The story of Uttarakhand and hemp products

If the stigma around hemp gets eradicated, it could lift the economy of the state.

From Ayurveda to Hindu Gods to Bollywood movies, Indian society has shared a very sacred relationship with cannabis. Cannabis and its derivates were used to make medicines, clothing, and hempcrete. Until 1985, the then government banned the cultivation of this plant under pressure from the American government. 

Currently, according to the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, every state has the individual power to regulate the cultivation of hemp leaves and seeds. The government of Uttarakhand issued a license in July 2018 to promote the cultivation of hemp in the Pauri Garhwal district. Legally, one can acquire a license to grow hemp with THC content up to 0.3%.

The people of Uttarakhand have had a long-standing traditional relationship with hemp. Hemp and its derivatives have been conventionally used for its medicinal and nutritive properties, as well as for its rich source of high-quality fiber. 

Pavitra Joshi, from the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand shares, that the seeds of the hemp plant have been held in high regard for centuries and are put to various everyday uses, like making flavoursome bhang ki chutney, sabzi, and using its oil. Hemp seeds are also used to make bhang ka namak. Apart from these generic uses, people of the hilly areas have also used its fiber-making ropes, weaving hats, and making footwear that enables smooth walking on snowy surfaces. Hemp seeds are also known to be good food for winters providing innate warmth to the body. 

Hemp food – Photo by Tree of Life Seeds from Pexels

What people of the mountains have always been using, with the traditional knowledge, is now backed by technical know-how. Hemp is a multi-beneficial crop where all parts of the plant can be used in one way or the other. Globally, there are more than 30,000 products manufactured from hemp.

While some companies like Pavirta’s Kumaon Khand and Bengaluru-based Indian Hemp and Co. have started selling products like hemp oil and hemp seeds, there is still a long way to go in adoption.

If India can empower the farmers in the Northern hilly states to cultivate this gem of a crop, which is also local, the financial benefits will be enormous for farmers.

The undertone of hemp legalization in Uttarakhand lies in the opportunities of self-employment in the rural areas for the farmers. The economical and ecological boon of the crop could lift the rural economy of the state.

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