In the 1890s, the British government commissioned a report on the use of cannabis (i.e., marijuana) in British India, which at that time included Burma. The report that this “Indian Hemp Drugs Commission” produced was more than 3,000 pages long.


I have just begun to read through this report. What I can see already though is that ganja (another name for marijuana) was apparently prohibited in British-controlled Lower Burma in 1873, but that with the British annexation of Upper Burma in 1885, large numbers of Indian troops and workers started to arrive in Burma, and since ganja was apparently still legal in India, these men wanted ganja, and they found ways to get it.

So it was possible to obtain ganja in the 1890s in British Burma, and Indians were apparently the main consumers of this drug.


This got me thinking. . . I’m aware that there were many Indians who worked for the British in Burma. If they were smoking ganja while they worked. . . then what would that have been like?

To help imagine what that would have been like, I created a kind of “soundscape.”

Let’s imagine a time a bit later than the 1890s, like perhaps the 1930s. And let’s also imagine that we are at a bus station in Burma. And let’s imagine that we are an Indian guard who is in charge of inspecting the station and making sure that everything is in order. And finally, let’s imagine that we are high on ganja.

What would things have sounded like to us? I suspect that they would have sounded like this.