Cannabis crops vs. tree saplings: Activists in India are so against smoking trees that they’re planting them instead

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Activists in Himachal Pradesh, India, are so against smoking trees that they’re planting them instead — while ensuring that the cannabis crops they’re replacing are trashed.

The group has joined forces with police and various other organizations to destroy cannabis plants and plant tree saplings in their place, citing environmental concerns as a reason to cultivate trees over weed.

Protestors gathered in the town of Rampur Bushahr, taking an oath to protect the environment. They were accompanied by several locals.

“We have taken an oath to take care of the saplings planted today,” one participant told DNA India.

Permitting cannabis cultivation in the state has been fraught with controversy, with politicians flip-flopping between potentially allowing the controlled cultivation of the plant and banning it outright.

Although India created a policy over 30 years ago for the cultivation of non-intoxicating (low-THC) cannabis, the legislation and procedures for procurement and cultivation were never established.

Legalizing cannabis, at least in some forms, would place Himachal in the small group of states that have undergone cannabis law reform, including Uttarakhand, where hemp cultivation was made legal in 2018, as well as Madhya Pradesh, where the government announced plans to legalize cultivation in 2019 for medical and industrial purposes — in the latter state, it’s viewed as an environmental asset.

“Hemp is being cultivated in parts of the state, but not as cannabis, but as a medicine. It belongs to cannabis sativa plant species, but is not cannabis,” Madhya Pradesh Minister of Law PC Sharma said during a press conference when the move was announced. “It’ll be used to make cancer medicines. Cloth and bio-plastic can also be manufactured with this.”

As in other Indian states, cannabis containing high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the intoxicating compound in the cannabis plant) remains prohibited in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

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