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Ganja Trade Keeps Tribals On A High

on 2001/2/12 8:49:02 ( 1439 reads )


PALAKKAD, INDIA, February 6, 2001: You can't miss the sign, "Sale, purchase or possession of all intoxicants is punishable." A reminder of good intentions gone awry. For the air in Attapadi, the largest tribal block in South India, is full of the scent of poppy, ganja and hooch, a trade the locals have perfected. The Karumber, the wealthiest of the tribals that include the Irullar, Mudugar and Valayars, no longer rely on government support to get by. Their thriving ganja (marijuana) cultivation in the thick forest takes care of all their needs. Despite the unlawful trade, the tribals continue to live in huts, away from civilization. It is outsiders who pocket the profits. They provide all the raw materials then return for the goods at harvest time. The tribals get a fixed commission, but even this small profit that trickles down is enough. The ganja brings in US$21.74 a kilo. (In the USA, a kilo could bring $2,150, not to mention eight years in jail and a $10,000 fine.) A plant matures in six months and in three years a maximum of 20 kg of leaves can be picked, bringing around $434.78 from one plant. The profits are mostly spent on liquor. Ironically, the main suppliers of hooch -- cheap liquor -- are the outsiders who trade in ganja. They ensure a continuing supply to the tribals.

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