Lawmakers in the country of Nepal (located northeast of India) are currently talking about the possibilities of cannabis legalization.
According to the New York Times, 46 members of the dominant Communist party agreed to file a proposal that would legalize both cannabis cultivation as well as consumption. On Feb. 10 lawmaker Birod Khatiwada proposed that the Himalayan mountain range that lies on the northernmost border of Nepal is an ideal area to begin cultivation, especially for impoverished farmers who could benefit from the work. “Legalizing marijuana will help the poor farmers and since most of the Western world, which was reason for making it illegal in the first place, have already ended the prohibition, Nepal should also lift the ban,” he said.
To date, there hasn’t been any further discussion about cannabis as an opportunity for Nepal. The Federal Parliament of Nepal must first debate the bill’s current language before any changes can be made.
Khatiwada is a representative of the Makawanpur district, which is well-known as an area that produces the highest amount of cannabis illegally. However, Khatiwada used the success of many other countries who have moved forward with cannabis to back up his proposal. “Marijuana has multiple uses. It also helps earn foreign currencies and produce medicines,” he told Parliament.
Cannabis has been used in Nepal for generations and gained heightened notoriety as a supplier for both cannabis as well as other substances in the 1960s. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s when the country made cannabis illegal, as per the Narcotic Drugs Control Act. As a result, those caught consuming cannabis can be imprisoned for up to one month. Violators who are caught trafficking can receive prison sentences of up to 10 years. Although cannabis is currently illegal, it is freely consumed at festivals such as the upcoming Maha Shivaratri (festival the Hindu god Shiva).