Various Preparations of Cannabis in South Asia

Various Preparations of Cannabis in South Asia

In this article we briefly survey the various traditional kinds of preparations of cannabis that may be found in South Asia; more modern preparations in the form of tinctures and oils are not considered.  Gāñjā/Gañjā  The term gāñjā, which in South Asia first appears in the 16th century (Meulenbeld 1989:66), refers to the buds and flowers of the female cannabis plant. Gāñjā is usually smoked in a clay pipe (cilam/chillum) mixed with tobacco; it is also smoked in emptied-out cigarettes. Smoking a mixture of plants is prescribed in some Āyurvedic treatments, but recreational smoking of tobacco was only introduced into India by the Portuguese around 1600 CE (Indian Tobacco 1960:1). Innovators then mixed cannabis with tobacco.  The cultivation and sale of cannabis without a government license was initially prohibited in the United Provinces in India in 1910 (Hasan 1975:237); in Nepal all licenses were rescinded in July 1973 (Fisher 1975:253). Eventually, by 1986 even simple possession of smokeable cannabis had become illegal in both countries. However, even though gāñjā is currently illegal in most of the states of India (except Orissa), bhāṅg is still technically legal. Prior to criminalization, cannabis was not disapproved of in India to the same degree that alcohol was (Hasan 1975:238).  Bhāṅg  Bhāṅg (Hindi), which is still available from government shops in holy places in north India, is usually made from the pounded, lower leaves of the female (and sometimes male) cannabis plant; preparations occasionally also include the smaller, upper leaves of the more resinous buds (gāñjā), which are more usually smoked. To make bhāṅg the leaves are harvested, dried and then pounded either in a large mortar and pestle or on a stone tablet using a large rolling pin. Water, spices and either milk or yogurt are gradually added to the mashed leaves. After a long period of pounding, which may last an hour or more, the…

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Source : seedman
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