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Landrace Strains: The Beginning of Cannabis

Landrace Strains: The Beginning of Cannabis

Participants in the cannabis culture may be familiar with a few of the rare varieties of the plant that are categorized as landrace strains, including Colombian Gold, Durban Poison, Northern Lights, and Afghan Kush. “Landrace” simply refers to the small number of surviving strains of cannabis that evolved naturally in the geographic region in which they were initially discovered (by 20th century humans, that is). Some experts believe that about 100 of these rare strains exist today.

Landrace strains hail from global regions such as Jamaica, Afghanistan, India, Africa, Mexico, Pakistan, and Central America. They are believed to have originated in the Hindu Kush region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is one reason that so many strain names incorporate the term “Kush,” such as the always-popular OG Kush (the “OG” means “Ocean Grown,” denoting West Coast breeding and cultivation).

Many cultivators believe that the best examples of cannabis sativa are grown in a region as close to the equator as possible and at a relatively high elevation. Thus, mountainous areas in Central America, the Middle East, Africa, and Indonesia are almost perfectly suited to the cultivation of high-quality cannabis. This is no coincidence; landrace strains hail from most of these regions. Technically, landrace strains are those that have stabilized over time as a result of natural inbreeding.

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Other definitions of landrace cannabis include any that hasn’t purposefully been bred or otherwise manipulated by humans. Such indigenous varieties of marijuana, because they have evolved within a particular region, are very precisely acclimated to their local climates — and may offer unique medicinal qualities that are specifically tuned to the native humans of that region. Wrote Rick Pfrommer, Director of Education at Harborside Health Center, one of the nation’s largest dispensaries:

“It’s not that [landrace strains are] necessarily better, [they’re] just different, and perhaps more effective for some patients’ specific conditions or needs.”

Source of All Modern Strains

Many readers aren’t interested in a history lesson, however. How are landrace strains related to modern varieties and hybrids? Put simply, landraces are the origin of all modern cannabis strains. They are the genesis of cannabis in society and reflect its state of development, or evolution, before modern humans began breeding and cultivating the herb for medicine, lifestyle enhancement, and profit.

Cannabis breeders long ago took original landrace strains and bred, or crossed, them in an effort to create new strains possessing the best characteristics of both parents (and, just as with dogs or humans, hopefully few of their bad traits). Some strains feature shorter growing periods or are more resistant to pests or mold, making them the desire of cultivators. Others, especially sativa varieties, may be more difficult to grow and feature relatively long flowering cycles, but can also deliver unique medicinal and psychoactive effects that are sought by many patients and cannabis consumers.

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For all practical purposes, it must be assumed that many landrace strains, in their original, pure form, have been lost forever. Endless crosses over several decades in most areas of the world, especially North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe, have resulted in diluted genetics. The sad reality is that many “pure” breeds of cannabis are often mislabeled. Many purported examples of seeds, harvested cannabis flowers, or concentrates from pure landrace strains are inevitably not. Instead, they are sometimes the descendents of multiple landraces that have been bred (either purposefully or accidentally), going back an unknown number of generations — and with possibly very different characteristics. Also, genetic mutations easily emerge, especially under different growing conditions, which can cause great stress to mature plants.

For decades, strains have been bred to bring out their potency, especially in terms of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the cannabinoid in the plant that delivers psychoactive effects and is largely responsible for its euphoria — but also is a powerful medicine for dozens of diseases. However, researchers and medical professionals have identified something called the entourage effect that supports the concept of whole flower medicine by observing that cannabinoids and terpenes interact synergistically, in a delicate and nuanced supplementation of the human body’s endocannabinoid system.

The good news is that a significant portion of the cannabis breeding community has been focused on creating strains that deliver the greatest medicinal value. Many modern varieties of cannabis are a far cry from the original strains from which they are descended. Just as a modern human living in Kentucky might be a descendant of American founding father Benjamin Franklin while, in most respects, the two humans are very different, cannabis strain crosses often, in reality, feature a morphology (shape and size), growing characteristics, and high type that is very different from their landrace ancestors. Sometimes, crosses and hybrids are more appropriate and therapeutic than landrace strains for particular diseases or ailments.

