Lots of travelers are coming to India to try the “bhang”. Let me give you an idea what exactly bhang is and if it is safe or not to try.
Bhang is a cheap intoxicant derived from the leaves of the cannabis plant which is generally smoked and also consumed as a drink in India. Bhang has been consumed in India for ages. Bhang is traditionally consumed on festivals like Mahashivratri and Holi. In fact on festivals like Holi, it has become a tradition to drink Lassi (yogurt based drink) with bhang mixed in it. Bhang is also used as a sleeping aid and an appetizer and is a part of many ayurvedic medicines. Though like most drugs it has been often misused. Bhang golis (balls) are easily available in paan-shops as “bhola” or “munakka”, it is often used as a fun booster but overdose of bhang can be life threatening.
Bhang is not something which is new in society; it has been used for centuries and is culturally ingrained in the culture of India. There is a mythological connection to bhang as well. It is said that Lord Shiva consumed bhang on his wedding day and hence his disciples (worshippers) consume it as well. On the occasion of Holi, it is mixed with sweets such as laddoos, lassi, jalebi, pakoras and thandai to liven the spirits of the people. Few states even have government authorized bhang shops while some have banned it completely but despite the bans it is as easily available.
Bhang is one of the most easily available drugs in India, though not as dangerous as other drugs but can have dire consequences if one gets addicted. There have been a rise in cases of drug abuse where youngsters start with this drug and then proceed to more harder types of drugs hence it is not encouraged. Kids in school and colleges get attracted on the drug due to its availability and get themselves knowingly/unknowingly involved in a mess. These kids start with bhang and ultimately get addicted and then with time move on other dangerous drugs like cocaine, hash or heroine. Also in some late night parties drugs are common and so attract lot of inquisitive youths who are ready to experiment with different things.
Drugs were not common in parties of late but with rise of modern culture, it has become a potential threat among the proactive youth in the country. Rave parties are becoming famous and are attract a lot of celebrities. Also the drug mafia has been spreading its wings rapidly especially in the metropolitan cities. The source of drugs in India is mainly domestic and rest is imported mainly from Afghanistan and is smuggled through the porous Nepal border.
The menace of drugs and its trafficking has grown viciously in last few years. The beautiful coastal state of Goa has become the drug paradise in India with almost every drug type is readily available without any hitch. The drug market in Goa is controlled by Israelis as claimed by the Goa Government and now dominant Russians and Nigerians (recent news) run the show with the support of locals (there has been a crackdown recently by the Goa Government in recent years).
Everyone has their own defined market with no interference in other’s business. A report claims that an average youth from Goa starts abusing drugs at the age of 14 with more readily drugs like ganja or marijuana but later moves on to fatal drugs like heroin, cocaine or LSD. This menace of drug trafficking started in 1970s and has grown ever since.
Not only Goa, drug abuse has escalated vigorously in all tourist spots especially the mountains of North India. Himachal Pradesh has become the capital for drug production. In this state, cannabis is grown in acres of land without any apprehensions. A town named Kasol in Kullu dominates the drug production. The town has around 3000 foreign nationals who run the drug racket. The situation is so grave that other nearby villages has started competing in the trade. This drug haven is run allegedly by Israelis drug gangs and smuggled to metropolitan cities and Goa and even exported. The situation in Kashmir is similar too where drugs continue to ruin thousands of lives.
The most disturbing fact is that the government in many states despite knowing the full details of the situation is still turning a blind eye towards this heinous crime. There are many officials who are not directly involved in this mess but aid the peddlers and patronize them. The Anti-narcotics department despite knowing everything is not really taking any concrete steps to curb the situation. Some say that that they have insiders who might also be involved in drug peddling. If the administration doesn’t take any action, this menace of drug abuse will remain.
If you really wanted to consume some bhang, the best place is from the government approved bhang shops of Varanasi at your own risk. But my recommendation is that you stay away from all drugs completely without any reservation. The last thing you want is to take drugs or get involved in any sort of drug abuse or trafficking. Just say no and stay away.