The inaccessible valleys and lofty mountains in the western Himalayas are a happy hunting ground for the cultivation of cannabis and opium. They are the country's biggest drug-producing areas with a considerable quantity of the drugs finding its way to Europe. Police records show that around 50,000 acres of cannabis is under cultivation in Kullu Valley alone. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh admitted that cannabis was widely cultivated in many states, including Himachal Pradesh, and this needs to be curbed by enforcing strict laws. Singh also said that drug abuse is corroding the foundations of society and leading to child abuse as well as sexual and domestic violence.
Singh was speaking at the inaugural address of a three-day judicial conference on drug menace organized by the State Legal Services Authority. Referring to Malana, some 100 km from Manali and known for cultivating 'Malana Cream', a prized hashish that was a purified resinous extract of cannabis in the West, Singh said, "The government is committed to make Malana drug free. Illicit drug business attracts criminal organizations because of huge profits it generates."
An official said, "The lure of drugs and quick bucks also attracts foreigners to the largely unexplored areas of Himachal Pradesh where they have become part of unorganized drug cultivation. In the past five years, 70 foreigners, mainly Britons, Israelis, Dutch, Germans, Japanese and Italians, have been arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act."
Addressing the gathering, Justice T.S. Thakur of the Supreme Court said, "4,366 cases were registered in the state under the NDPS Act till May 31, 871 cases alone in Kullu district. Drug problem is a serious issue. 67% of population in Punjab is addicted to drug abuse, which is not good for a state which is known for its valor."
Himachal Pradesh High Court Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmed Mir raised concerns over the increasing rate of druggists in the country. He said, "The drug business had a turnover of around $500 billion and was the third largest business next to petroleum and arms trade."
Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda said, "Some 7.3 crore people in India were used to drug abuse and 70% of them had become heavy addicts."