The raging pandemic has led to excruciating levels of uncertainty and taken a toll on the world economy; 2020 brought to life more than a few apocalyptic fantasies about the dystopian future. Financial instability remains a major highlight of 2020 especially for already struggling families, but some hustlers saw their business soar during the pandemic, for instance drug dealers. Specifically hash dealers.
There are no available statistics online on how many people do hash in Lahore but according to a rough estimate by Zahid*, a professional hash dealer who has been active in this line of work for 20 years now, around 60-70% adults in Lahore smoke cannabis.
Surprisingly, the sale of hash went up by a whopping 20%, based on profits, in Lahore during the pandemic. During what the dealers call ‘good months’ some of them managed to make profits upwards of PKR 90,000.
We came to know that there two kinds of dealers in this line of work; part-time dealers and professional hash experts. Part-time dealers are usually students or unemployed adults with bachelor’s degrees selling hash as a side hustle. We spoke to Hasan* a dealer who practices law in the morning but sells hash at night. Professional hash experts are usually people who grow weed and cannabis in their farmhouses near the peripheral areas of Lahore.
While drugs such as ‘shrooms and E are usually associated with the elite class, hash consumption has increased among the working and upper middle class. Students from the age group of 17 to 26 years form the majority of the clientele.
Lahore has witnessed a wave of pop-up restaurants and chai cafes which are readily used by hash dealers to sell their product. These open air chai cafes are usually crowded and safe for people to make their purchase without the fear of getting caught by the authorities.
Hasan*, who supplies to university students including the GCU and NCA hostels, said social media has revolutionised the hash businesses. Dealers prefer Snapchat as a mode of communication because of the vanish mode feature.
Clients request a specific amount of hash from the dealers, then they send you a picture if and when you discuss the rate. The product is mostly delivered concealed in another package, perhaps a book, through a delivery service such as Careem. Clients make the advance payment before delivery with the remainder paid afterwards.
It is funny to see that in Pakistan, drug dealers’ networks are more organised and sophisticated than our state institutions. What was surprising and somewhat unfortunate to see was that many graduate students took up selling hash due to the state of the job market.
Despite Karachi scoring the second position in the list of most cannabis consuming cities in the world, Lahore’s dealers are flourishing in their neck of the woods.
*names have been changed.