Nepal legalization of marijuana
Nepal legalization of marijuana

Himalayan Weed - Nepal Introduces Cannabis Legalization Legislation

Will Nepal join the green rush in legalizing cannabis?

Posted by:
Laurel Leaf on Thursday Oct 21, 2021

Cannabis Legalization Legislation Introduced in Nepal

Nepal weed legalization

The availability and wide use of marijuana in Nepal drew thousands of hippies to the country. And at that time, cannabis was not only accepted but also ingrained in the religion and culture of Nepal.


However, Nepal followed other nations to outlaw and criminalize marijuana in the late 70s. That's not all, the Nepal government also took further actions by chasing out hippies who came from the United States and Europe.


Exactly 44 years later, the idea of legalizing marijuana has grown to be popular in Nepal. Campaigners and supporters are now looking to legalize the use, farming, and export of cannabis once again. Campaigners have submitted a bill in the parliament that would see to the organization of cannabis. However, there's been a delay in debate as squabbles continue between political parties for power.



Why did Nepal ban cannabis in the 1970s?


Cannabis has been an integral part of human civilization across the globe. In countries such as India and Nepal, cannabis holds both cultural and religious (cannabis is an offering to Lord Shiva) significance. According to James Fisher in his book title Cannabis and Culture, he wrote about the use of cannabis in various communities in Nepal. The elderly back then uses cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes as well as cooking. Cannabis was used by Ayurvedic doctors alongside other herbs to cure tetanus, insomnia, cholera, and diarrhoea among other sicknesses.


In the late 60s and early 70s, the hippies (western youths part of a counterculture movement) travelled down to Nepal. In search of spiritual peace, the hippies came down to Nepal from Europe. They would use cannabis and hallucinogens which were surplus in the Kathmandu Valley to get high.


However, sustained pressure came from the United Nations, the United States, and even locals to ban cannabis because of the hippie's activities. Eventually, the Nepal government gave in and banned cannabis on July 16, 1973. According to the Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act, 2033, cannabis is illegal to cultivate, trade, and consume in Nepal. In 2003, Nepal also went ahead to sign the United Nations ‘Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961’.




A Push for Legalization Legislation


According to the Associated Press (AP), activists continue to push for the organization legislation of cannabis in the Nepalese Parliament. Nepal now looks to join other nations that have revised their cannabis laws in the last years. But there's been some delay due to cross-party disagreements as regards parliamentary power.


Rajiv Kafle, the campaign leader, via the AP, asserted that the legalization of cannabis in Nepal is firstly for medicinal. Most especially for patients who are dying. Rajiv Kafle is also talked about the economic effect that the legalization of cannabis would have on Nepal.


Kafle mentioned that the country's competitive edge and low cost of production of cannabis offer a great advantage in the global market. With these advantages, the country will surely win in the global market which will surely change the country for good.


Bird Khatiwada, the Health Minister of Nepal has enlisted to testify in favour of the bill. He is also an influential member of the governing coalition favouring the change. Bird Khatiwada mentioned that there are presently 9,000 Nepalese in prison for cannabis-related crimes. He also stated that he's optimistic about the economic impact that the legalization of cannabis would have on the country.


Khatiwada, recognizing that most developed and powerful countries now allow the use of cannabis, is trying to make it an issue in Parliament. Khatiwada also believes the new law would make sure the benefits won't go to a small group or one industrialist. But rather it will benefit everyone including poor farmers who would also use their land to grow it.



Should Nepal legalize cannabis?


According to many researchers, Nepal has one the best ecology and diverse climate best suited for cultivating cannabis. As written by Fisher, cannabis grows in most parts of Nepal except in the far north of the country.


Nepal has fertile land, the best ecology, and the climate best suited for growing cannabis according to the American Journal of Agriculture Research. All these make Nepal a potential major cannabis producer in the world but this resource remains untapped due to lack of legalization.


A pro-cannabis campaigner, Ravi Pradhan, via South Asia Check asserted that the country should begin cultivating hemp. He backed up his idea by saying the soil is fertile enough to support its growth. He also talked about the various value-added and commercial products such as cloth, rope, paper, and fuel among others.


The push for the legalization legislation of cannabis has been ongoing since the beginning of the year. And cultivation has been proposed to be for export to the international market. With such international sales, Nepal will be able to earn billions of dollars every year.


According to a report, by 2027, the global legal marijuana market is expected to grow to a $73.6 billion industry. With medical marijuana accounting for 71%. In 2019, the unprocessed and unrefined marijuana market was estimated at $9.1 billion with 90% of the revenue confined to North America. The global cannabis market is waiting for Nepal to take charge and the time for legalization is now.


However, from the opposition, economist Bishwa Poudel questions the economic potential of cannabis in Nepal. Paul claims that it has already been tested in the 70s by the tourism sector and failed woefully. Poudel claims that even though cannabis might be applicable for medicinal use, it's not practical for recreation and tourism promotion.




Bottom Line

Cannabis is widely available in Nepal and grown on a small scale across the country mainly because of cultural and religious tolerance. However, there's the need to legalize its usage considering its medicinal use and economical advantage. Kafle, an HIV patient who uses cannabis for medicinal use is facing 10 years in jail if convicted. This is as a result of the lack of legalization of cannabis which needs to end. With more countries allowing the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana. It's only a matter of time before Nepal follows suit.





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