Disclaimer: This post does not promote the use of cannabis for recreational purposes (in smokable or eatable or drinkable or vaping form) in any way. The aim of this post is to educate and empower people about the cannabis economy’s three aspects – recreational, medicinal and industrial. Using cannabis’ flowers or buds directly for recreational purposes and cultivating the cannabis plant by any individual is illegal in India as per the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropics Act, 1985. I encourage everyone to read the Act once in full for the sake of intellectual curiosity and also to understand the type of language being used in legal affairs. Trust me, it will help a lot for your career and future. It will make you think in different ways. I believe every cannabis user in India should be able to think for themselves and have an original, informed, in-depth opinion about everything going on in our modern world, rather than absorb the shallow views and opinions of mainstream media that seeks to make our attention spans short.
However that being said, this unregulated economy continues to function (because economics 101-where there’s supply, there’s demand) and there’s a general lack of awareness among people about certain aspects of it. My objective is to help Indian cannabis users look at the world objectively. Why? Because cannabis has given me some of the my best moments of intellect, joy, friendship and oneness of community that I have never been able to manage anywhere else. And as the cannabis economy opens up slowly and steadily, I wish to make an impact in this scene. This plant has the potential to bring people together to build great things; exactly like religion, exactly like culture, exactly like ideology.
Lastly, many people have told me that ‘Ganja’ sounds ‘degrading’ or ‘not classy enough’ because of its Hindi roots (from where the British made enslaved Hindi-speaking Indians load up themselves onto ships bound to the west; the ones who got the word to Jamaica; therefore it stands to reason that the Jamaicans – especially with the one Bob Marley song in particular – are the cause of one of Hindi and Sanskrit language’s legacies around the world), but I, readers, want to tell them that the choice of labelling is theirs, the crux and emotion in living up to the qualities possessed by the plant, is ours. Let’s start today’s post. While the question may need a more specific answer, I believe this post will be useful to a lot of readers looking for a place to start understanding the lens behind the role of free market economics, public policy and healthcare; in shaping the conversation around Ganja all over the world in its modern avatar.
As far as my knowledge is concerned, I think the time period between 2014 to 2016 was one of the best times to be a recreational cannabis user in Bangalore. This is so because the market was full of reputable, reliable sellers who went to great lengths to make sure that their customers got access to the right cannabis – freshly harvested, bargained for and sold exactly like other fruits and vegetables in the market. Overall it has not been a very good 3 years; and this entire timeline of events that leads to today’s modern pandemic situation began at the end of 2018.
Adil from Hebbal in Bangalore claims that things started going downhill, with major crackdowns commencing in 2018 extending all the way till the year end, ending in 2019 to some extent, and then of course starting again in the months of August, September and October of 2020, when Sushant Singh Rajput’s death hogged all sorts of headlines about the drugs being used among India’s film fraternity. The raids, have and will never have the effect the government desires – a reduction in usage of recreational cannabis. The government knows about it. After all, how can they not when the plant in question grows so abundantly and has been used for the last two thousand years and more for medicinal, spiritual, recreational and other applications. Ironically this same approach is causing lakhs of suffering chronic patients who are left without a quality safe, effective, natural medicine.
Cannabis use has been going on for more than 2000 years in India, and come what may, it is not going to end. When we take away a natural product that has demand and history of thousands of years behind it and when its sellers and users are restricted access to the legal market to meet each other; by issuing jail times, fines or stigma; we empower shady people to adulterate the quality of supply and create another market for riskier access to harder drugs; worsening the relative health of our population and also pushing potential legal finance underground. India’s cities are live examples of this phenomenon. If we legalize the supply of cannabis, increase its compliance costs in terms of specifying quality and testing standards, convince professionals and customers to evaluate them, then we create a good experience of having built something meaningful for everyone. A natural, useful plant would be accessible to people who need it as medicine, recreation, a food source in a safe, effective way.
