bhang, which operates to prevent the imports from passing a very limited figure.
The taxation of this bhang is excessive, and its sale is affected by the fact that
only the wholesale dealers are allowed to sell it by retail.

Recommendations for its control
and taxation.

677. The Commission are in favour of taking such measures as are possible
for controlling and taxing bhang. For the present
they consider that in the belt of growth above re-
ferred to nothing more can be done than to auction the monopoly of retail
vend. In other parts they are of opinion that cultivation should be prohi-
bited, except under licenses, and arrangements made for the transfer of the
whole crop produced from licensed cultivation to the authorised vendors. In
these tracts they are of opinion that some attempt may be made to extir-
pate the spontaneous growth by rendering the occupiers of land responsible
that it shall not be found on their lands. Legislation may be necessary
for the purpose. They would like to see Mr. Westmacott's circular which was
cancelled by the Bengal Government revived, and they would suggest a
modification of the Assam circular permitting the use of green or dry hemp
for the use of cattle. Now that the habitat of the spontaneous growth has been
clearly defined, Local Governments will have no difficulty in deciding where, for
the present at least, the existing system must be allowed to continue. The
Commission think that it may be impossible to treat the bhang which is pro-
duced in ganja-growing tracts in a different manner from ganja. To do so would
probably be to imperil the ganja administration. But if this opinion is found to
be mistaken, they would be glad to see this bhang more leniently treated than
ganja. The Commission find that in the Central Provinces bhang is only per-
mitted to be sold by the wholesale vendors, and the duty is the same as in the
case of ganja. The reason for this is not apparent. As judged by the stand-
ard of other provinces, the incidence of taxation is high compared to ganja.

Distribution of the hemp drugs to
retail vendors.

678. As regards the distribution of the drugs to retail vendors, the Commis-
sion think that when adequate arrangements have
been made for their taxation, not much interference is
required. The evidence contains various suggestions
on this subject. Some witnesses point to the large profits reaped by whole-
sale vendors, and suggest that these middlemen should be abolished, and that
the functions discharged by them should be assumed by the Government in order
that these profits may be secured for the public revenues. The Commission are
not in favour of this proposal. It is open to some of the objections against a
Government monopoly which have been previously stated. If the profits reaped
by the wholesale vendors are found to be excessive, this fact would point to a
rise in the duty. If the latter is sufficient, the Government need not concern
itself with the dealers' profits. Private enterprise is, moreover, better suited for
the distribution of the taxed drugs than Government agency. The aim of Gov-
ernment should be to dissociate itself, as far as possible, consistently with efficient
control and adequate taxation from the supply of the drugs. This general
policy may admit of special exceptions. The Bengal Government has made pro-
vision for such exceptions, while affirming the general principle, in the following
rule*:—" Except in districts where minimum prices have been prescribed by the
Board, no attempt should be made to regulate the price at which spirits, liquor,

                            * Bengal Excise Manual, page 105, Rule 14.