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Pakistan Vows Cannabis Reform by End of Year High Times

Pakistan seems to have succumbed to the growing cannabis legalization wave. This is despite the fact that the world continues to struggle to avoid a pandemic.

During a recent meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Science and Technology, the Pakistan Minister of Science and Technology, Shibli Faraz, specifically discussed not only the worth of the global cannabis market in just a few short years, but also the place of Pakistan in it.

The government is also planning to start cultivating hemp for industrial use. Initially such supplies will be imported—but beyond this, greenhouses will be constructed in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Hemp cultivation is legal as well as medical use since September 2020.

Cannabis oil has already been tested in experiments, much like Germany’s. The government approved the use of four cannabis-growing sites. They also plan to tighten control so that such material is not allowed to be exported without strict international controls.

Given the number of irons at work, it’s not surprising that the government will formalize the industry with a legislative framework by year end. 

An Overview of Cannabis History in Pakistan

The government’s recent efforts to legalize cannabis and establish an industry around it is clearly influenced by global reforms. However, the long-standing history of cannabis usage in Pakistan (and India) can be seen.

Hashish can be consumed both in a smoked (charas), or liquid (bhang) form.

Due to the pressure of Ronald Reagan, then-U.S. president, drug laws, including those relating to cannabis were enacted in 1980s. Ever since then, until the new legalization and reform wave of the last decade, the country’s politicians have not changed their stance.

The legalization of marijuana is not in line with Muslim belief, some even suggesting it as falsely. This may be because cannabis use is documented in ancient and modern Hindu texts. In fact, the Sufi religion still uses cannabis as a form of worship. It is believed that the use of this drug provides both relaxation, and an opening to the mind. 

During the 1960s and 1970s, the country was a must-stop on the Hippie Highway—including the hashish market in Peshawar. Many of today’s most well-known strains are derived from this region. Hindu Kush, for example.

This region of the world is home to cannabis that has an extremely distinctive purple-grey color. It can also grow up to an extraordinary height.

India, however, is not far behind Pakistan in formalizing their cannabis market.

Why is this development so fascinating?

Pakistan has landrace cannabis strains. These are cannabis plants that grow naturally in nature. This means the strains that are stable tend to be stronger. This also indicates that such cannabis plants may have unique characteristics which could contribute to scientific research about marijuana as the reform movement continues around the globe.

In fact, Pakistan could be a lucrative export market just for seeds. In fact, export seeds are on the horizon and will first be made near Rawat.

Beyond this of course, there are multiple ways that the cannabis plant can be used—and it is clear that Pakistan is looking at many of them. 

Cannabis can be a very sustainable crop, even if it’s not native to a region. Cannabis is becoming a key crop in the development of both emerging and developed economies.