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Traditional Cannabis Cultivation in Darchula District, Nepal—Seed, Resin and Textiles

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Abstract

The higher elevation regions of Darchula District in the northwest of Nepal provide a unique example of a basic Cannabis agricultural system whereby all three major products-seeds and resin from the female flowers as well as fiber from the stems-are extracted from the same crop. For centuries prior to the relatively recent influences of market economics and law enforcement, this simple cropping system was much more widespread throughout neighboring regions of Asia, wherever and whenever Cannabis seed, drugs and fiber were in demand.
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... As early as 1894 it was noted that the materials used for the production of a local extract in India were 'flower heads, which are now full of seed, discarding the coarser leaves' (Indian Hemp Drugs Commission, 1894). 123 years later, a paper describes the botanical parts harvested for their psychoactivity, in Nepal, as the 'mature seeded female inflorescences' (Clarke, 2007). Creative alternatives, such as buds, bractlets, calyxes (Frank, 2018), 'bracts which surround the ovaries' (Dewick, 2012), or seedless floral clusters were found, reflecting a lack of consensus around the designation of these parts. ...
... The sentence describing the frontispiece photograph of Cannabis and Health (Graham, 1976: III) achieves the feat of referring to the same specimen simultaneously as a 'fresh flowering top' and a 'developing fruit'. These curious phraseologies can be explained by the fact that, in traditional outdoor cultivation, staminate and hermaphrodite plants can occur in the field, thus resulting in the pollination of some flowers, and their transformation into fruits bearing seeds (Chopra and Chopra, 1957;Clarke, 2007). C. sativa farmers have developed strategies to avoid this and reduce the presence of seeds in harvestable crops, mostly by impeding pollination. ...
... Minor changes in extraction parameters have shown to result in significant chemical and pharmacological differences between final products (for instance cannabinoidless essential oils and high-dronabinol 'concentrates' which can both be obtained by distillation). Solventless extraction or processing techniques, although less numerous, also showed substantial variability; additionally, many of these are embedded in traditional folk knowledge and intangible assets, still fully or partially undocumented (Abbott, 2014;Abdool, 2013;Bellakhdar, 1997: 232-234;Clarke, 2007;Kutesa, 2018). Variables such as the size of filter pores, the amount of pressure exerted, the temperature, or the type of movement applied are also determinative in characterising the final product (Devi and Khanam, 2018;Hamayun and Shinwari, 2004;Upton et al., 2014;supplementary Appendix IV). ...
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Objective: Identify a coherent nomenclature of products containing cannabinoids (whether derived from Cannabis sativa L. or not). Design: Research undertaken in parallel to the three-year assessment of Cannabis derivatives by the World Health Organisation. The scope is limited to Cannabis products intended for human incorporation (internal and topical con- sumption). Primarily embedded in pharmacognosy, the study incorporates a wide range of scholarly and grey literature, folk knowledge, archives, pharmacopœias, international law, field pharmacy, clinical and herbal medicine data, under a philosophical scrutiny. Generic and Cannabis-specific nomenclatural frames are compared to determine the extent to which they coincide or conflict. Results: All lexica reviewed use weak, ambiguous, or inconsistent terms. There is insufficient scientific basis for terms and concepts related to Cannabis at all levels. No sound classification exists: current models conflict by adopting idiosyncratic, partial, outdated, or utilitarian schemes to arrange the extraordinarily numerous and diverse derivatives of the C. sativa plant. In law and policy, no clear or unequivocal boundary between herbal and non-herbal drugs, nor natural and synthetic cannabinoids was found; current nomenclatures used need updates. In science, the botanical Cannabis lexicon overlooks parthenocarpy, and wide disagreement remains as to the taxonomy and systematics of the plant; chemical research should address differences in kinds between synthetic cannabinoids; pharmacopœias include little information related to Cannabis, and disagree on broader classes of herbal medicines, virtually failing to embrace many known Cannabis medicines. Since existing products and compounds fail to be categorised in an evidence-based manner, confusions will likely increase as novel cannabinoid compounds, genetic and biotechnological modifications surge. Conclusions: The lack of clarity is comprehensive: for patients, physicians, and regulators. The study proposes an update of terms at several levels. It points