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Hemp gets on a new high

india Updated: Jul 04, 2009 22:40 IST
Malvika Nanda
Malvika Nanda
Hindustan Times
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It was forced underground after its ban in 1985, but marijuana, or ganja as it’s called locally, never really lost its hold on the popular imagination. But it was never as big as it is today. Of course, we’re only speaking symbolically, for it’s not really the psychotropic substance that’s hot with today’s generation of pot-lovers, but its low potency variant — hemp — and the motif of the marijuana leaf.

You’ll find the marijuana leaf on t-shirts, badges, cigarette cases, wallets, ear studs and other accessories at stores frequented by youth across the city. Posters and t-shirts with messages like ‘A friend with weed is a friend in need’ are also hot property. Equally popular are bags, wallets, cosmetics and other gear made of hemp.

Arjun (name changed on request), a 21-year old college student, has an entire collection of these, plus scarves, belt buckles and car hangings with the leaf either imprinted or embroidered on them. “I don’t even smoke a cigarette, but I like flaunting the leaf because of its psychedelic properties.

Earlier, you only got hemp wallets or marijuana leaf posters in places like McLeodganj or Goa. But now you get them in Delhi as well.”

Arjun’s wrong about one thing though — hemp is not marijuana and smoking it will do nothing for you! But, of course, a lot of people share this misconception.

Footpath vendors at the popular Greater Kailash-1 M Block market will all tell you — “Yeh patte waale stud toh jaldi bik jaate hain (These studs with leaf-motifs sell very fast).” The youngsters buy one half of a pair at a time, but that’s not a problem as the other half is sold out soon enough says Vijay, who sells around a couple of pairs each week.

In Palika Bazaar, ever popular with the young ’uns for t-shirts with popular icons and catchy slogans, pothead slogans and motifs are the rage. I asked the busy salesman at People Tree in Connaught Place if there had been an increase in demand lately. “There has always been a demand for the leaf. When did it ever go out of fashion? We don’t see a significant change these days, but that is also because you get such ‘leafy stuff’ everywhere — from all the fancy stores to Paharganj.”

He’s right — Paharganj is full of ganja print bedcovers, and even UV light posters. Also, if you look hard enough you’ll even find varieties of leaves from across the world, in print of course.

As for hemp beauty and wellness products, all the brands on the ‘nature’ platform have them. Bodyshop has a huge hemp collection — a bodyscrub glove, lip balm, and foot, hand and face creams. The manager of its Select City Walk Mall store says these are his “rolling products” — no pun here — since at least 4-6 pieces from the collection are picked up everyday. “There’s something really cool about using a hemp face wash,” says a guitarist from a popular city band.

Talking about music, every era has its share of ganja, bhaang, dum lagaa, Mary Jane or sweet leaf songs…and Kailash Kher has just finished recording his ode to pot and pot smokers. As yet unreleased, it’s called Gurughantal… So some pot fashion this is!