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Himachal Pradesh Is Planning To Legalize Cannabis. Here’s Why Other States Should Too!

by Meenal Bhatia

Himachal Pradesh Is Planning To Legalize Cannabis. Here’s Why Other States Should Too!

March 23, 2021

From Himachal Pradesh to Odisha to Kerala, India has varieties of cannabis to choose from.  States like Goa, Himachal Pradesh have been mulling over the legalisation of cannabis that would allow cannabis to be grown legally for medical purposes. Can India cash upon the Billion Dollar industry that cannabis is?

Himachal Pradesh looks to earn Rs. 18,000 crores annually by legalizing the controlled cultivation of cannabis to ease its debt burden that has grown to Rs. 60,500 crores in the Covid-19 pandemic year besides generating job opportunities.

In the budget session last week, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that the state government would consider legalising the controlled cultivation of cannabis after studying its various aspects.

Dhawala had urged the government to legalise the cultivation of cannabis, as it has many uses, including in manufacturing medicines, ropes, slippers and hemp fabric and Uttarakhand had already done so.

“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.”

- Jai Ram Thakur, Himachal Pradesh CM
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Cannabis Industry Around The World

Last year, Pakistan sent ripples through the Internet by approving the industrial use of marijuana and hemp, thereby tapping into the $25b industry. While India has had mythical associations and a history of cannabis use, the industry is still not legalized. Is it time to change this scenario?  

The psychedelic properties of cannabis are no secret. But 2020 has seen a lot of steam with regard to the movement for legalisation of cannabis and experimentation with psychedelics in the medical industry.  Apart from medical marijuana, recreational use of the plant has been a thing around the world, sometimes in shadows but legal in countries like Canada, Netherlands. As per the 2019 stats, Canada has around 190 cannabis growing facilities while its retail sales touched 180 million Canadian dollars.  

In the case of Uruguay, the first country to fully legalise cannabis, it brought changes to the economy. The country saw 4000 new jobs being generated by end of 2019 the world’s hemp with the market valued at US$ 1.7b in 2017.
Similarly, China, the largest producer of hemp contributes to one-third of the world’s hemp, valued at US$1.7b in 2017.  

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The Indian Market

The increasing adoption of cannabis makes it one of the most promising global markets. A report by Grand View Research, Inc. forecasts that the global legal market for cannabis could boost to US$73.6b by 2027. During this period, the compound annual growth rate is anticipated to be 18.1%.
As opposed to this, India’s cannabis industry is supported by a few startups, mainly involved in CBD (non-intoxicating as opposed to THC), yet to make a mark in the global grounds.
 A 2019 study conducted by AIIMS reported that about 7.2 million Indians had consumed cannabis within the past year. According to a UNODC report, the retail price of cannabis in India was US$0.10 per gram, the lowest of any country in the world even though it is illegal in the country. 

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The Indian Law

In 1985, India banned the cultivation of cannabis plant under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. But this Act allows state governments to allow controlled and regulated cultivation of hemp for obtaining its fibre and seed for industrial or horticultural purposes.

In 2018, Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to do so, allowing the cultivation of only those strains of cannabis plant which have a low concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the primary psychoactive constituent of cannabis that produces a high sensation.

Uttar Pradesh followed a similar policy, while Madhya Pradesh and Manipur are reportedly considering it as well.

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