Understanding Phenotypes and Heirlooms

When seeds from landrace strains are cultivated outside the zone in which they evolved, they produce what geneticists and breeders label phenotypes. Phenotypes are transmogrifications of the plant that result in similar, but different characteristics. This includes morphology, development (such as the length of flowering cycles), and biochemical properties (potency and cannabinoid/terpene profiles). Phenotypes that are direct descendents of landrace strains, with no breeding or crossbreeding, are known as heirlooms.

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In landrace strains grown outside their area of origin, a change occurs in the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of the resinous trichomes found on the female flowers of these heirloom varieties. Because they necessarily receive different light cycles, sometimes artificial light instead of natural, and different soil (not to mention dramatic variances in water, humidity, and nutrition), these strains must modify and adapt to their new environments. This changes the inherent characteristics of these strains, including their medical efficacy and high type.

Because they have evolved over hundreds of thousands or even millions of years, landrace strains are considered to be more “balanced,” with terpene and cannabinoid profiles that are in harmony with the needs of the plant, its environment, and — in theory — the humans and animals living in the region that consumed it. (All mammals have an endocannabinoid system and, therefore, are affected by cannabis in a manner similar to humans.)

Origin of American Cultivation Culture

The cannabis cultivation cultures in Northern California and Hawaii have their genesis in heirloom strains introduced to the United States during the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. The climate in Northern California sometimes closely approximates that of parts of Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountains. Because the central West Coast of the United States is roughly similar in the weather it receives, landrace strains brought back from some regions of Indonesia and the Middle East have traditionally thrived in Northern California. With them, the cannabis culture in the United States has also thrived. Both Hawaii and the entire West Coast have become synonymous with high-quality outdoor grown cannabis — just as Columbia is known for producing some of the world’s best coffee beans.

Patients and lifestyle consumers wishing to expand their cannabis horizons should seek out landrace and heirloom strains in an effort to learn more about the roots of cannabis in not only North America, but throughout the world. Cultivators wanting a change of pace should strive to obtain seeds and clones (cuttings) from heirloom strains in an effort to keep them alive for current and future generations and give patients (and medical professionals, including researchers) additional options for cannabis medicine.

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Classic Landrace Strains

In the past, landrace strains that happened to be sativas were eschewed by gardeners for indicas and crosses that featured shorter flowering periods. This was simply because these varieties were more profitable for commercial cultivators. However, the recent wave of recreational and medical cannabis laws at the state level in the U.S. has spawned markets for special strains, many of which are landrace sativas (such as Durban Poison).

Examples of popular and classic landrace strains include the following:

  • Afghan Kush: A pure indica strain purported to have originated in the Hindu Kush Mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • G13: A landrace from Afghanistan that typically leans toward indica. However, two phenotypes of this strain exist, the second of which is a sativa.
  • Durban Poison: An unusually potent sativa from the South African port city of Durban. Click here to read an expert review of this strain.
  • Acapulco Gold: The infamous landrace sativa that hails from the Acapulco region of Southwest Mexico and typically features high levels of THC.
  • Northern Lights: A legendary indica, this highly inbred Afghani is purported to hail from British Columbia.
  • Rooibaard: A sativa from the coastal area of the Transkei region of South Africa.
  • Colombian Gold: The fabled cannabis hybrid that is sometimes a bit sativa-dom that originates in the Santa Marta mountains of Colombia in Central America.
  • Hawaiian: A sativa-dom hybrid from the islands of Hawaii.
  • Malawi Gold: A pure sativa is from the Salima region of Malawi in Southeast Africa.
  • Thai: A sativa from, as its name implies, Thailand. Hybrids derived from Thai include Fruity Thai and Juicy Fruit Thai.
  • Panama Red: This sativa from Panama became popular in the late 1960s, during the hippy psychedelic era.
  • Punto Rojo: A sativa from Columbia that is considered by some to be even better than Colombian Gold.
California Regulates Medical Cannabis

California Regulates Medical Cannabis

After nearly 19 years of relatively unregulated legal medical marijuana, California’s governor Jerry Brown on October 9 signed new legislation that specifies grow limits and other provisions.

Since Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, became law in 1996 — the first modern era medical cannabis legislation to be passed in the U.S. — the Golden State’s cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and patients have been relatively liberated, but also mired in legal and regulatory ambiguity.

The legislation signed by Brown was passed by the California Legislature in September and is quite comprehensive. It creates detailed oversight of what has become a multi-billion dollar industry, even if one considers only the 39 million residents of this celebrated West Coast state. The law details:

“…virtually every aspect of the business in California — from licensing and taxation to quality control, shipping, packaging, and pesticide standards.”

