source of livelihood. “I don’t favor any laxity to those who are in the narcotics trade in the garb of cannabis cultivation but definitely support demand for allowing non-narcotics varieties, which will hugely benefit the locals,” Satya Prakash Thakur, former horticulture minister of Himachal Pradesh, had told Outlook last year.
The state government is, reportedly, hoping to earn Rs. 18,000 crores every year from the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial uses.
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