at gaps in morphological descriptions in botany and pharmacognosy and a need for a metaphysical address of cannabinoids. Methods of obtention are identified as a common criterion to distinguish products; the way forward suggests a mutually exclusive nomenclatural pattern based on the smallest common denominator of obtention methods. In the context of a swelling number of Cannabis products being consumed (be it via medical prescription, adult-use, ‘hemp’ foodstuff and cosmetics, or other purposes), this study can assist research, contribute to transparent labelling of products, consumer safety and awareness, pharmacovigilance, medical standards of care, and an update of prevention and harm reduction approaches. It can also better inform regulatory policies surrounding C. sativa, its derivatives, and other cannabinoid-containing products. Original article available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2050324520945797
... This is supported by a previous study reported that the combination of the psychoactive cannabis ∆9-THC with other non-psychotropic cannabinoids such as CBD demonstrated a higher activity than THC alone [70,71]. Additionally, previous findings showed that all three major products-food, fiber, and medicine-were extracted from the same crop of the accessions from Darchula district in the northwest of Nepal [72]. In addition, some Iranian cannabis populations were evaluated using wood and fiber anatomy and stem biometry characteristics [73]. ...
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Cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) has a rich history of human use, and the therapeutic importance of compounds produced by this species is recognized by the medical community. The active constituents of cannabis, collectively called cannabinoids, encompass hundreds of distinct molecules, the most well-characterized of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which have been used for centuries as recreational drugs and medicinal agents. As a first step to establish a cannabis breeding program, we initiated this study to describe the HPLC-measured quantity of THC and CBD biochemistry profiles of 161 feral pistillate cannabis plants from 20 geographical regions of Iran. Our data showed that Iran can be considered a new region of high potential for distribution of cannabis landraces with diverse THC and CBD content, predominantly falling into three groups, as Type I = THC-predominant, Type II = approximately equal proportions of THC and CBD (both CBD and THC in a ratio close to the unity), and Type III = CBD-predominant. Correlation analysis among two target cannabinoids and environmental and geographical variables indicated that both THC and CBD contents were strongly influenced by several environmental–geographical factors, such that THC and CBD contents were positively correlated with mean, min and max annual temperature and negatively correlated with latitude, elevation, and humidity. Additionally, a negative correlation was observed between THC and CBD concentrations, suggesting that further studies to unravel these genotype × environment interactions (G × E interactions) are warranted. The results of this study provide important pre-breeding information on a collection of cannabis that will underpin future breeding programs.
... 19 Clarke R suggests in a study that northwest Nepal provides a unique example of a basic cannabis agricultural system that ensures all 3 major productsseeds and resin from female flowers, and fiber from stems. 20 After the imposition of law for punishment for possessing and using the drug, local traders still practice illegal trading in Nepal. Proponents of legalization advocate it as a strong mechanism to stop the illegal trade of medicinal plants and ultimately to increase revenue generation. ...
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Nepal is a geographically, ecologically, bio-culturally and ethnically diverse country. Cannabis has been a flora, used in various forms and ways and its effect has been variably a matter of concern in Nepal. Perception to its use has also been changing with time with the dynamics of various factors and trends around and in the world. The views of its proponents at times appear with relatively more powerful influence among people though the views of the opponents seem less, and relatively less influential. Proponents advocate for its legalization with highlights of its different uses and benefits whereas opponents, mainly mental health professionals point out sporadically its adverse consequences, mainly in psychological health. The purpose of this review is to explore the existing literature regarding cannabis use and abuse in Nepal. Search for articles for this review was performed in PubMed, Google Scholar, and Nepal Journal Online. We summarize and discuss about cannabis in various aspects in the Nepalese context. The overarching objective is to reflect upon the ongoing debate regarding its harm and benefits, thereby upon the issue of its legalization in Nepal.
