In a bid to lessen some of the debt (Rs 60,500 crore) compounded during the economic lull caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh is legalising the cultivation of cannabis in the state. The activity is projected to bring in close to Rs 18,000 crore to the state's coffers.
Cannabis is exploited to make narcotics, but the state has decided to legalise it after almost two years of debate. The move was decided upon in order to boost its economy, but the cultivation would also help in industrial and medical purposes. Neighboring states like Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh have also legalised its cultivation in the past years.
While announcing the decision during the budget session, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said, &ldquoThe 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 the Cannabis.&rdquo
An area of roughly 2,400 acres is taken up by the illicit cultivation of cannabis in Himachal Pradesh. Charas is extracted as resin from a plant called hemp, which is grown in all the districts of the state, except Spiti and Lahaul. After it is grown completely, it is sold at high prices abroad and even at places in India.
Kullu legislator Sunder Singh Thakur said, &ldquoCannabis extract is used in manufacturing medicines for the treatment of cancer and Alzheimer&rsquos. It will generate employment opportunities.&rdquo
It has been estimated that this decision will generate 50,000 job opportunities, ultimately benefiting 2.8 lakh families. Sectors like tourism, mining, transportation had fallen immensely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people lost their jobs. This move will be beneficial for those thousands of people who are unemployed.
Pradeep Chauhan, a retired economic adviser to the state government, said &ldquoThe state is facing a financial crisis. The controlled cultivation of cannabis will boost the economy, as the government aims to earn Rs 18,000 crore.&rdquo