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  1. Alfa
    SPROUTING A NEW HIGH: THE REAL STORY

    KULLU: A revolution has been sprouting in the high vales of Kullu. An
    invasive strain is fast replacing the native. Just that this time around few
    know about it and even fewer are bothered.

    A genetically modified cannabis plant has swamped the Kullu region.

    The new stock is represented by a monster of a plant as compared to the
    local variety (see box). The knock-out punch in its favour is, obviously,
    the higher content of drug that it yields.

    "Estimates suggest that 12,000 bighas in Kullu sprout genetically modified
    hashish," is the candid revelation by Kullu SP Anand Pratap Singh. Being a
    weed, it is impossible to eradicate cannabis. The new plant has spread
    beyond cultivated control and can now be found all over.

    Conservative estimates put the yield at 3 kg per bigha priced Rs 75,000 at
    source. That spells a straight up revenue of Rs 112.5 crore. And we are not
    even beginning to consider the street value in our own metros, what to talk
    of abroad.

    The new variety is suspected to be of foreign origin. Not that
    transportation to India would have been a problem.

    Rakesh Goyal, north zone director of Narcotics Control Bureau, points out
    the lacuna: "Possession of cannabis seeds is not a crime in India. It
    invites no prosecution. As such, any junkie worth his high could have just
    waltzed through our non-existent quarantine procedures."

    A beautiful granite chillum passes from table to table at a cafe in Kalga, a
    favoured junkie haven in the Parvati valley.

    "Boom" the cry alerts the next in line to his fix. There's peace in this
    land of boom. A trip to dreamland is, after all, just a puff away.

    Here genetic modification is not raising any concern, it's just taking them
    higher and way beyond any.

    This is the first report in a three-part series.

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