Home of the Legendaries temple balls and other exotic delicacies, Nepal may soon find its way back to legal cannabis, as the reflection has already surfaced several times over the past two years.
“It is not justifiable that a poor country like ours should treat cannabis like a drug,” Birodh Khatiwada, Nepal’s Minister of Health, told Agence France-Presse on April 29. “Our people are being punished (…) and our corruption is increasing because of smuggling because we follow the decisions of developed countries who now do what they want. »
Local activists are also hoping for the availability of cannabis for medical use.
“It’s medicine,” said cannabis activist Rajiv Kafle, who lives with HIV and uses cannabis for medical reasons. HIV can lead to wasting syndrome, i.e. loss of appetite, as cannabis is notorious for post-consumption hunger pangs.
“So many patients consume it, but they are forced to do it illegally,” said Rajiv Kafle. “They can get caught at any time.” On October 11, campaigners introduced a bill in parliament, seeking to re-legalize the cultivation, use and export of cannabis, as more and more countries allow its medical and recreational uses.
Hashish and Kathmandu
In the 1960s, there are many tales of how the most devout hippies traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, to buy the best hashish in the world, either directly from growers for the more adventurous, or from government-sanctioned stores. Due to increasing pressure from the United States and other countries, Nepal closed its hash shops in 1973.
Today, the application of prohibition is uneven: tourists are often spared and law enforcement often turn a blind eye during religious holidays, where cannabis plays an important role. The consumption of cannabis in Hindu temples is thus commonplace. Shiva, destroyer of evil, is often depicted holding a chillum, a gesture repeated during certain ceremonies or during the Hindu festival of Shivaratri.
In some areas, however, the penalties are severe. Traffickers risk up to ten years in prison and plants are regularly seized and destroyed. In 2018, a temple complex was also raided by police in which 280 people were arrested and 115 charged.