Some experts claim California currently sports about 4,000 cannabis dispensaries, with one source claiming 2,500 in January 2011. One of the biggest problems for the past almost two decades has been a lack of uniformity between counties and municipalities when it comes to the regulation of medical cannabis cultivation and sales. This has been confusing and frustrating for not only dispensary customers and the businesses that serve them, but also law enforcement and prosecutors. Now that the legislature in Sacramento has finally acted, much of this disparity in regulations between different areas of California should gradually disappear.

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After signing the legislation, Brown told the media that the new rules will help ensure that patients have access to medical cannabis while also satisfying the need for government oversight through standardization, accountability, and reporting. The law, which includes a detailed tracking system, according to Brown:

“…sends a clear and certain signal to our federal counterparts that California is implementing robust controls not only on paper, but in practice.”

One Act of Three Bills

California’s new medical cannabis law is actually comprised of three separate pieces of legislation: Assembly Bills 266 and 243 and Senate Bill 643. Collectively labeled the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), these laws synergize to create a regulatory structure with oversight for state and local licensing, taxation, and commercial medical cannabis cultivation — as well as manufacturing, distribution, transportation, testing, and even sales of cannabis and cannabis products. It’s a system that could easily be applied to recreational sales if the state’s ballot measure passes in November 2016.

Unfortunately, the licensing segment of this act won’t be ready for prime time until roughly January 2018. When available, business applicants must choose from 17 types of annual businesses licenses, including those for indoor and outdoor cultivation facilities, processors/manufacturers, testing labs, and dispensaries. This progressive legislation even recognizes what is, for most states, a new class of business license: Distributors.

Distributors Recognized

Cannabis distributors are defined by the state of California as licensed parties responsible for all secure transport of medicinal cannabis between cannabis-related businesses. The law literally overnight creates a new niche industry that will eventually employ thousands of hard working, tax-paying Californians and undoubtedly improve the economy by decreasing unemployment and increasing tax revenues.

Despite some routine controversy and political maneuvering, the new act goes a long way toward protecting businesses and employees from criminal law and asset forfeiture — as long as they comply with the regulations. For those willing to play within the system and accept a law that, like all legislation, is a compromise intended to satisfy both conservative and progressive lobbyists and voters, the business of medical cannabis is definitely improving in California.

Environmentalists and Patients Happy

One of the biggest debates in California, even among advocates of medical and recreational cannabis, is the environmental impact of large outdoor grows, especially those operated by unscrupulous cartels, organized crime seeking only profit, or sloppy amateurs. State and federal authorities have busted many large outdoor cultivation efforts to find damage to the local landscape, including use of water diverted from local streams and rivers (sometimes sucking them dry and negatively impacting the local ecosystem).

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Under the state’s new regulations, marijuana farms will be required to track and report all water use, including providing the state with documentation regarding the sources of their water. This is a big win for environmentalists and conservationists who have pointed out for years how some rogue farmers in California had been diverting wild streams to propel their profitable pot plants.

Assemblyman Jim Wood, a Democrat from Healdsburg, helped craft part of the legislation that makes environmental concerns a priority, giving California’s nine regional water quality boards the authority to regulate the use of water by cultivators. These boards will also be regulating any chemicals or sediment that are released into the environment by a cultivation facility.

Wood added that, although the new, very detailed regulations will definitely increase operational costs for businesses in the industry, they will also better protect patients. He suggested that the new regs are a good tradeoff, saying:

“There’s a price to pay, and part of that is the regulatory structure that goes along with that.”

Patients and their advocates are also happy because of the testing requirements stipulated by the new laws. Cannabis dispensed to patients will be required to be batch tested for potency, which will likely include cannabinoid and terpene profiles, information that’s critical for understanding medical efficacy and high type and maintaining a sincere, successful dispensary infrastructure. Laboratory testing will also be required for contaminants, such as pesticides and solvent residue from the manufacture of concentrates like BHO.

According to Lauren Vazquez, Deputy Director of Communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“New guidelines for testing and labeling products will ensure patients know what they are getting and that it meets appropriate standards for quality.”

