‚ÄúWait!‚ÄĚ Rumi tells me as he opens the door to his flat. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôd better do this properly.‚ÄĚ
He sets his joint down in an ashtray on the table and runs towards the interior of the unit. Shoes half removed, backpack in one hand, I stand in the doorway, unsure, until Rumi summons me in. We‚Äôre 13 storeys above a part of Mumbai that I didn‚Äôt know had buildings like this ‚Äď where the brushed aluminium appliances match the colour of the suits worn by the English-speaking security guards below. Through the door to my right, I see a kitchen full of appliances that I own in my private fantasies. The wall to the left is decorated with a multi-coloured art installation made of flat panel LEDs. ‚ÄúOh, those?‚ÄĚ Rumi replies. ‚ÄúI picked them up in Hong Kong.‚ÄĚ
In front of me is a plain white display case with wooden shelves. Soon, Rumi tells me, it will be filled with a selection of LPs from his vinyl collection. A keypad with a red digital display sits, mysteriously, on one of the shelves. As I examine the shelf, he presses a remote control button and the solid-looking wooden case cracks open in the middle, revealing another room, windows blacked out, behind it.
What lies beyond those secret doors ‚Äď lights, nutrients, hydroponic equipment and an array of tools of the cannabis trade ‚Äď is emblematic of a new trend that‚Äôs emerging from the farms of Haryana to the terraces of Delhi and the hidden backrooms of Mumbai. Fuelled by a global cannabis boom that‚Äôs resulted
in legalisation in much of North America, enthusiasts here are taking matters into their own hands.
Whether growing marijuana using hydroponics and LED lights, sourcing the high-grade stuff from the dark web or producing extracts and oils at home, India is poised at the edge of a transformation of how we think about weed.
India has a problem with bad weed. Although some of the world‚Äôs most prized cannabis strains have their roots in the Himalayas ‚Äď the potent Indica of the Hindu Kush strain most notable among them ‚Äď quality cannabis is about more than just the seeds from which you start. Male plants, which can ruin the grow by fertilising the THC-producing females, must be carefully weeded away. The female plants must be allowed to flower fully; it is in the final days of the grow that buds take on much of their heft. Once harvested, the plants must be carefully cured and dried in controlled temperature and humidity conditions, and the buds precisely pruned from the stems. This is not the way Indian ganja is typically grown. Time pressure means that fertilised females are typically harvested too soon, dried in the sun, trimmed and packed poorly, inviting potentially dangerous fungal growth.
Yet even when desi ‚Äúlandrace‚ÄĚ varieties, as heritage strains are known, were grown under optimal conditions, they would look little like the hybridised strains common to places where cannabis is legal. In the Sixties, the ‚ÄúGreen Revolution‚ÄĚ unleashed enormous agricultural potential through the popularisation of seeds bred for higher yields and faster growing times. Since then, in backroom operations around the world, a second green revolution has been underway. Cannabis breeders have selected their finest plants and bred them with others that possess desired traits, over time creating strains that grow quickly and produce large quantities of high THC buds.
When the American states of Colorado and Washington legalised the use of recreational cannabis in 2014, the revolution in cannabis genetics was kicked into high gear by the power of capitalism. With Uruguay, Canada and additional American states soon following suit, consumers went from buying whatever weed their dealer offered them to selecting the strain of their choice from dispensary menus that commonly boast dozens of options. This was accompanied by a boom in seed companies, many of them willing to internationally ship a product that‚Äôs easy to conceal and, in the case of India, not specifically prohibited. This is how Rumi sourced the seeds for the sweet-smelling and potent Cinderella 99 strain that grows behind the secret door in his luxurious 13th-storey apartment.
