How to preserve the Indian way of growing cannabis

Kanchipuram, often referred to as the ‘Silk City’, is a testament to India’s rich heritage.

Here, artisans have preserved age-old techniques that make Kanchipuram sarees unique.

The material, pure mulberry silk, is sourced directly from the farms, ensuring its authenticity.

The motifs, inspired by temples, palaces, and nature, are intricately woven, each telling a story of its own.

The traditional handlooms, devoid of modern machinery, require skill and patience, making each saree a labor of love.

This dedication to preserving authenticity and tradition is what sets Kanchipuram apart.

Similarly, in the verdant valleys of the Himalayas, another tradition beckons.


For centuries, this plant has been intertwined with our culture.

Its seeds have nourished us, its fibers have clothed us, and its medicinal properties have healed us.

Traditional practices involve using organic farming methods, without the interference of modern chemicals.

The knowledge of when to sow and when to harvest, passed down through generations, ensures the best yield.

The art of turning hemp fibers into durable fabrics, using age-old weaving techniques, is still alive in some remote villages.

Yet, this rich tradition is at risk.

While the world is rediscovering hemp, we are on the verge of forgetting our own legacy.

How do we do it?

If there’s one thought that keeps me awake at 3 a.m., it’s this: how to balance India’s hemp traditions with India’s aspirations to be a hemp economy?

In this post, I hope to share some of my thoughts. 


Table Of Contents

Through the course of this article, you will learn the following things:

  • Cannabis Cultivation In India
  • Why Bother About Preserving India’s Cannabis Cultivation Traditions
  • What Can We Do To Preserve India’s Cannabis Cultivation Traditions
  • India’s Cannabis Cultivation: Keep This In Mind

And now, let us learn about India’s cannabis cultivation traditions.


Cannabis Cultivation In India: In 10 Points

India’s relationship with cannabis is ancient, dating back to 2000 BCE. This isn’t just a plant to us; it’s a part of our culture.

  1. Across our vast nation, cannabis finds diverse homes.
  1. In Punjab, the well-irrigated plains provide fertile ground, allowing the plant to flourish.
  1. Move north to Himachal Pradesh, and the hilly terrains offer a different, yet equally nurturing environment.
  1. But it’s in Uttarakhand where the wild cannabis truly stands out, growing freely, untouched by modern interventions.
  1. India’s biodiversity is reflected in the cannabis strains we cultivate: the tall and slender 
  1. Cannabis sativa, the bushy Cannabis indica, and the cold-resistant Cannabis ruderalis.
  1. Each strain, with its distinct properties, is a testament to our nation’s diverse ecology.
  1. When it comes to cultivation, many Indian farmers hold onto traditional methods passed down through generations.
  1. They prefer organic materials, understanding the long-term benefits of keeping the soil free from synthetic chemicals.
  1. Harvesting isn’t mechanized; it’s personal. Each bud is handpicked, ensuring its quality and preserving its essence.

This dedication to tradition, combined with a deep understanding of the plant, positions India uniquely in the global cannabis landscape.

Our challenge now is to harness this knowledge, respect our traditions, and pave the way for sustainable and informed cannabis cultivation.

Preserving India’s Cannabis Cultivation Traditions: Why Bother?

  1. Cultural Heritage And Identity: Cannabis cultivation is immovably linked to Indian culture. It is a key ingredient in the religious drink thandai

It was one of the pillars of Ayurvedic medicine. It occupies a pedestal in the Hindu religion. 

Not preserving the cannabis cultivation traditions would lead to a loss of culture. That is something that no one wants.

  1. Traditional Medicinal Use: The cannabis plant has treated ailments in patients for centuries. It was used in India long before Western medicine came full circle. 

Western scientists are only just discovering what India has known for centuries. More than one scholar has considered using the Vedas as a roadmap for their research. 

Preserving Indian cannabis cultivation traditions could help light the way for future research.

  1. Rural Economies: Cannabis cultivation traditions are what have allowed marginalized communities to prosper. 

From the mountains of the north to the plains of the east, many rural communities rely on cannabis. 

You need to look no further than yours truly, Ukhi — The Hemp Foundation. In the hilly state of Uttarakhand, we at Ukhi are a major producer of hemp products, including paper, fabric, and textiles.

Ukhi‘s hemp is exclusively produced by the womenfolk of the rural tribes that live in the area. 

Seeing how the menfolk have left the village in search of work in the “big cities”, this is their main income source. 

  1. Sustainable Livelihoods: the environmental benefits are too significant to omit. Cannabis cultivation traditions, as they currently stand, are very sustainable. 