The sudden police force being adopted (and covered by the media in tandem to possibly amplify the force in people’s minds) in light of the drug cases among film celebrities with regards to cannabis has come to an end in Bangalore. Yet, sellers are in no mood to reduce prices and have now cited the current pandemic lockdown for it. The average prices are likely to be at around 60-100 rupees a gram or more, depending on the seller. The pre-corona average prices till the January of 2020 were at 30 rupees a gram of cannabis. Of course, our methodology of arriving at the average current price of 60-100 rupees a gram has been arrived at by just asking a few of our newsletter subscribers to mention what their seller is quoting currently. Sellers – facing risks on the supply-distribution side from the police, are still intent to keep the prices high. An unintended consequence of this has been the proliferation of adulterated cannabis which has seen its best ever year in 2020-2021 in terms of sales as per some cannabis sellers operating in the Bangalore market.
“Its become pathetic. I’m paying almost double or triple or sometimes even ten times the market amount for poorer quality as compared to how it was two or three years ago, when good quality marijuana was more easily obtainable. All my sources have either got caught or changed their numbers, only communicating their new numbers to a select inner circle. I doubt the crackdowns will have any effect. Most of the times, the cops squeeze out as much money as they can and end up distributing the product back into the market at an inflated cost. Its unbelievable, really. But that’s how the market has become now, unfortunately, no one can trust anyone” said an old timer of the trade since the past seventeen years, selling marijuana in Hyderabad and Bangalore (Wilson Garden), requesting anonymity.
“You need really good sources, especially at this point of time when quality matters so much, unless you want to smoke the bad quality stuff that is sold on the streets in small packets, which is frankly disgusting to be honest. Its laced with all sorts of horrible things like shoe polish, pesticide sprays and the like, which indicate the marijuana hasn’t been grown or transported properly or both. First question to ask your contact is, to request him or her to divulge the source of the ganja. Just like how our milk’s source can be traced to a cow in an Indian village, sellers should know the same. Very few do though.”
“Secondly, the onus is on consumers to stop smoking the bad quality, brownish, black substance being sold on the streets in the name of marijuana. This plant is Lord Shiva’s legacy for god’s sake. These people selling poison on the streets need to be looked as criminals, not marijuana peddlers. Ideally the best peddlers will always strive to put in all their effort to source the best, green buds and flowers; its about the health of our users after all, how can we harm our customer? Its the same as any other market; we are and want to improve the lives of our customers”
“I educate my customers as much as possible. They must understand what they’re using just like any other consumer product. When we buy biscuits, we trust the packaging quality and the brand logo of the company that is selling the biscuit, safe and assured with the fact that the company has sourced good crops from right farms to make biscuits as per good manufacturing and ISO standards. Same is with cannabis, obviously. I tell all my customers everyday – cannabis must be green and must smell good like any other fruit or vegetable that we judge in the market. If your cannabis looks black and smells weird, trust me please, do not use it. Be sober and do not use it, and wait it out to get the green one”
“If the peddler says MM Hills, Kollegal, Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru, Shivamogga, Nelamangala, Anekal, Malur, Belagavi, Kolar or Bidar, anyone of them, you can be assured the person has the correct credentials. Also note that a lot of marijuana is transported from Karnataka’s neighbouring states – Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu or even Orissa, even the North-east! See, this city is very cosmopolitan and everyone wants to make a quick buck here, its a high after all, selling really is. The mantra is to buy as low as possible, transport it safely and sell as high as possible to a crowd, that’s just waiting for it to arrive into the city”
“The most ideal way would be to take a four-wheeler of your own, or say do a road trip with your friends, head to these places, and scout for farms yourself, preferably with someone who knows the local language. With luck, you’ll find the correct person. If you don’t have the resources or time to travel to these places, spend some time in patiently cultivating relationships with locals you know from your work place or college or institution, and with luck, and time, you’ll definitely find the green, pure marijuana you are looking for. Please stop smoking the black substance. Do it for a few months, and then see what those chemicals will do you. You’ll loose the ability to focus or concentrate”