Rumi isn‚Äôt the grower‚Äôs real name. We‚Äôve changed his name ‚Äď and the names of others in this story ‚Äď to protect his identity. There‚Äôs a reason for Rumi‚Äôs stealthy set-up: Cannabis cultivation can carry a penalty of up to ten years‚Äô imprisonment in India. But, standing on the other side of the secret display case, Rumi is unconcerned, guiding me through the tools of his trade. He‚Äôs recently harvested, and we‚Äôre standing among the remains of the grow, plant stems arranged on one wall in a rough mock-up of antelope horns. Racks for lights line the ceiling, and the buckets in which he kept his water, enriched by hydroponic nutrients, are on the floor. Large glass jars are stuffed with freshly harvested cannabis, small silica gel packets nestled among them to aid the drying process.
One wall resembles a trophy case. Three neat lines of shelves contain a Christmas list full of hydroponic grower goodies: The first row is dominated by more than a dozen white bottles with brightly coloured logos and names like ‚ÄúBig Bud‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúBud Candy‚ÄĚ, featuring a cartoonishly absurd cross between a marijuana bud and neon glowing cotton candy. Pieces of LED lighting, ducting, water pumps, gardening tools and a watering can, all sparklingly clean, line another row. On the third, a bulky metal air filter sits below an 8-inch in-line duct fan; unremarkable machinery to most, but envy-inducing to the Indian indoor cannabis grower who knows it isn‚Äôt available domestically.
‚ÄúIf you have money, it isn‚Äôt difficult to find,‚ÄĚ Rumi tells me, as we sit down at his dining table to discuss his grow. All of the growers I meet, Rumi more than most, have significant means at their disposal. Electricity bills can run as high as `30,000 a month, while seeds, lights and hydroponic nutrients will cost tens of thousands more. The whole host of optional imported goodies in Rumi‚Äôs secret room would cost at least another lakh, not including the inevitable customs struggles. Growing high-grade cannabis is a rich person‚Äôs game.
When I tell Rumi that he seems more like a model train hobbyist than a grower, he confesses that he‚Äôs both. But despite all the high-tech gear, his journey to indoor hydroponic growing sounds like that of many others I‚Äôve heard before. Dissatisfied with Indian weed and observing a friend who tested the hydroponic waters, Rumi journeyed deep into YouTube to understand the intricacies of an indoor grow operation. But the final push came when his mom began to suffer from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. ‚ÄúShe‚Äôs a Christian evangelist, so for her doing drugs was very wrong. But she went for it. Because she‚Äôd tried everything and her doctor eventually said, ‚ÄėWhy don‚Äôt you give it a try?‚Äô‚ÄĚ So Rumi turned his cannabis into a refined oil. Since using it, his mother reports less pain and inflammation, an increased appetite and improved well-being, preferring it to the pharmaceutical treatment she‚Äôd previously received.
These days, Rumi‚Äôs biggest concern is making the grow more sustainable. He‚Äôs not interested in becoming a dealer, but produces more than he can smoke. So he‚Äôs beginning to take steps to reduce the cost of his operation, switching over to more efficient lighting technologies and moving from a hydroponic to a soil-based organic growing approach. Eliminating hydroponic nutrients reduces cost, and though soil grows are often slightly less potent than their hydroponic counterparts, they produce more fragrant, terpene-heavy buds.
Operations like Rumi‚Äôs are enabled by a growth in the cannabis ecosystem that goes beyond access to seeds. A boom in cannabis DIY abroad has created access to products that are essential to producing the highest grade: LED lights ‚Äď which can help keep down power bills and temperatures ‚Äď are getting better and cheaper, and can be ordered from China. Hydroponic supplies from water pumps and grow baskets to nutrients can now be purchased from domestic retailers like Growhouse: a Pune-based company that launched after one of its founders, Sharan Sirur, saw a market opportunity to facilitate indoor vegetable growing.
