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Punjab Govt also sells bhang
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 20
It may sound incredible, but it is true. The Punjab Government sells bhang, a narcotic drug prepared from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant also known as cannabis. However, in local parlance, hemp plants are called “sukha”. Hashish, a strong and costly drug, is also prepared from hemp plants.

Next week, the state government’s Excise Department will allocate liquor vends by draw of lots. It will also be allocating a wholesale vend of bhang, a soft drug which is chewed, smoked and drunk for its euphoric effect.

The bhang vend is to be allocated in Hoshiarpur. The Excise Department has fixed Rs 3.10 lakh as the reserve price of the vend this time. Last year, it fetched Rs 3.01 lakh, said a senior official of the department. There is a Delhi-based party which has been taking this vend. “We supply the bhang to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and certain other states in the country”, the bhang vendor told The Tribune on the phone from Delhi.

“We have set up a huge infrastructure, including a cleansing system, to collect bhang from hemp plants in the Hoshiarpur belt and to supply it to MP, Rajasthan and other areas in the country”, he added.

He said it was supplied to certain pharmaceutical companies besides official excise warehouses maintained by the government authorities in Rajasthan and MP. From the warehouses, it is given to vends for sale, it is learnt.

Punjab and Himachal Pradesh are known for the wild growth of hemp plants. Even in City Beautiful, it grows in abundance at various places.

Recently, the Narcotics Control Bureau had destroyed large tracts of hemp plants in Kulu and Manali, areas frequented the most by foreign tourists, who have a great liking for bhang. Criminal cases were also registered against those who were found growing hemp illegally.

In India, bhang, which is otherwise banned in most states, is taken as an intoxicant in many states. During the Holi festival, it is used commonly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other states. Its use is also common during various religious melas in Punjab.

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