Hemp paper can revolutionize the paper industry by reducing its dependency on trees. 

Hemp paper is also indistinguishable from regular office-grade paper.  Even hemp stalks have found use as a versatile building material. 

And of course, hemp seeds are all the rage right now, designated a superfood. 

All hemp products actually offset environmental damage because cannabis is a phytoremediation plant. 

This means that not only does it have a minimal impact, but it absorbs heavy metals from the soil.

  1. Natural Biodiversity: The cannabis plant grows far and wide in India. As such, each localized area has its own variant of the cannabis plant

For example, one can easily differentiate between Shillong and Kashmiri cannabis plants

If we forsake cannabis cultivation traditions for modern practices, we lose that diversity.

Eventually, this would lead to the local varieties dying out. Add on the fact that each cannabis strain is a vital reservoir for current cannabis research. 

Preserving cannabis cultivation traditions protects our fauna diversity. 

  1. Indigenous Knowledge Preservation: Indigenous people have vast knowledge of their local ecosystems. 

Preserving cannabis cultivation traditions would safeguard a lot of this knowledge. 

This would translate directly to better agricultural practices and better research. In India where the tribes are getting alienated from the urban folk, it could also serve as a bridge.

  1. Economic Diversification: Hemp grows anywhere. People have grown it in the icy Himalayas. Just the same, they have grown it in the sweltering plains. 

In areas with limited agricultural prospects, we can be sure that hemp plants will take off. 

Add on our passed-down cannabis cultivation traditions, and it is sure to be a success. 

By preserving our cannabis cultivation traditions, we encourage economic diversification and increase stability.

  1. Ease Of Use: The primary benefit of preserving cannabis cultivation traditions. The traditional farmers who cultivate cannabis are very simple folk. 

They don’t have a college education. They do not have fancy gizmos to measure things like humidity and residues. 

They might not have any reliable measuring system for THC levels. Yet, they produce the best quality cannabis products you’ll ever come across. 

The secret is very simple: age-old cannabis cultivation traditions just work. 


Preserving India’s Cannabis Cultivation Traditions: What Can We Do?

1. Learn and Share

Gathering Stories

Let’s start by collecting all the tales and methods of our traditional cannabis farming. It’s like gathering family recipes, but for farming.

Joining Hands

Why not team up with schools and local groups? Together, we can host workshops that mix age-old wisdom with today’s know-how.

Local Celebrations

How about village fairs or community talks? A chance for everyone to see and appreciate the deep roots of cannabis in our culture.

2. Speak Up and Make Changes

Changing the Rules

Our current laws don’t always support our traditional farmers. It’s time to speak up and ask for changes that do.

Clearing Misunderstandings

Not all cannabis is the same. Let’s help people understand the difference and why it matters.

Helping Shoppers Choose

When people buy, they should know if they’re getting products from our traditional farms. Let’s make that easy for them.

3. Supporting Our Farmers

A Helping Hand from the Government

Our farmers could do wonders with a bit of support, like some financial help or training sessions.

Farmers Together

Imagine if all our farmers came together, shared tools, and traded secrets. Like a big family looking out for each other.

More Than Just Farming

Our farmers have so much potential. With a little training, they can turn their crops into a range of products, not just sell them as they are.

4. Embrace Today’s Tools

Old Meets New

Modern tools can be friends, not foes. Let’s find ways they can help our traditional methods, not replace them.

Teaching and Learning

Let’s give our farmers the latest knowledge. From understanding the weather to using new tools, there’s so much we can share.

Promise of Quality

When someone buys a product, they should feel confident about its quality. Let’s make sure of that.

5. Reaching Out and Growing Together:

Learning from Neighbors

Other countries have their own cannabis stories. Let’s share, learn, and grow together.

Telling Our Story

The world should hear about our traditions. Let’s take our story to the global stage.

Guiding Choices

People everywhere can help keep our traditions alive. By choosing our products, they’re voting for our traditions to continue.

India’s Cannabis Cultivation: Keep This In Mind

Cannabis cultivation traditions, as they currently stand, are a stable income source. They must be preserved at all costs. 

Sure, there may be a more efficient way of cannabis cultivation. Sure, there is new technology that would increase profits and reduce costs. 

Sure, new research shows that certain cannabis cultivation traditions do not maximize yield.

Of course, there are fancy gadgets that assist in determining moisture, residue, etc. You can be damned sure, new cannabis cultivation techniques make the process quicker. 

But what about those who have no access to any of those things? Those who have naught but their cannabis cultivation traditions?

Those who, quite frankly, do a better job without all that? Thus we end our case by trying to preserve our cannabis cultivation traditions.

Food for thought.