While Sirur recognises that some Growhouse products are used in the cultivation of cannabis, he‚Äôs careful to highlight that many of his customers use hydroponics for the purpose he originally envisioned ‚Äď indoor vegetable cultivation. As for those with other ideas, his message is clear: ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll answer any questions about our products that our customers ask. We don‚Äôt need to know what they‚Äôre growing.‚ÄĚ
In a sign of the rapidly changing times, another consumer-oriented hydroponic supplier has recently emerged: Slimjim, a Mumbai-based smoking accessories brand. The website, which is branded with rasta colours, hazy-eyed animated characters and dub reggae autoplaying in the background, leans into the stoner image that Growhouse avoids.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre always a little anxious,‚ÄĚ says Slimjim Managing Director Kunaal Kapoor. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre just tip-toeing on the line of the law, but we‚Äôre in the clear.‚ÄĚ To make sure it stays that way, Slimjim has segregated seeds from hydroponic equipment, selling the former on Green Cherry, a distinct but linked platform. The company‚Äôs also quickly shut down the occasional customer hitting it up for weed on Instagram, peppered its site with disclaimers and is careful to always talk with customers about their ‚Äútomato‚ÄĚ plants.
If Growhouse targets the hardcore hobbyist, Slimjim seems intended for a smoker with money in his pockets, but no desire to master the intricacies of hydroponic growing. In addition to LED lighting, cannabis seeds and hydroponic nutrients, for those willing to part with `20,000-`75,000 (depending on the size), Slimjim offers slickly designed, Indian-manufactured DIY growboxes, complete with automated drip irrigation, ventilation systems, timed LED lighting, soon-to-be-released app integration and, in what seems like a middle finger to plausible deniability, on-site service contracts.
But for Kapoor, the fact that cultivating cannabis is illegal in India is largely irrelevant. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not placing any bets on the legality,‚ÄĚ he says. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm trying to take my business more international, where it‚Äôs already accepted. That‚Äôs the reason why we‚Äôre automating our grow cabinet, [why we‚Äôre] into hemp body care products and seeds. I don‚Äôt need to sell it in India. It‚Äôs fine. We‚Äôll wait for legalisation to catch up [here].‚ÄĚ
But for many Indian consumers, particularly those of an older generation who often don‚Äôt demand the most potent smoke, the time and cost associated with hydroponics are too great. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt get that esoteric,‚ÄĚ Debashish, a 50-something former marketing executive from Delhi, tells me.
Debashish‚Äôs carefully mussed grey hair, spectacles, goatee, scarf and white kurta give the avuncular impression of exactly the type of Seventies child who‚Äôd be likely to have a few ganja plants growing on his balcony. For Debashish, who‚Äôd stopped smoking cannabis after a youthful flirtation in the late Eighties and early Nineties, growing became largely a matter of necessity. When his hard-drinking corporate life caught up with him in the form of three arterial stents and a rocky marriage, he gave up alcohol and tobacco and returned to greenery. Long removed from the connections that had once provided him with prized strains from Kerala, Manipur and Odisha, he was left an affluent middle-aged man with the inclination to neither haunt Paharganj for cheap sacks of tourist weed, nor smoke that kind of ganja, should he find it. Growing at home, a process he began in 2010, presented him with a relatively safe and clean source.
For Debashish, increased awareness of cannabis in India represents not a departure from traditional values but a return to mean. ‚ÄúThe wonderful thing about India and cannabis,‚ÄĚ he tells me, ‚Äúis that it‚Äôs culturally congruent. I remember buying it from a government store as a teenager.‚ÄĚ Growing up in Kolkata, he says that the smell of ganja smoke was common, and consumption of the plant was far less taboo than that of alcohol or tobacco. Now, that feeling is beginning to return, a shift he credits to social media. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs such bliss,‚ÄĚ he says, ‚Äúhaving a 22-year-old roll you a joint in the middle of Summer House [Caf√©] and say, ‚ÄėSir, bless you old man, may you live long.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Though Debashish currently has six plants grown from desi seeds flourishing in potted soil on his balcony, he‚Äôs made a small concession to modernity: He‚Äôs imported hybridised seeds for his next grow, after making connections on international growers‚Äô groups on Facebook. Because he doesn‚Äôt typically smoke most of the cannabis he grows, he‚Äôs less concerned about producing the most potent product. Instead, he transforms most of it into more concentrated forms of THC, the primary intoxicating compound.