... Ancient use of drug-type genotypes dates back to at least 2700 years before present, discovered by gifts that included THC observed in Central Asia, which were probably employed for ritualistic and medicinal purposes (Jiang et al., 2006(Jiang et al., , 2016Ren et al., 2019;Russo et al., 2008). However, these fossil analyses did not exhibit any evidence of hemp use (Russo et al., 2008), raising this enigma of whether the drug-type and hemp domestication were initiated independently, or whether Cannabis was employed as a multipurpose plant (Clarke, 2007;Russo et al., 2008). Regardless, drug-type genotypes were distributed from India and Central Asia to Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, between 2000 and 500 years before present through Hindu and Arab cultures (Kovalchuk et al., 2020). ...
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Cannabis sativa L. is a high-value crop with a multi-billion dollar international market, yet due to the long history of prohibition, there is a significant lack of research on the plant and biotechnological techniques are in their infancy. Developing and applying modern techniques to Cannabis will help overcome some species-specific challenges to increase productivity and improve our knowledge about this plant. With regulatory environments relaxing in many parts of the world, there has been a significant increase in biotechnological research with this species. The current manuscript reviews the advances in Cannabis biotechnology, including molecular markers, microRNA, omics-based methods, and functional genes related to the terpene and cannabinoid biosynthesis as well as fiber quality. The foremost aim of this study is to a comprehensive review of the available literature to guide future cannabis studies in the field of genetic engineering and biotechnology.
... For drug-type Cannabis, ancient use dates back to 2,700 years BP, documented through burial gifts containing 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in Central Asia, which were likely used in medicinal and/or ritualistic contexts (49,50,90,94). The sites of these fossils did not reveal any evidence of fiber use (94), raising the question of whether Cannabis was first used as a multipurpose crop, or whether the domestication of hemp and drug-type Cannabis proceeded independently (22,94). Regardless, cultivated drug-type Cannabis was spread from Central Asia and/or India to Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia by Arab and Hindu cultures between 2,000 and 500 years www.annualreviews.org ...
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Cannabis sativa L. is an important yet controversial plant with a long history of recreational, medicinal, industrial, and agricultural use, and together with its sister genus Humulus, it represents a group of plants with a myr-iad of academic, agricultural, pharmaceutical, industrial, and social interests. We have performed a meta-analysis of pooled published genomics data, and 20.1
... For drug-type Cannabis, ancient use dates back to 2,700 years BP, documented through burial gifts containing 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in Central Asia, which were likely used in medicinal and/or ritualistic contexts (49,50,90,94). The sites of these fossils did not reveal any evidence of fiber use (94), raising the question of whether Cannabis was first used as a multipurpose crop, or whether the domestication of hemp and drug-type Cannabis proceeded independently (22,94). Regardless, cultivated drug-type Cannabis was spread from Central Asia and/or India to Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia by Arab and Hindu cultures between 2,000 and 500 years www.annualreviews.org ...
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Cannabis sativa L. is an important yet controversial plant with a long history of recreational, medicinal, industrial, and agricultural use, and together with its sister genus Humulus, it represents a group of plants with a myriad of academic, agricultural, pharmaceutical, industrial, and social interests. We have performed a meta-analysis of pooled published genomics data, and we present a comprehensive literature review on the evolutionary history of Cannabis and Humulus, including medicinal and industrial applications. We demonstrate that current Cannabis genome assemblies are incomplete, with ∼10% missing, 10–25% unmapped, and 45S and 5S ribosomal DNA clusters as well as centromeres/satellite sequences not represented. These assemblies are also ordered at a low resolution, and their consensus quality clouds the accurate annotation of complete, partial, and pseudogenized gene copies. Considering the importance of genomics in the development of any crop, this analysis underlines the need for a coordinated effort to quantify the genetic and biochemical diversity of this species.
