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Uttarakhand authorities have come up with a draft policy proposal to legalise cultivation of hemp plants (cannabis) for industrial, medicinal and scientific purposes.

The proposal was prepared by Uttarakhand Excise Management System after chief minister Harish Rawat last year announced legalising cultivation of hemp plants.

“We have prepared the proposal and submitted to the government,” additional commissioner excise, DV Singh told HT.

A policy would be formulated and presented before the cabinet soon.

Legalising cultivation of hemp plants would also help keep a check on its illegal use as Section 8 of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, prohibits cultivation of cannabis for recreation. Section 14 of the Act allows state government to grow it for generating fibre and seeds.

“Derived fibre and seeds from hemp plants could boost the industrial sector in the state. That is what the government is eyeing,” joint commissioner excise, D S Chauhan said.

The proposal moots developing seeds with 0.3% tetra hydro cannabinol (THC) to be used for research and other business purposes rather than for recreation. Cannabis sativa plants generally contain 3-20% THC.

Officials admitted that developing seeds with low THC would be a challenge and research institutions would be roped in for the purpose.

“If we are able to manufacture seeds with 0.3% THC, only then can this industry boom. Scientific institutions like Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) and Forest Research Institute (FRI) could be considered for this task,” COO of Uttarakhand Bamboo and Fibre Development Board, Sashi Kumar Dutt said.

Low-THC seeds are also likely to be imported from countries like Australia, the US and China for research, officials said.

Currently, only one company in Haridwar is authorised to collect locally grown cannabis for markets in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and it is charged excise duty by the state.

The stalk of its plants are used to prepare shoes, car interiors, geo-textiles, apparel, ropes and also in packaging industry. Its seed is used in manufacturing of oil, flour and even animal feed. In hill states, the seeds are also used in pickles and chutneys. The specie is found extensively in hill state.