At times, that means kif, commonly but inaccurately referred to as ‚Äúpollen‚ÄĚ in South Asia. Kif is produced by carefully sieving dried cannabis through a fine mesh. As I sit with Debashish, we‚Äôre surrounded by the buckets he uses in the production process. The smallest among them contains the final pale green powdery product, which can be smoked, or combined with butter or oils and used in cooking.
Like most growers, the reformed marketing man is devoted to tinkering, trial and error. Despite his laid-back approach to growing, Debashish has managed to produce a small batch of shatter: a highly concentrated form of THC extract, most commonly produced using pressurised butane as a solvent. Though products like this (euphemistically known as ‚Äúdabs‚ÄĚ), which can be vaped through e-cigarette-like devices, have become extremely popular in North America, they remain almost unheard of in India. Debashish found the process too expensive and labour-intensive to pursue, but the rest of India may be waking up to the notion. Rapper Raftaar‚Äôs recent music video, a testament to the cluelessness of the censor board, celebrates the extract with the chorus ‚ÄúSare dab karo‚ÄĚ.
Debashish doesn‚Äôt sell the oils and concentrates he produces, but he does share with friends. His most popular recipe has been for a high THC extract that he produces by slow-cooking the plant at a low temperature, in pure grain alcohol. As is the case with every grower with whom I spoke, Debashish has seen demand for this product from sources who view it as a medical necessity. He cites a young man who would take this cannabis oil for his sick mother, allowing him to earn for the family instead of staying home caring for her.
Debashish‚Äôs oil also goes to less wholesome purposes. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs in huge demand among film-makers,‚ÄĚ he tells me, before reciting names that could just as easily be a list of candidates for a Best Indian Director award, and producing SMSes to back up his claims. But, he says, ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt want to get stuck becoming the supplier.‚ÄĚ Instead, he‚Äôs offered to go to Mumbai to visit ‚Äúa couple of selected kitchens‚ÄĚ and show them how to make the oil. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs better,‚ÄĚ he tells me, ‚Äúto keep it local.‚ÄĚ
For many consumers who have the means but not the time or desire to grow their own, a nascent market in high-grade cannabis is emerging. For some, that means exploring the dark web. But for those in the know, locally produced high-grade can be sourced, for a price.
Hardik, a 30-something Mumbai resident who works in the entertainment industry, spent much of his early life in North America, where, as a teenager, he would occasionally deal a little weed to his classmates. When he returned to India, the poor quality of ganja available led him to turn to charas, an acceptable, if inferior, alternative. Last year, when a friend began purchasing prohibited substances on the dark web, Hardik saw an opportunity to stock up for festival season, purchasing 30-40 grams of premium cannabis for nearly `35,000 ‚Äď astronomical by the standards of Indian ganja, but only slightly above street value in the parts of the US where the plant remains illegal.
Once he navigated the purchase of bitcoins, Hardik was surprised by ‚Äúhow legit a marketplace it actually is.‚ÄĚ There are reviews, he explains, for each of the sellers. ‚ÄúIf somebody‚Äôs going to sell you bullshit, they‚Äôre labelled as such and you‚Äôre not going to buy from them‚Ä¶ I definitely felt a little bit nervous about it coming to my home address.‚ÄĚ But, as the packages were sent without a return address, Hardik felt he‚Äôd have plausible deniability, were they intercepted. ‚ÄúThere was no direct way to tie me to the package. It was all cool.‚ÄĚ
At first, he says, ‚Äúwe were fucking stoked on it. We were able to have options now. ‚ÄėDo you want to smoke Blue Dream or do you want to smoke Sour Diesel?‚Äô‚ÄĚ Hardik thought he‚Äôd hit upon a winning formula. But when he went for a second round of purchases, and three out of four failed to reach him ‚Äď ‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt have 50 grand sitting around to fucking burn on drugs [that never arrived]‚ÄĚ ‚Äď he returned to charas. Although the marketplace he used has since been shut down, a huge number of alternatives remain active.
While Hardik‚Äôs cannabis budget may strike many as considerable, for those willing to spend even more, secret growhouses dot the country, producing high-quality but exorbitantly priced marijuana for consumers of means and discernment. Thomas, in addition to a few other side hustles in legal industries, is one of this small community of commercial cannabis growers.
