Bhubaneswar, April 16 (LocalWire): The Malkangiri district straddling the Odisha-Andhra Pradesh border is becoming a major hub for the illegal marijuana trade; thanks to the thriving cultivation of the weed in remote and inaccessible jungles.
Of late, almost all major marijuana seizures in Odisha either had links, or originated, in the border district.
Last month, cannabis worth rupees one crore was seized by police from a hideout in the district. The consignment was bound for Haryana. In February, four people were arrested with 82 kg of marijuana bags worth rupees 16 lakh in Gajapati district, said police.
In 2017 alone, 3.5 lakh kg of cannabis was seized from different parts of the state, while most of the cases had Malkanagiri connections. This was by far the biggest annual haul of the banned drug in recent years. In a first major haul in 2011, police had seized 600 kg of marijuana from Cuttack, Sambalpur and Puri.
This illegal trade has reached an alarming proportion in the last five years, with nearly four lakh kg of marijuana being seized during the period, said an official requesting anonymity.
Marijuana consumption in Odisha
According to a National Sample Survey, Odisha spends more than the national average of 0.15 rupees on marijuana use, spending 0.17 rupees per head every month.
The study said that while 40% of teenagers in the state used inhalants, less than 15% of youth used heroin, another highly addictive drug smuggled from outside the state.
Marijuana is a psychoactive drug produced from the cannabis plant. Its regular consumption can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and even stroke.
In recent years, the number of drug addicts has increased in Odisha; however, on a national level, the figure may be more than 70 million, said the official.
There’re numerous drug rehabilitation centers across Odisha, with over 20 of them located in Bhubaneswar alone to help people shun the habit. This high number points at the gravity of the situation.
Despite awareness drives against cannabis use and crackdown on dealers, the illegal marijuana trade continues to rear its ugly head in Odisha and elsewhere.
All narcotics are banned in India under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985. If convicted under the Act, a person could get up to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment.