The Northeast Indian state of Manipur is known to have some of the highest quality ganja (weed) in the country. And soon, you may just be able to buy it legally for medical purposes. Manipur’s government now wants to legalise marijuana for medical and industrial purposes, and it’s probably high time given the plant naturally sprouts in the state.
At a press conference held in Imphal on Saturday, September 21, the state’s chief minister N Biren Singh declared that the government was seriously considering legalising medical marijuana to help boost the state’s revenue. “Our revenue must be strong. Moreover, cannabis grows in the wild abundantly in Manipur and this can be used for extraction of hemp oil which is known for its medicinal property,” Singh told The Indian Express . He believes this hemp oil can not only help patients of paralysis but also help the state strengthen its economy. “We will discuss the issue at the next meeting of state Cabinet. Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have already legalised it for medicinal purposes,” he said. He also shared an incident where a mother sold her house to invest in medical cannabis oil for her wheelchair-bound daughter, even posting it on his Facebook with the caption, “God must be crazy! Happy mother!”
He also said start-ups would be considered as part of this plan, but only if they had high potential to be a part of this industry. Despite weed being a part of the Indian Vedic culture, recreational cannabis use continues to be banned in the country. But now, the movement to legalise marijuana is slowly catching heat, and while cities like Varanasi and Noida have always had permission to grow and sell bhang, one of the plant’s byproducts, other states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have now been allowed to grow it for research purposes.
While the cultivation of cannabis has been banned under the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 in the state since 2000, it continues to be illegally grown, often by militant sections of the society that authorities steer clear of, and has a high demand in states like Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.
Manipur also lies on the edge of the Golden Triangle of the drug trade between Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and China. Surveys by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and other private agencies say cultivation has been going on for four decades in the state’s Churachandpur, Senapati and Ukhrul districts. So considering it’s kinda happening with or without the state’s consent, regularising production in a monitored and systematic manner would be a good idea. This way, weed can be used as an ingredient by companies making medicines or for other industrial purposes like hemp—a sustainable byproduct that can be used to make cloth and paper—and could turn into a booming business.
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