Cannabis was never supposed to be a business for Thomas, in his 20s. The trading consultant from an Indian metro (as specific as he‚Äôs willing to get) describes himself as ‚Äúscientifically minded‚ÄĚ and is mostly self-taught, taking online bioengineering courses from MIT and learning how to assemble LED lighting rigs via YouTube. A trip to North America when he was 18 introduced him to a kind of marijuana that had nothing in common with the ganja to which he‚Äôd been accustomed. Sourcing local ganja from around town turned into trips to nearby villages to find the best weed. But soon, ‚Äúgrowing my own weed was the only reasonable option to get shit off-season. And it worked and it worked and it worked.‚ÄĚ Looking to cut down on his plants‚Äô space requirement, he ‚Äústarted ordering seeds from online seedbanks. It was fucking amazing shit.‚ÄĚ
What began as a hobby ‚Äď selecting the best desi plants and growing on a terrace ‚Äď became prohibitively expensive when it evolved into imported lights, nutrients and seeds. An enthusiastic market led Thomas to start selling his product to support the cost of running a cutting-edge grow operation, which would swell to more than 100 plants at a time. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd spend all day on the internet,‚ÄĚ he says, ‚Äúreading more and more about this stuff and applying it.‚ÄĚ He‚Äôs made close friends in the international online cannabis community, but stays away from other Indian growers. ‚ÄúNobody knows,‚ÄĚ he says, ‚Äúhow to keep their mouths shut in this country.‚ÄĚ When friends ask him for grow advice, he has only one suggestion: ‚ÄúRead any good book that tells you how to grow tomatoes. And everywhere it says ‚Äėtomatoes‚Äô, substitute the word ‚Äėmarijuana‚Äô.‚ÄĚ
This consciousness about safety ‚Äď a notably lacking trait in most other growers I spoke with ‚Äď indicates the seriousness with which Thomas takes his business and his security, a seriousness that also extends to significant payments (he won‚Äôt say exactly how much) to senior law enforcement officials. And he‚Äôs stopped selling directly to consumers, taking a pay cut to sell at a wholesale rate to distributors who sell his grow at an ‚Äúatrocious‚ÄĚ price. ‚ÄúI now produce enough to be more concerned about my security than the extra money,‚ÄĚ Thomas says. And though I ask to see the operation what is surely an annoying number of times, going so far as to suggest a blindfolded entry to the building or a secure video chat with him from inside his grow room, Thomas‚Äô reply remains steadfast: ‚ÄúI just can‚Äôt afford it.‚ÄĚ
To understand this, it helps to break down the numbers. Now that Thomas has begun supplying distributors with a kilo at a time, he‚Äôs not sure what the retail value of his product is. But when he
did serve customers, he pushed a zipper, as one ounce (28 grams) of weed is colloquially known, for $750. A little arithmetic brings us to just over `1,800 a gram, or about 900 bucks a joint. When I comment that this is a lot for weed in India, he laughs. ‚ÄúNobody who doesn‚Äôt have money was going to [buy from me], and this wasn‚Äôt Indian weed. People couldn‚Äôt fucking believe it at the time. Anybody who smoked it was just mind-blown.‚ÄĚ
With sums like this at risk, it‚Äôs no surprise when Thomas insists that I‚Äôll have to make do with photos of the grow operation and jars of his OG kush and three self-produced crossbreeds. True to the care with which Thomas treats his operation, his fat, dense buds are redolent with trichomes and long amber pistils, their fragrant terpene bouquets resembling the fruits of their namesakes.
Thomas‚Äô business works because he has a streak of intense obsession about him. He lights up when he realises that we can discuss the benefits of HPS lighting over LEDs, or the role of terpenes in determining the way a strain affects a smoker. This obsession has enabled his success; countless hours on YouTube were his guide when he needed to learn to manage irrigation systems. This trial-and-error, DIY attitude is a universal characteristic of India‚Äôs cannabis pioneers.
