Imphal Review of Arts and Politics

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Why are Drugs Users a Foil for Social Ills in Manipur? A Reconsideration

Regarding the prohibition on marijuana, important questions need to be asked and the replies properly thought over and digested for an understanding of the issue, for anti-drugs crusaders in Manipur are overstepping limits prescribed even by law, in abusing the rights and freedom of marijuana smokers. And the pertinent question is, can anyone reply why they think marijuana should remain a banned drug, or why at all they think marijuana is listed as a banned item? The recent incident at Koubru where some overzealous, as they always are, men from a group named Realize Rehabilitation Centre forcibly detained three former drug users and paraded them naked on the main road in broad daylight, has brought out the crudities of Imphal’s civil society organizations, in this case supporters of the rapidly mushrooming drugs rehabilitation centres, to full view for public consumption, not only in Imphal and other places in the state, but also to a larger community outside the state.

Why is marijuana considered something bad which should remain banned? Can any of the anti-drugs groups tell why this ban should remain in place? Does marijuana smoking affect morality? Or, does it affect the health? Or, are smokers generally violent? Or, does it cause family break ups? Or, what negative conditions does it fulfil to become socially unacceptable? It is necessary to ask these questions publicly because marijuana it is seen normally fulfils all casual conditions of social morality, and it is seen in other parts of the world too, marijuana smokers are branded globally as the most forthright supporters of peace in the world, who even stand up against the strongest of establishments like even America. No one has taken a stand against nuclear weapons, or generally all kinds of wars, as the hippies have done in the west, and some iconic figures have lent their name to such struggles and even got killed for it, like Bob Marley for instance.

So one thing is clear that marijuana smokers are very much socially acceptable, and more than just that, are also morally conscientious regarding many of the world’s unsolved problems. The only other reason why  the establishment, in Manipur, India, or elsewhere in the world, targets them for character assassination, could obviously be that they ask uncomfortable questions regarding the way the establishment itself works. In fact the popularity of marijuana smokers is such that the US government has legalized marijuana and it’s a local industry in about one-third of its states at the moment.

In India too we can see that in the higher reaches of the Himalayas, like in Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand etc, the places which were traditionally assigned by the hill communities there to the religious men of India who generally smoke marijuana, has now been taken over by resorts, adventure sports clubs and rich tourists who go there to flaunt their money and spoil the environment extensively. Whereas  such places were pristine, without any pollution and an out of the world experience for the few trekkers who reached there, nowadays the kind of investments the rich have made have ensured that these places are now lost for another 400-500 years at least considering  the environmental pollution caused by roads built to drive these revellers to the top of mountains, since they can’t climb, causing accompanying fallout like piling up of toxic waste on the snow areas which are in fact a storehouse for our future water needs downstream.

It is undeniable that marijuana has a meditative effect and a cooling effect that remains in the air, water and ground where it is growing. Like we can see perfumes indulge men and women sensually and where such persons who like perfume or the perfume itself are present, it is very likely there will be a perfume industry soon there, or at least there will be numerous perfumes available or seen there. In the same way holy men smoking marijuana cause the marijuana plants and other plants to be tended in a natural way causing a profusion of plants which grow more in an ecosystem, which includes man, that is supported by marijuana plants and those who smoke it. For instance we see in rainforests that the cover provided by the tall trees give shelter to the thick undergrowth. Also we could see till most recently there were no livestock except cows reared in the parts of the Himalayas where the marijuana smoking holy men, or sadhus as they are known, were constantly visible. That is not so now after the sadhus were displaced and food habits have also changed in many areas there.

Morally, we see the smell and effect of marijuana is more thought provoking and austere, in the sense that it is associated with sadhus who are properly in control in their sense activities, especially restraint from sex, which is morally the biggest trap for any man. So that’s the kind of message marijuana spreads and there are very less flaws to be found in religious men staying in the Himalayas or elsewhere who smoke marijuana. Marijuana smokers do not indulge in sexually depraved behavior like rape, etc, usually and instances may be less when compared to normal rapes. Marijuana smokers have normal peaceful behavior which they imbibe from marijuana smoking or other smokers; although earlier they may not have been so calm and cool. We can notice that when we feed milk and veg food to carnivores they are not violent on herbivores in closed enclosures even. This is all researched matter in zoos, parks etc, and man also has this tendency to become calm and cool when in touch with marijuana.

