Activists are pushing legislation in the Nepalese Parliament to legalize cannabis, according to the Associated Press. Once a hippy hideaway for cannabis before it was made illegal in the late 1970s, Nepal is looking to join other countries that have loosened cannabis laws in recent years. Cross-party disagreements concerning parliamentary power, however, have caused some delays, the report says.
“We are demanding the legalization of marijuana in Nepal firstly for medicinal purposes for patients who are dying.” — Campaign leader Rajiv Kafle, via the AP
Kafle is also looking to the economic impact legal cannabis would have on Nepal, telling the AP, “With our low cost of production and the competitive edge we have in the global market for cannabis, we surely are going to win and this is going to change the country.”
Health Minister Birod Khatiwada, a powerful member of the governing coalition in favor of the change, has signed up to testify in favor of the bill. He says there are currently 9,000 Nepalese in jail for cannabis, but he too is looking to the economic benefit legal cannabis would have on the once-popular hippy destination.
“I am trying to make it a campaign and issue in Parliament because many countries including the most powerful and developed countries have allowed the use of marijuana,” Khatiwada said. “The new law would ensure that the benefit is not going to go to one industrialist or small group of businesspeople but rather it will benefit the poor farmers who would use their small plots of land to grow it.”
Although cannabis is widely available in Nepal and is often allowed to grow on a small scale throughout the country due to religious and cultural tolerance, Kafle, a medical cannabis patient himself who uses the drug to manage his HIV, was arrested last month by police at his “Hippy Hills” retreat outside Kathmandu on narcotics distribution charges. He faces up to ten years in prison if convicted, according to the report.
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