I have never drunk alcohol in my life. I have never smoked. I have never done recreational anything‚Ä¶ People come here and they don‚Äôt expect to see me. I don‚Äôt know what you were expecting, but I‚Äôm not that person.‚ÄĚ
This is how my interview with Pratibha begins.
When I enter the gates of her spacious home, somewhere on the outer edges of Delhi, a box marked ‚ÄúGucci Bags‚ÄĚ sits by the door. Through the next door, into the area where Pratibha receives her guests, two neatly manicured poodles burst forth, tails eagerly wagging in greeting. Pratibha‚Äôs quarters resemble nothing less than the mid-century Los Angeles mansions that play home to the eccentric millionaires of Raymond Chandler‚Äôs noir detective stories. Giant Buddhas sit next to Rajasthani cabinets. A Fifties Scandinavian-style egg chair adds an incongruous hint of A Clockwork Orange to the room. A cavalcade of terracotta wind chimes and tiny umbrellas hang from the ceiling. Tibetan mandalas adorn the walls.
In the middle of this tableau, Pratibha‚Äôs bulk is concealed beneath a loose, brightly coloured floral house dress, the magenta of the amaranth in its design echoing the pink frames of her horn-rimmed glasses. A chain of heavy, natural pearls hangs from her neck.
‚ÄúMy parents were typical of the Sixties,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúMy parents, aunts and uncles would all sit around and have a joint.‚ÄĚ When her mother was diagnosed with two stage-four cancers and sent home on palliative care with no more than six months to live, Pratibha became her primary caregiver. Cannabis balm that a friend had brought from Europe helped treat her mother‚Äôs sores, so she turned to YouTube ‚Äď and some well-connected friends with farmland in the North Indian plains ‚Äď and began producing the balm herself. She soon decided that an edible might be even more successful than a topical application.
At first, this created complications. ‚ÄúMy mother refused to take it,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúShe was told she had three to six months, and she didn‚Äôt want to spend it stoned.‚ÄĚ That‚Äôs when Pratibha‚Äôs research led her to cannabidiol, or CBD, a cannabinoid like THC that naturally occurs in marijuana.
Unlike THC, CBD is not an intoxicant. While it may give users a feeling of very mild relaxation, it possesses none of the euphoric properties associated with a THC high. But like THC, it has been associated with a number of medical benefits. Pratibha now provides CBD for patients ‚Äď including pets ‚Äď with autism, arthritis, menopause, cancer and other ailments, but the most robust evidence for its medical application has been in the treatment of some serious forms of epilepsy. This past June, the US Food and Drug Administration approved cannabis-derived Epidiolex ‚Äď the first CBD-based medication to receive such approval ‚Äď after finding that it substantially reduced the occurrence of potentially life-threatening seizures in children.
‚ÄúI‚Äôve never told anyone what I do,‚ÄĚ Pratibha boasts. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all been word of mouth. I‚Äôve been doing this for years and people have been telling me that I‚Äôm weird. Suddenly, it‚Äôs fashionable.‚ÄĚ For Pratibha, producing CBD oil is a testament to her mother‚Äôs memory, and its consumption is an energising wellness boost. In addition to her work as a social entrepreneur, she supplies a growing list of patients with the oil. As I say goodbye, a foreign education professional couple show up at the house. Their mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they‚Äôve heard Pratibha‚Äôs CBD oil might help.
But restricted access to CBD-rich strains means that Pratibha‚Äôs oil is unlikely to contain a particularly high dose of the cannabinoid. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no gold mark for testing,‚ÄĚ she acknowledges. Even in regulated legal economies, CBD and THC testing are notoriously unreliable.