Industry-standard labeling and tamper-resistant security packaging will also be required by California’s medical dispensaries in the future. The combination of thorough and commercial-scale testing with packaging and labeling that helps prevent diversion, theft, and access by children or unauthorized users lends powerful protection to patients pursuing pot — while also helping to keep the feds at bay by illustrating the state’s attention to detail and industry best practices.

In other words, these new laws are, in some respects, California’s way of sending a message to the federal government: “You can stop hassling our medical cannabis patients and businesses now, we finally have it under control.” Unfortunately, the new act will unlikely prevent future raids by the DEA throughout the state.

Deliveries and Plant Tracking

California has been home to a burgeoning cannabis delivery business. Often catering exclusively to medical patients, but sometimes counting recreational consumers among their customers, services like Speed Weed in Los Angeles (which employs 25 drivers and boasts 19,000 enrolled patients), California Cannabis Delivery, also in L.A., and Medithrive Direct and Foggy Daze, both in San Francisco, are using 21st century Web 3.0 tools to establish viable businesses. They are applying bleeding edge mobile app tech and social media know-how to what has been legal in California for nearly a quarter century.

It has been reported that there are more than 2,600 cannabis delivery services nationwide, often serving the customers of an individual dispensary, like how mainstream pharmacies sometimes offer delivery services to their sick or elderly customers who are housebound. This number reflects a 300 percent increase in only three years, with only 877 such businesses on the scene back in 2012.

While the ability of large licensed dispensaries to deliver to their customers is protected under the Compassionate Use Act, municipalities are still allowed to ban delivery — although they cannot ban transport through their area to reach another. Riverside, outside of Los Angeles, is just one of dozens of examples of communities that currently ban cannabis deliveries. Often, municipalities that ban sales also prohibit deliveries within their borders.

California will be joining a slew of other medical cannabis states, such as Maryland and Nevada, that require seed-to-sale tracking. Such tracking involves a potent dose of IT wizardry, database-driven systems, and cloud-synced storage to trace the path and real-time status of a plant from seedling or clone through the vegetative and flowering stages of growth, including drying and curing during harvest. Such systems, employing batch or lot numbers that also tie into a variety of types of lab testing, also track cannabis through processing, packaging, labeling, distribution, and retail sale. This makes any adverse reactions among patients traceable to an exact batch produced by a particular cultivator or processor, enabling determination of root cause and helping ensure safe access.

The Downside

As noted above, no law regarding any industry, especially one as inherently controversial and potentially emotional as cannabis, is without compromise. The MMRSA is no exception. Unfortunately, the act will phase out collectives and cooperatives, forcing them to regroup or become in violation of the new law when enforcement begins for collectives on January 1, 2018. How this will affect decades-old operations like WAMM in Santa Cruz, the nation’s oldest continuously operating medical cannabis collective, remains unknown.

While patients are still permitted to cultivate limited quantities of their own cannabis, the size of grow spaces has been capped. Gardens will be limited to 100 square feet. In addition, registered patients would be prohibited from selling or even donating cannabis to another person (unless they are licensed). An inability to gift cannabis to a friend, especially if grown by oneself, is a harsh penalty in a progressive state like California that has successfully spearheaded many cannabis campaigns and set trends nationwide in terms of the kind herb. Fortunately, this provision of the act is difficult to enforce.

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At the production level, cultivation restrictions will vary according to the type of grow facility; outdoor gardens will be limited to one acre, while indoor cultivators will be prohibited from exceeding a half acre. This will effectively ban large-scale cultivation corporations, like those appearing to serve other states, from entering California (with the exceptions of existing companies).

Local municipalities will enjoy new power and responsibility and will be required to issue a permit to any business that desires to legally operate under the new act within its jurisdiction. In other words, cannabis-related businesses will be required to obtain the blessing of the local government. With so many communities already having banned sales, this permit granting authority may, in some cases, result in businesses being unfairly shut out of particular communities due to competitive forces or a city council populated by elected officials of a prohibitionist mindset. (It is estimated that 70 percent of counties and municipalities in Colorado have banned all marijuana sales.)

While the legislation will prevent certain types of vertical integration, such as a single company owning multiple types of businesses (i.e. cultivation and processing facilities), it will allow limited cross-ownership, including permitting some cultivators to also own and operate one or more dispensaries. Businesses that have been granted the right to currently operate in multiple license categories would be grandfathered exceptions to the new act, guaranteeing them the ability to continue legal operation until 2026. This is a big win for established canna-businesses trying to create brand awareness and expand market share.

