Himalayan Villages Farm Cannabis

Published on February 4, 2016, By Michael Cheng

Marijuana News

(Source: National Geographic)

Cannabis is illegal in India. But despite the growing concern of raids in the country, Himalayan villages still persist on cultivating the plant out of necessity. Locals rely on the crop for basic financial support, which translates into shelter, food and education.

To avoid the police, farmers have started moving their crops higher into the mountains, where access is limited, and the plants are protected by steep cliffs and unpredictable weather.

Charas Production

(Source: National Geographic)

The type of marijuana that grows in the region is cannabis indica. During harvest season, locals create a special type of concentrated hash called charas. The black resin is a result of accumulated plant residue from the hands of farmers. Gathering the resin into a tiny bar is an intimate and painstaking process- usually taking hours of rubbing against tired, sweaty palms. Around 50 buds of marijuana can produce 10 grams of the unique resin. The high achieved from the hash is heavy on the body and the smoke feels rough, as it enters the lungs.

Since its entry in the market during the 1970s, the demand for the cannabis paste has continued to increase steadily. The drug attracts a wide range of green enthusiasts worldwide, as well as Indians living in urban regions. To cater to the demand, small venues designed solely for smoking charas have started popping up sporadically. These establishments partner with Himalayan farmers to maintain a consistent supply of the product. For the villagers, this way of life will continue to sustain their community for generations to come.

“Himalayan communities are proud and very secretive. Strenuous workers, they live in extreme conditions and often with no alternative career options. Many farmers have never cultivated anything legal in their life. Cultivation, production, use, context—everything is imbued with spirituality and religion,” wrote Maria Tavernini from National Geographic.

Himalayan Cannabis Landscape and Regulation

(Source: National Geographic)

Curbing illegal cannabis cultivation in the country is extremely difficult. Weed in the Indian Himalayas grows abundantly in the wild. It’s common for hikers to stumble upon patches of the crop during outdoor excursions. Most of the villages that rely on cannabis are located in remote sections of the region. The communities are situated on mountains and are only accessible via foot, sometimes taking a few hours to reach from the nearest checkpoint on the ground. Because of this, authorities simply don’t have the time and manpower to regulate cultivation in the area.

“Nearly 400 of the 640 districts in India have cannabis cultivation,” said Romesh Bhattacharji, ex-Narcotics Commissioner of India. “It’s time for the Indian Government to stop being a slave of UN-backed policies: since 1985, cannabis use and cultivation has only proliferated. Prohibition has failed.”Cannabis is illegal in India. But despite the growing concern of raids in the country, Himalayan villages still persist on cultivating the plant out of necessity. Locals rely on the crop for basic financial support, which translates into shelter, food and education.

To avoid the police, farmers have started moving their crops higher into the mountains, where access is limited, and the plants are protected by steep cliffs and unpredictable weather.

This post was originally published on February 4, 2016, it was updated on March 15, 2017.

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