The Cannabis Playground In Bengaluru – Part 1

Disclaimer: This post does not promote the consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes in any way. The aim of this post, is as always to educate and inform our readers about the complex narratives that drive our world as we know it.

In today’s story, we talk about the city of Bengaluru, India, home to approximately 12 to 14 million people and the capital of India’s Information Technology sector, accounting for almost 35% of India’s $181 billion worth of IT exports in fiscal year 2018-19. The city’s share of people between 15-35 years of age stands at a staggering 37%. Bengaluru’s engineering colleges / population ratio is 5x more than Delhi and 1.7x more than Mumbai. 44% of India’s migrants moving to Bengaluru have technology skills as opposed to 12% for Delhi-NCR and 11% for Mumbai. 70% of the engineers in the city are less than 35 years of age (Source: Bengaluru Innovation Report 2019 jointly released by Accel Partners, 3one4 Capital, and IdeaSpring Capital)

The issue is the consumption of recreational cannabis whose supply into the city has dried up on account of the imposed coronovirus lock-down, while demand has inevitably skyrocketed.

“Its gone, finished. I have nothing. None of my sources have anything with them. I guess my suppliers lie at the tail end of the supply chain”, says Abhilasha, who resides in Indiranagar, in a manner that can be best described as someone who has resigned and accepted her fate. “Like millions out there, I wasn’t prepared for something like this. I have tried everything. Like me, I guess my immediate social circle also lies way below the cannabis supply chain. There can be no other reason. I wish some of my friends had stocked up, then I could have gotten a delivery executive from Dunzo or Swiggy to get it to me”. Abhilasha, 33, is a senior sales executive at an education technology start-up.

“I feel like I’m the chosen one”, says Govind, 24, from Whitefield. Govind works as a junior programmer analyst for a cyber-security company.

“On 13th March, seven of my friends and me decided to contribute three thousand each to buy 1.5 kilograms of cannabis. Though the consignment was 100 grams short, we didn’t take up the issue with our supplier. We had been tracking the epidemic more seriously from the first week of March, and after we realized the immediate global impact, we knew a lock-down was imminent. It was a question of when. We dialed up our favourite supplier, who sourced the cannabis for us from another supplier residing in the city’s outskirts. According to the second supplier, we were his third-last customer. He would run out of his stock the next day. We had sourced enough for us. We sent some of it to our friends via Dunzo, disguised in a bag containing books or spare electronics or cooked food”

“I received my supply of cannabis from a mutual friend of a mutual friend of a mutual friend of a mutual friend, hidden and compressed in a small pouch, placed in a box containing Curry Rice and some fried vegetable. God bless him or her”, says Ravindra, 28, from Koramangala. “I work as a data analyst in an advertising agency. Yes, our clients’ businesses have slowed down to some extent since many of them are consumer based and dependent on footfall at a physical location. However, many have decided to bulk up their marketing spends on digital media to try getting closer to their consumers locked at home through branded content and other endeavors like building a better distribution model with logistics and e-commerce companies. There’s enough work for me. Office or home, it doesn’t make any difference to me. Cannabis had been the missing ingredient. I’m sorted for the next two weeks at least”

“We have had to adjust our business model”, says Manohar. 34, a prominent cannabis supplier operating in the Hebbal, R.T Nagar and the North Bengaluru markets. “These markets present us a sizeable body of working professionals to build personal relationships with. We have agreements with delivery executives, who work with us for extra margins. Since their movement is unhindered, we can ensure we co-ordinate with our customers through the telecom network for safe and secure delivery. The risk factor is several times higher as compared to normal times, but its something we have to do because we have to pay for our food, rent and utilities, just like everyone. Living in a city is not easy and we’ll do whatever it takes to enter any market that’s available to us. We’re planning to sell allied services like pre-rolled cones, cigarettes and freshly prepared cannabis-infused beverage shots as well”

“The government agencies know what’s going on. There’s no doubt about it”, Manohar continues speaking. “But what can they do? They’re operating at less than usual capacity on account of lockdown. Its impossible for them to monitor everything that’s going on and who can blame them for this? I hope they note the fact that coronavirus has single-handedly dealt a death blow to thousands and thousands of cannabis suppliers who bought cannabis into Bangalore from other smaller towns, cities and villages. Every single commercially registered vehicle is being more or less been very diligently monitored to ensure that only permitted goods pass through. We can manage as of now. Let’s see what the future holds. Its possible that there would be crackdowns and raids once things return to normal, in order to ensure that the power dynamics between them us return back to what it was before the lockdown”

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