Patient Protection and Industry Standards

In addition to better protecting patients with cannabis industry standards like seed-to-sale tracking and real, laboratory-grade testing, California’s new MMRSA will also resolve several areas of ambiguity for the businesses serving them. In addition, police and law enforcement officials will now have a more precise and detailed set of state laws to act as a better determinant of their policies when they are forming their enforcement strategy.

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The creation of a cannabis distribution industry, as well as the encouragement of small business and plentiful market competition, will surely lead to maintaining or improving the quality of cannabis and related products across the board for California’s patients, including improvements to its economy and ecology. The new MMRSA will ensure safe access to cannabis in a more democratic and egalitarian environment. The act will also create a more even playing field for medical cannabis businesses, encouraging powerful competition, one of the regulatory and market factors that has made Colorado a leader in legal herb.

Unfortunately, while the act will not prevent individual municipalities from banning sales or deliveries within their borders, it will allow for the identification and possible prosecution of companies that fail to live up to the state’s new patient-focused and environmentally conscious medical cannabis laws.

Photo credit: infostormer

Italy Considers Cannabis Legalization

Italy Considers Cannabis Legalization

Italy won’t be the first, but it might become the largest European country to legalize the use and possession of marijuana. At the moment, 250 out of the country’s 945 parliament members have signed bill that would legalize cannabis.

Surprisingly, the support comes across the political spectrum. The bill would, for the most part, decriminalize the distribution, production, consumption and sale of cannabis throughout Italy. Anyone over the age of 18 would be authorized to grow as many as five cannabis plants at home. Citizens also would have the option of forming “cannabis social clubs” where they could collectively manage up to 250 plants.

Larger-scale grow productions would be run by a state-controlled monopoly with the issuance of government licenses. Dedicated stores would be authorized to sell cannabis, similar to the cannabis coffee shops in the Netherlands. Outside of personal growth, individuals would be permitted to possess up to 15 grams of dried plant material at home, and carry as much as 5 grams. Medical cannabis patients would be allowed to carry more.

Those who violate the proposed regulations would be subject to fines rather than criminal charges. Additionally, the income from the fines would be dedicated to educational and rehabilitation programs.

Italy passed an anti-drug bill, about 10 years ago, that eliminated the distinction between various substances. Ultimately, that law significantly increased criminal sentences for cannabis and heroin. How did the country change its view of marijuana so quickly? Many industry experts point towards the prohibition model’s global crisis in terms of effectiveness.

In 2014, the London School of Economics released a report to the United Nations, asking it to revisit its approach to cannabis use due to negative outcomes, which include:

“Mass incarceration in the U.S., highly repressive policies in Asia, vast corruption and political destabilization in Afghanistan and West Africa, immense violence in Latin America, an HIV epidemic in Russia, an acute global shortage of pain medication, and the propagation of systematic human-rights abuses around the world.”

Law enforcement authorities from Italy’s National Anti-Mafia Directorate (DNA), an organization currently fighting Europe’s largest drug cartel, agree with this report. The 2005 crackdown seems to have exacerbated the government’s systemic drug problems and overrun the country’s already congested courts and jails.

Perhaps the biggest draw to the proposed legislation is the projected governmental income. According to a DNA report, as much as 3,000 tons of marijuana are sold in Italy on an annual basis. The estimated market value of illegal cannabis alone is $33 billion dollars, and this number is based on the amount of plant matter the organization seized in a year. DNA officials admit this is only a small fraction of the total amount of cannabis in the underground marketplace.

Even with the possible outcomes of helping the country recover from the global recession and reducing the strains on the legal system, supporters of the bill are not sure it will pass this year. Rome Luiss University professor and lobbying expert, Pier Luigi Petrillo stated,

“Our parliament’s recent history teaches that legislations proposed by the parliament without the backing of the government is very rarely approved.”

Prime Minister Renzi has not taken a stance on the issue, and the Vatican, still a powerful political force to the largely Catholic parliament, has also remained silent. Supporters, however, are still hopeful.

Uruguay Defends Cannabis Legalization

Uruguay Defends Cannabis Legalization

Despite repeated pushback from the United Nations, Uruguay is prepared to defend its decision to fully legalize the cultivation and consumption of cannabis. Juan Andres Roballo, president of the nation’s National Drug Board (JND), is eager for the UN to open the discussion regarding national and international legalization.