... The bio-climate ranges from sub-tropical in the Baitadi district to alpine in the higher reaches of the mountainous Darchula district (Lilleso et al., 2005;Chaudhary et al., 2010). The upper Darchula district is originally known for growing amaranth (Balick and Cox, 1996) and is a part of the relict hemp culture (Clarke, 2007). In this area, more than two thirds of the populations still rely on indigenous livelihood strategies such as animal husbandry, transhumance, seasonal crop production and collection, and the use and trade of medicinal plants (Manzardo et al., 1976). ...
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Human communities that inhabit rural, remote, rugged and biodiverse environments adopt diverse livelihood strategies such as utilizing different ethno-ecological environments. The present study explores how people use plant resources in the context of availability and accessibility of plants and habitats, and diversity of culture. We hypothesize that people are most likely to forage the most visible and accessible plants and habitats frequently. This relationship was tested in the Darchula and Baitadi districts of the Kailash Sacred Landscape Nepal, using data from phytosociological studies and community interviews. Total use values, medicinal use values and other use values of plants were used for analyses. Plant availability was assessed by using phytosociological indicators. The accessibility was tested by using the use values of plants with reference to the site-specific explanatory variables: forest/non-forest habitat, nearby/transition/distant area, hill/mountainous district, and Himalayan endemic/Pan-Himalayan/cosmopolitan distribution. A weak association between plant use values and plant availability and site accessibility was recorded. However, the plant use value was influenced by ecological (Shannon diversity, species richness) and cultural indicators (preference for specific products and recognition) and varied at the level of use category (medicinal and non-medicinal). Higher medicinal use values at Darchula district indicate that the knowledge of plant collection and use was more dependent on quality of products and directed harvesting and less influenced by availability of resources and accessibility of sites. Since plant appa-rency was not found to always be the most important indicator, social and cultural factors appear to be as the most influential indicators.
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Having originated in Central Asia, Cannabis plant also known as Bhanga, Indrasana, Vijaya or Jaya in hindi and Sanskrit is a popular plant in India despite of its notorious property. It enjoys unique cultural significance apart from its food, medicinal and fiber properties for long. Traditional use of Cannabis (bhanga) seed in cuisine of Kumaun region is still very popular. Scanty archaeobotanical reports as well as literary evidences are available to give the antiquity of Cannabis in India that traces its antiquity in India to the third millennium BCE. Yet, the results are inadequate to decipher its use as seed or fiber. Based on literature search this paper aims to evaluate efficacy of Cannabis seed concerning its ethnopharmacology, phytochemistry, pharmacology and other ethnobotanical uses. Although studies supporting health benefits of cannabis seed consumption are few, researches available on nutritional profile indicate promise for future. As food, the species has tremendous nutritional potential for human well-being as well as animal and poultry feed. However there are few incidences recorded for the allergic reaction to either hemp pollen or THC. Despite its prehistoric significance, limited researches have been done as it was banned for cultivation.Keeping its future potential in view, there is a need to undertake more coordinated researches to establish its significance in nutrition and also validation studies so that applicability of cannabis could be established properly against various diseases.
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Afridi Tirah is one of the most remote areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. It is a semi-autonomous region, surrounded by lofty mountains. The inhabitants belong to the Afridi tribe of Pathans. They follow their own customs in every sphere of life and discourage any outside interference so much that even the pertinent Political Agent hesitates to visit the valley. Cannabis sativa L. has been cultivated in the area for hundreds of years. Charas (hashish) is produced in large quantities from Cannabis through folk means. The resinous bract around the seed gives the most potent and best quality drug. The quality of drug deteriorates with increasing percentage of adulterants and contaminants like leaves and small twigs. The charas (“black gold”) produced is not only used locally, but also smuggled to other parts of Pakistan and abroad. In Afridi Tirah, more than 75% of the men above the age of 15 are habitual charas users. Amongst women, this percentage is negligible due to the traditional limitations of local custom.
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