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Legalise controlled cultivation of cannabis in Himachal Pradesh, recommends panel

The committee was formed in the last budget session in April this year by the state government to examine various aspects of legalising cannabis cultivation in the state.
Last Updated : 22 September 2023, 16:48 IST
Last Updated : 22 September 2023, 16:48 IST

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A committee appointed by the Himachal Pradesh government has recommended regulated cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes.

The panel headed by state Revenue Minister Jagat Singh Negi has also urged amendments in the rules to allow cannabis cultivation for the plant’s fibre and its low-intoxicant seeds.

Cannabis cultivation is currently illegal in Himachal Pradesh, unlike neighbouring Uttarakhand where growing the plant under government regulations is allowed. Regulated cultivation is also done in some districts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu tabled the report in the state assembly on Friday.

The committee was formed in the last budget session in April this year by the state government to examine various aspects of legalising cannabis cultivation in the state.

Giving details of the report, Negi said the geographical conditions and climate of Himachal is congenial for the cultivation of cannabis and is grown in the wild in all districts of the state. It is destroyed by enforcement agencies and this unutilised potential can be harnessed for non-addictive use and benefit the farmers.

The minister said that seeds with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, an intoxicant) less than 0.3 per cent could be used for cannabis cultivation for industrial use while cannabis cultivation for medicinal use could be done in a close environment under surveillance.

The members of the committee also held meetings with Panchayati Raj representatives of Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Sirmaur and Solan districts to gather public opinion and there was an overwhelming response in favour of allowing cannabis cultivation with appropriate checks and balances, he said.

The study conducted by the committee revealed that cultivation of industrial hemp has a huge capacity for carbon sequestration (the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide) and its cultivation can be done with the least quantity of fertilisers and chemical insecticides, Negi said.

Cannabis is a diverse plant which can be grown on a large scale and its stem, seeds and leaves can be converted into construction material, cloth, paper, food, furniture, cosmetics, health care and bio-fuel, which would add to the resources of the state.

The committee also visited Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand which are the only states where controlled cultivation of cannabis is legal and sought detailed information from the Centre for Aromatic Plants at Dehradun regarding various technical aspects, state-of-the-art plant nursery and products manufactured from hemp.

The chief minister said the committee would also visit foreign countries where cannabis cultivation is legal to get first-hand information on techniques and other aspects in this regard.

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Published 22 September 2023, 16:48 IST

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