Is Nepal Going to Legalize Weed?

Nepalese lawmakers have proposed legalizing marijuana in Nepal, which has been illegal since the 70s.

Nepal is home to the Himalayas, hordes of travelers and famously, hashish. For decades, bohemian travellers and locals alike would indulge in the cannabis concentrate, leading to the development of a milder form of the cannabis economy we see in places like Illinois and Colorado today.

Though with Nixon's declarative War on Drugs in the 1970's, countries across the globe were pressured to tighten their drug laws in line with the U.S., which brought Nepal's cannabis market to a screeching halt. Cannabis stores closed their doors, and farmers began tending to other crops.

For the next forty years, cannabis would only be acquired in the black market of Nepal, in back alleys and through street dealers. As it stands, users of cannabis in Nepal can be sentenced to up to a month in jail, with dealers facing prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Though things may be about to change.

Earlier this week, 46 members of the Communist Party of Nepal filed a proposal to Parliament which seeks to legalize the production and use of marijuana. The party lawmaker, Birodh Khatiwada stated that Nepal's landscape lends itself toward cannabis cultivation, and the plant could serve as an economic boon for farmers that cultivate it.

"Legalizing marijuana will help poor farmers. Since most of the Western world, which was the reason for making it illegal in the first place, have already ended the prohibition, Nepal should also lift the ban," Khatiwada said.

Birodh Khatiwada hails from the country's Makawanpur district, which is one of Nepal's biggest producers of illegal marijuana.

Mr. Khatiwada's point that Nepal should follow the cannabis legalization occurring globally is a valid one, as countries throughout the globe are relaxing their stances on the plant, allowing for either medicinal use or all-out recreational legalization.

Uruguay and Canada have legalized cannabis federally, and 11 U.S. states have followed suit, with Illinois most recently, who generated $40 million in cannabis sales in the first month of legalization.

Whether Nepal will move forward with cannabis legalization remains yet to be seen, however, it is indisputable that the strict laws of the country were brought forth by the U.S. in 1973 with the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Agency. Furthermore, it is indisputable that great amounts of money can be made through cannabis legalization, as evidenced by Illinois most recently, and Colorado, who has brought in over $1 billion in tax revenue since it legalized cannabis in 2013.

Additionally, occurring alongside the money generated by cannabis, are the jobs created within the cannabis industry. In the U.S., cannabis is the biggest job creator of any industry and has been for years.

Given that it was the U.S. who told Nepal to make the plant illegal initially, why should they maintain such strict cannabis laws if the War on Drugs has proven to be a failure?

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.

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