Representatives for the UN have stated that Uruguay’s direction “is incompatible with what is stipulated in the 1961 Convention.” The landmark agreement outlined clear objectives aimed at limiting the possession, movement, and manufacturing of marijuana to “medical and scientific purposes.”

Roballo announced that Uruguay was forging new territory and that its new policies are likely to be scrutinized by the international community. JND Secretary Milton Romani stated that a history of stringent anti-drug laws has harmed rather than helped the country. He went on to say that regulation would work toward:

“…upholding the ultimate goals of these treaties, which explicitly say they seek to improve humankind’s health and well-being.”

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Uruguay is taking the position that cannabis regulation is a matter of public health, and as such should not be managed through the criminal court system. A press release for the Tabare Vazquez administration declared that:

“[T]he criminalization of use and possession of drugs infringes upon the right to freedom and autonomy.”

Although legalization was initiated in Uruguay over a year ago, the regulations process is moving along slowly. Currently, home growers can cultivate up to six plants with a permit issued from the national Cannabis Regulation and Control Institute (IRCCA). In addition, non-profit cannabis clubs may distribute up to 40 grams of the plant to their members.

The process of selecting and licensing growers and pharmacies is still underway. Despite delays, Romani says that in the international discussion of legalization, Uruguay has “kicked the hornet’s nest.”

Himalaya’s Hash Poverty

Himalaya’s Hash Poverty

There’s irony everywhere you look in the cannabis culture. From Hawaii’s medical legalization that allows small gardens, but prohibits citizens from purchasing seeds or clones, to the judges who sentence inner city youth for minor possession and then go home and smoke up themselves, many characteristics of the pot world are rife with hypocrisy and double standards.

The pot fields of the Himalayan valley in India, situated at a potency-enhancing elevation of 10,000 feet, are no exception. Regarded by many as the homeland for a variety of high-quality indica landrace strains, Himalaya maintains a small cannabis tourism business despite the fact that most villagers who produce the herb remain impoverished.

Most of this poverty is caused by the simple fact that marijuana is officially outlawed in India, and has been since 1985. As a result, the majority of the profits are kept by the distributors, rather than the farmers. These black market operators take not only the cannabis and hash to distribute, but also most of the cash.

Poverty & Top-Shelf Hash

Despite this trade inequality, top-shelf Indian hashish from the region, which is called charas, is highly valued throughout Europe and around the world.

Unlike Colombian fair-trade coffee farmers, no such protections exist for Himalayan villagers cultivating thousands of acres of illegal cannabis destined to become high-priced hash in boutique smoking cafes in Amsterdam, Barcelona, and other canna-friendly regions of Europe.

After it reaches its retail destination, charas sells for 10 times what it fetches within the confines of these small, backward communities where 10 grams of the potent hashish costs as little as $30.

According to one villager,

“In Amsterdam, it’s like a vintage car. Dealers can name their price.”

Paved roads do not exist in these remote villages of the Himalayas, so walking time remains the main measurement for distances. This has made it quite difficult for law enforcement to locate and eradicate the huge fields of marijuana growing in the region. Some of these massive cultivation sites are estimated to be as large as 3,000 acres, often blanketing entire mountains.

Why don’t villagers switch to a different crop or seek employment elsewhere? The work simply isn’t available. Cannabis farming and the production of charas hash are literally the only ways of putting food on the table for thousands of residents within these communities.

Steeped in Tradition

The Himalayan region features a long tradition of cannabis cultivation that dates back to 2,000 BC. Hash production and consumption is highly ingrained in Indian culture; it’s even mentioned in the Hindu scriptures. While some efforts have been made to introduce legal farm crops to the region, most villagers show little interest. This is mostly because such crops produce for farmers income that’s equal to or less than what they receive for cannabis, obviously giving them little or no motivation to become legal farmers of things like sweet peas and beans.

Of course, this needless poverty could be eradicated if cannabis was simply legalized in the country and fair-trade relationships were established with villagers in the region, giving them a larger slice of the pie. This would help remove the criminal elements that are currently grabbing the lion’s share of profits and lift residents of the Himalayan region out their third-world subsistence, vastly improving education, health care, and their overall quality of life.

Just as in other areas of the world, prohibition is penalizing Indian villagers by perpetuating their poverty and handing the spoils of the drug war to outside criminal elements.

[Time Magazine]

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