Weed in Goa – the Underground Tourism Marketplace

Cannabis in India is a funny thing. The country is so large, with so many different kinds of cultures and beliefs, and people of different kinds of religions. Much different than where I grew up, where we had one Chinese family who owned the Chinese restaurant (1B was the best combo! Shout out to Brian Kwong!), and a town full otherwise of red-necked hix and girls wearing black tights J.Lo. inspired silver hoochie hoops.

In some parts of India drugs, including cannabis, are completely un-tolerated and banned, along side alcohol and other addictive substances, especially in many of the more traditional religious focussed provinces or rural towns.

In other parts of the country, it seems like you can find opiates and other normally banned substances available for a penny a punch.

A lot of the pharmacies in small towns sell prescription drugs like stickers or candy on rolls, pulling down on just the right number of pills you need at any given time – all at an easy price.

What a shock it is to go back to regular prescription drugs after that! So difficult, and expensive. Safer? Maybe. I saw Pfizer Goa on one of those rolls in the shop, hard to say if it’s real or not. The codeine works.

Things that were advertised to me in India so far include: powdered opiate substrates at weddings on banana leaves, mushrooms in the mountains for hikers (often on pizza and in shakes), ecstasy at a whiskey night club, and weed? Well, weed was found, or smelled, in all sorts of places.

At one point, I met a man in the mountains of Leh Ladakh area who said he owned a Tea Estate in Darjeeling. He told me that cannabis grew in the plenty along side the tea they were growing, and that many of the workers smoked it on their lunch break.

In Himachal, wafts joints came from guesthouse windows day and night, everyone had something to sell. In Goa however, a different kind of cannabis was found – the kind that was sold to Tourists. Many tourists were visiting from countries where cannabis was also banned, but with much more strict penalties for imbibing. If you read my blog on Dubai posted earlier, you’ll see a part where I mentioned that cannabis was sold in nightclubs and bars for about $250 per gram. Well, here in Goa on more instance than once, we found tourists from Dubai, who saved there $250 per gram for a $500 round-trip ticket to India instead, where they could sit on the beach and smoke nearly free hashish. It smelt horrible to me, and looked like coal for lack of a better word, but they seemed in love with it. Everyone sitting, eating their Nutella filled dumplings, smoking their musty joints, staring at the ocean.

I was more interested in the abundance of cheap Diamox pills (altitude sickness) in Northern India, and codeine covered anti-inflammatories in the south (headache and hangover recovery from beach parties). The dichotomy of the offerings across the country were interesting, and not much different in some ways than how different states in the USA have split up the regulations.

So what will happen next in this country? India is massive, chaotic and hilarious to try and control (sorry Indian admin!). It seems like in each corner of India, a different set of administrators are working on some sort of policy to launch some sort of regulatory reform on the product, and on each street corner, a new businessman is claiming he has the first real deal. So how do we know what’s real and what’s fake, in a nation that’s famous for trickery and mastering illusion? Hard to say, but I think that 2019 will be a good year for India, and I’m excited to see what will happen next!

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Tegan J Adams,
CEO & Author

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