But even without the tests, Pratibha is persuaded. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm in my fifties,‚ÄĚ she tells me, ‚Äúand I feel better than I did 15 years ago. I can do it all.‚ÄĚ What she can‚Äôt do is legally sell her non-intoxicating CBD product. Though not specifically banned, as a cannabis derivative it‚Äôs currently illegal to sell or possess. A glimmer of hope, however, burns at the horizon. She cites rumours that Patanjali is poised to move into the CBD market. Though this remains unconfirmed, the idea opens up a potential avenue for a legal CBD business. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not a fan of his products, but I‚Äôm a fan of the business acumen. If he can push the door open, that would be a gamechanger.‚ÄĚ
I wanted to ask you a few questions about the landraces you‚Äôve come across in your travels.‚ÄĚ
I‚Äôve just started researching Indian high-grade culture when these words appear in my Instagram inbox, presumably guided by hashtags from my recent trip to Himachal. The sender, who goes by J, is a horticulture student from the US. He‚Äôs eager to produce CBD-rich versions of heirloom strains like those found in India, for a seed bank that preserves these strains and uses ‚Äútheir odd chemical compounds, compared to Western cultivars today, to deal with chronic conditions.‚ÄĚ To that end, he‚Äôs hoping I can help him source seeds directly from the Himalayas. Not that it matters ‚Äď and yet, somehow it does ‚Äď but J is an Indian. Or, more properly, a Native American member of the Chippewa Tribe.
The irony of India‚Äôs simultaneous boom in hybridised hydro and CBD products is that cannabis breeders abroad have, through patient trial and error, been breeding CBD out of their plants since long before they knew what CBD was. Because it can partially negate the effects of THC, efforts to produce ever more heady highs have resulted in the unwitting selection of strains that produce less CBD.
Too often, India imitates the successes of the US long after the US has realised they were temporarily disguised failures. For proof, turn to ‚ÄúDisco 84‚ÄĚ or Indus Creed. This time around, there‚Äôs cause for hope. As the rich and connected of India‚Äôs metros discover the recreational applications of high-grade cannabis, a growing consensus is forming that non-intoxicating CBD possesses a wide range of medical applications. And if the pervasive Patanjali rumours are to be believed, a spokesperson with the government‚Äôs ear may be the final push needed to convince India that CBD can be regulated differently from the plant from which it is derived.
However that plays out, and despite recent calls for legalisation by four minority party MPs, Shashi Tharoor among them, Thomas is unlikely to face competition from legal recreational cannabis any time soon. For him, and for others who dive deep into the world of hydroponic growing, the continued prohibition of their favourite herb may not be the curse it seems. Because, hidden behind all the earnest talk of quality bud and fear of prosecution is the sort of unconfessed love for the cloak and dagger that produces a batcave-worthy trick shelf concealing a museum-grade presentation of goodies designed to delight initiates of the secret society of the high grade.
Cannabinoid: A class of compounds, also synthesised in small quantities by the human body, found in cannabis and some other plants. Although THC and CBD are the most talked about, there are over 100 different variants.
CBD: Aka cannabidiol, the second-most talked-about cannabinoid found in marijuana. Though it doesn‚Äôt cause the euphoric high of other cannabinoids, it‚Äôs reported to have a number of medical applications. It is illegal, though often unprosecuted, in most places where marijuana consumption is banned.
HPS Grow Lights: High Pressure Sodium lamps. These high-powered lights remain a favourite among some growers, but are losing out to more efficient LED grow lights.
LED Grow Lights: LED lights that can be tailored to a colour spectrum determined by your growing needs, and are quickly becoming a favourite thanks to their low energy consumption. Mostly produced in China, they can be difficult and expensive to import.
Hydroponic: The process of growing plants using water treated with nutrients as a base instead of soil. Though many growers prefer the rich aroma of plants grown in soil, hydroponic growing allows for effective nutrient delivery that makes it easier to grow fatter and more potent buds.
Nutrients: Known as ‚Äúnutes‚ÄĚ among growers, these are chemical nutrients that are mixed with the water in a hydroponic grow, replacing those normally and naturally found in soil.
Terpene: A hydrocarbon class of fragrance-producing molecules common to cannabis, as well as many spices and fruits. Many growers believe that terpene make-up impacts the effects of each strain of cannabis and breed.
THC: Aka tetrahydrocannabinol, the king of cannabinoids, the master of munchies and the prince of paranoia. Whatever comes to mind when you think of being high on marijuana, THC is the primary culprit.
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