Marijuana also has immense medicinal value. Epilepsy attacks can be treated with marijuana, it is known. There’s the case of a little Irish girl Ava, who has Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that causes multiple seizures a day, which can be fatal if they are not controlled. Her parents are reimbursed 9500 pounds by the government every three months for the medication, medicinal marijuana, which needs to be stocked up for the child every 3 months. Why do the anti-marijuana agencies and the government in India and especially a marijuana growing state like Manipur not open their minds to such possibilities of research and treatment, instead of being orthodox in this matter, as also in any other matter important in the state?

Marijuana has a mystical and medicinal relationship with Indians and has been here for centuries as part of our festivities and culture like Holi, Shivratri, Sikh festival Hola Mohalla and others. The government is supposed to have banned it in 1986 under pressure from the medicinal lobby in the US, and there are stringent laws now against sale, production and transportation of the item, though there was no such thing before 1986. The government is losing crores of rupees due to this and also there is no reduction in the production or sale with the international drug cartel getting all this money that actually belongs to the state. Why is the government making a hue and cry over it though marijuana is not harmful in any way? And then since 1986, even the US government has legalized marijuana in many of its states and people now grow, process, sell and smoke freely in these states. So the NDPS Act in India is actually redundant now in light of these changes over the years. In fact the police itself has become a conduit in bringing smokers to these notorious private drug rehabilitation centers for a sum of money provided by the families to physically transfer smokers by force to these centers. This is certainly questionable to say the least.

It is noticeable that a tag of immorality or violence is unnecessarily put on marijuana smokers by groups like meira paibis and the drug rehabilitation centers in Manipur. Women are only playing the victim card to get an upper hand over husbands who take intoxication in Manipur. It is neither a social welfare work, nor does it have any element of compassion, but is only meant to feed the ego of these women’s groups and individuals. If male psychology is a vastly studied subject with these groups, rehab centers, and health experts, one must say the female mind too needs to be studied minutely for all the hidden affectations which are condoned by society in the name of females being a weaker sex. This is a modern day necessity where females are flying all-women crew jets and competing with men in all fields. I’m sure psychologists hardly know anything in depth about the female mind apart from their common day to day matters. It’s necessary to strip the mind bare if women are to level up with men, which status women like meira paibis and others are very vehement in demanding. If we have to have women designations in every field, we also need to know about women as criminals or else potential perpetrators of crime. We can’t just target a few Muslim women peddlers for petty crimes; the majority women also should not be allowed to hide behind the façade of a depraved social sanction to them that has ruined Manipur. Women trigger too many complicated problems, in the case of marijuana also.

The government certainly needs to initiate a proper forum where instead of self-promoted half-baked self-education, the government provides sensitization on the character of the drug, of which some facts are explained above, the character of the women against it, and the character of the men who smoke marijuana. We cannot have lop-sided unilateral kangaroo courts like meira paibis, as their activities do not belong under the purview of the law. No woman meira paibi has the right to accost a man who may come drunk or intoxicated on marijuana in the evening. This amounts to physical assault or threat of physical assault. Meira paibis cannot spread this fear; it’s abnormal. And so is the work of other drug rehabilitation centers and vigilantes like in the recent Koubru case. Meira paibis and residential drugs rehabilitation centers need to be banned in Manipur as a step towards resolving the issue of such people committing severe social crimes in Manipur in the name of a self-styled law which only they are part of. And the NDPS Act too needs a review or abolishment since it does not consider the fact that people in marijuana growing states are used to marijuana growing in their backyard from the moment they are born. The law is not considering these facts of practical day to day life of such people for whom the plant is an incentive from nature. And finally, these marijuana plants can never be totally removed and the government shouldn’t be foolish enough to propose this also, because no scientist or drugs psychologist knows till now how much of the environment is dependent on the survival of this single plant, or for that matter any other plant also. It is a god given plant and who knows it may be the single most important plant in the ecosystem. No one knows for sure; science is not a fully known or proven subject, and neither is it expected to be considering the vastness of things happening in this universe.

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