Monday, 30th October 2017

E- paper

MP on a high with 'cannabis' kurta

Tathagata Satpathy, the MP who has advocated legalising marijuana, was on a new high when he walked into Parliament House yesterday.

By Anita Joshua
  • Published 22.07.16

New Delhi, July 21: Tathagata Satpathy, the MP who has advocated legalising marijuana, was on a new high when he walked into Parliament House yesterday.

Correction. He was wearing his new high: a kurta made from hemp, the fibre of a variant of the cannabis plant.

The BJD parliamentarian got such a kick out of it that one of the first things he did on returning home was to have his "resident policy nerds" who run his official Twitter handle tweet about it. "Today's High: The Kurta TS wore to Lok Sabha today is made of Hemp fabric (courtesy: @Bohecoindia)."

Boheco is the acronym of Bombay Hemp Company, which had got in touch with the outspoken parliamentarian after he pitched for legalising marijuana last December. The company says the hemp used in their fabric is "zero-narcotic".

During the discussion on the bill to amend the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, Satpathy made out a strong case for lifting the ban on natural substances. Referring to his constituency Dhenkanal in Odisha, he said people there, including the old, used to smoke natural marijuana.

"By imposing a ban on natural substances, which people have been using for ages from the times of Lord Shiva or may be earlier, we have actually forced a lot of these people to move on to alcohol. Bhang was a very common intoxicant in the holy city of Puri. You could get it on the roadside. It was legally available there. It is available in Varanasi also. You have made it illegal and it has been replaced by alcohol," he had said in the Lok Sabha.

He had also confessed to smoking pot in his younger days during an "Ask Me Anything" session on the social networking site Reditt.

Tonight, Satpathy said: "When I spoke about the need to legalise marijuana, I did not have in mind its recreational uses only. I see it as a low-maintenance cash crop that can provide an alternative form of livelihood."

Boheco was equally thrilled by his public endorsement of the hemp kurta and replied to Satpathy's tweet: "It was an absolute pleasure. We hope to continue getting your support towards draping every parliamentarian in Hemp."

Asked if it had been in touch with other parliamentarians to promote hemp as an alternative to linen that is increasingly becoming the preferred fabric among politicians after khadi, Boheco's director of strategy & collaborations, Jahan Peston Jamas, told The Telegraph that "we have been speaking to several ministries - textiles, agriculture and finance - but not individual MPs as such."

The company has been working closely with the Uttarakhand government, and has gifted hemp kurta, bandi (half coat) and shoes to chief minister Harish Rawat.

Chirag Tekchandaney, Boheco's director of marketing and human resources, said hemp is cheaper than Irish linen, considered the highest grade in the fabric made out of flax.

A hemp kurta could cost Rs 2,500 while an Irish linen kurta would be priced over Rs 3,000. According to hemp enthusiasts, the low-maintenance Cannabis Sativa L. (industrial hemp) has been used in rural India for centuries.