ICYMI: Cannabis, with its many, many uses, has been anointed the saviour crop of our generation. Bombay Hemp Company is here to grow an industry – and weed out the myths from fact
Bombay Hemp Company might be barely seven years old, but Head of Business Development & Media Yash Kotak has heard every joke under the sun about hemp. “If I wash this shirt, will I get high?” he rolls his eyes, counting off the most frequently volleyed punchlines. “If I wash these pants, will they dissolve?” (Because bhaang does.) Perhaps most outrageous, if marginally more intelligent: “If my house catches re, will I get stoned?”
“Initially, people even thought we were selling ham, not hemp,” laughs Chirag Tekchandaney, Head of Marketing & Human Resources. “Most of these come up at educative sessions and talks we hold in colleges about the sustainability aspect of hemp. And when these young buds come up and ask these questions, they act as real icebreakers for us.”
“Wait, did you actually call them ‘young buds’?” quips Sanvar Oberoi, Director of Finance & Digital Technology. We’re sitting in Boheco’s tiny loft of an of Office hiding in a bylane of Mumbai’s money-minded Lower Parel neighbourhood, crammed between a sporting goods retail shop and an automobile workshop. When you spot a giant cannabis leaf drawn on the wall along a staircase, you’ve found the HQ. But considering the immense growth that the company has seen in the past few years, it might be time to move.
Boheco was launched in 2013 by seven guys studying at Mumbai’s HR College, who’d come together to explore how they could “use social entrepreneurship to power rural India.” Its first project focused on developing solar lanterns and lamps made by the disabled, and creating a channel to supply them to parts of India with little or no access to electricity.
“During our travels across Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, we noticed that the landscape would change entirely every 100km, but for one thing,” says Kotak. “Cannabis grew so ubiquitously, and yet it had no economic value except for local subsistence, its fibre extracted to tie cattle or used as fuel.”
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