There’s one major cash crop in Malana, an ancient village in India’s northern Himachal Pradesh province: Cannabis. Much of the high-quality cannabis products available in India come from this small region. The most coveted product is Malana Cream.

Malana Cream is a hash made from heirloom cannabis grown in this remote area of the Parvati Valley. In Amsterdam, the stuff sells for $250 per tola, which is 11.66 grams of hashish.

In major Indian cities like Dheli, the hash retails at $40. This significant profit increase from the $16 local price provides ample encouragement for black market cannabis trade.

Cannabis is grown in mountain fields above the village. As the primary money-maker for the town’s 1,500 residents, many begin their horticultural life quite young. In a feature for the

In a feature for the New York Times (NYT), one local explains,

Some parents here tell their kids to work in the farms, rather than go to school.

Others, like 16-year-old Dayal, turned to cannabis cultivation after his father died. Though cultivation of cannabis plants in the cool mountain village is no easy task, the herb is necessary for the economic survival of the Malani.

To get Malana Cream down to the tourist markets, residents and mules carry loads for an hour through winding paths before connecting with a road that can be used by cars. The closest town is another 20 kilometers away, and the roads are frequently broken from traffic accidents and landslides.

Apart from the long trek, smuggling cannabis has many other risks. Growers face raids and serious legal troubles if caught growing or trading the herb. Though government-licensed cannabis production is permitted for certain purposes in India, the 1985 Narcotics Act makes the herb illegal to cultivate or consume for general purposes.

Teenaged Dayal has already had some scary interactions with the police. He explains,

I have been caught twice by the police while trying to smuggle maal (stuff) out of Malana. But I still go there because tourists pay the most money for it.

Though raids do occur in Malana, many cannabis farmers have found a way to work with law enforcement. Bribes and other forms of corruption are rampant, and official complacency can be bought.

However, tensions between the Malana community and the government is very real. One local, Preet, tells NYT,

Of course, we want better facilities like roads. But will they let us live in peace?

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