The unchecked cultivation and distribution of cannabis result in substantial revenue for criminal networks, further complicating law enforcement efforts. While the government’s focus on tackling opium poppy cultivation is undoubtedly essential, it’s equally crucial to address the issue of cannabis cultivation.
By Thangjanganba Luwang
In a recent announcement, the Government of Manipur took a commendable step towards combating drug-related issues in the state. They reconstituted the Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) in response to a communication from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) regarding the ground verification and destruction operations concerning illicit Opium Poppy Cultivation. The move is laudable as it reflects the government’s commitment to tackling the drug menace effectively. However, one glaring omission has left us pondering – why has the government excluded the destruction of cannabis from this initiative?
Cannabis, commonly known as marijuana or weed, is one of the most widely abused illicit substances in India, and Manipur is no exception. Its cultivation and use pose significant health and societal challenges. Cannabis contains psychoactive compounds, primarily THC, which can lead to addiction, cognitive impairment, and mental health disorders, especially in young people. The unchecked cultivation and distribution of cannabis also result in substantial revenue for criminal networks, further complicating law enforcement efforts. While the government’s focus on tackling opium poppy cultivation is undoubtedly essential, it’s equally crucial to address the issue of cannabis cultivation.
Besides the menace of opium, cannabis cultivation has been a persistent problem in Manipur, contributing to various socio-economic issues. Its production and distribution not only fuel the drug trade but also have adverse consequences on public health, leading to addiction and related health problems. Excluding cannabis eradication from the scope of the reconstituted ANTF may inadvertently send the wrong message – that this illicit drug is somehow legal or less harmful or less deserving of attention. Public must note that cultivation of cannabis for medical or recreational use has not been legalized in Manipur.
Moreover, it is noteworthy that the earlier “War on Drugs” campaign initiated by the Government of Manipur had conspicuously omitted addressing cannabis plantations in the hills of Manipur. The State Government had focused primarily on the destruction of poppy plantations but conveniently ignoring illegal cannabis or ganja plantations. There has been no reported destruction of ganja or cannabis plantations in Manipur under this campaign, a fact that can be easily verified.
The government’s decision to exclude cannabis eradication from the ANTF’s purview raises questions about the comprehensiveness of its approach to addressing the drug problem in Manipur. While opium poppy cultivation is undoubtedly a serious concern, it should not overshadow the need to address the cannabis issue effectively.
To tackle the drug problem comprehensively, it is essential for the government to broaden the scope of the ANTF’s responsibilities to include cannabis eradication alongside opium poppy destruction. This inclusive approach would send a strong message that the government is committed to combating all forms of illicit drug production and trafficking.
Moreover, it’s important for the government to consider preventive measures and provide rehabilitation and support services for individuals struggling with drug addiction. Combating the drug menace isn’t solely about destruction but also about addressing the root causes and providing assistance to those affected.
In conclusion, while we applaud the government’s recent efforts to reconstitute the AntiNarcotics Task Force to combat opium poppy cultivation in Manipur, we strongly urge them to consider the inclusion of cannabis eradication in this initiative. A comprehensive approach that includes all forms of illicit drug cultivation and trafficking is the need of the hour. Cannabis is still illegal in Manipur and It’s time to address the cannabis issue with the same urgency and determination as opium poppy cultivation to ensure a drug-free future for Manipur. The missing piece in the fight against illicit drugs cannot be ignored any longer.