The road of the kanwar yatra route in Meerut has cannabis growing in abundance on both sides of it. It ensures that the pilgrims who walk over it can get high during the month-long affair. However, Meerut authorities aren’t too happy about the freely-growing and available ganja.
“It is a wild overgrowth found extensively everywhere. It is impossible to destroy it,” an official said.
For the Kanwarias who walk the path though, the weed is a gift from Lord Shiva. The consumption of this free cannabis increases drastically during the kanwar yatra as Shiv bhakts do not shy away from accepting Bholenath’s generous gift. They use the cannabis after processing it in various forms.
Some Kanwarias say that smoking weed gets them closer to Bhole Baba. Its usage also helps them to cover the long distance on foot.
While for the Kanwarias, the weed is part of the yatra, authorities are in a legal dilemma. According to the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic substances Act, 1985, wild growth of cannabis should be destroyed by state government officials. But according to officials, ganja has grown everywhere, making it hard to destroy.
Meanwhile, the medical fraternity remains divided over the issue. Some cite the steady rise of young patients after kanwar yatra as a negative sign.
Narcotics Commissioner of India, Romesh Bhattacharji, said, “Wild growth of cannabis is found in entire north India, northeastern and southern states. It is so much widespread that law is ineffective in destroying it. Instead I feel, now it should be de-criminalized so that people are not unnecessarily penalized for using it.”
“In a recent research, it has been established that cannabis is 100 times safer than alcohol and also has medicinal properties,” he added.