July 20, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Revisiting the Ganja thought

The Nepal Weekly
June 11, 2024

Finance Minister Barsha Man Pun announced that Nepal will legalise marijuana cultivation and consumption for medicinal purposes. He spoke while presenting the government’s budget estimates for the 2024-35 fiscal year. Addressing the joint session of Parliament, Pun said that necessary laws would be framed for commercial production of marijuana in the country.

“Legal arrangements will be made for commercial cultivation and consumption of marijuana for medical use,”.

Moreover, Nepal is a signatory to the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, which classifies marijuana as a hard drug like heroin, the Nepalese media reported last year when a similar proposal was included in the budget for the 2023-24 fiscal.

In the same context, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Rabi Lamichhane has expressed commitment to drafting the regulations for a feasibility study on the cultivation of marijuana for medical use. During a meeting of the Agriculture, Cooperatives, and Natural Resources Committee of Parliament, DPM Lamichhane said that adequate discussions have been held, leaving no doubts regarding the issue.

DPM Lamichhane said, “We are formulating necessary regulations at the earliest to conduct study and research on cultivating marijuana for medicinal and commercial use.” He assured that a study committee would be formed within a month to explore marijuana cultivation comprehensively, considering the social context and monitoring aspects.

DPM Lamichhane reaffirmed that individuals abusing narcotic drugs or involved in smuggling illegal substances would face legal actions. He said, “Some people are serving time in jail while some are involved in the abuse of narcotic drugs and smuggling. We are deeply studying this.”

The parliamentary committee has instructed the government to facilitate legal provisions for the commercial production and study of cannabis. The Agriculture, Cooperatives, and Natural Resources Committee, which met on Friday, issued this directive.

Similar decisions and announcements on plans and actions were taken last year and even before also. But results were not rightly visible so far.

However, this time the Nepal Government has shown deep concerns on this context.

Last year, chairperson of Agriculture, Cooperatives and Natural Resources of Federal Parliament Dr Arzoo Rana Deuba was saying that legal cultivation of Ganja has been a need to discuss among the stakeholders and instruct the Government to take needful actions. Even before that then Finance Minister Dr. Prakash Sharan Mahat unveiling the budget for the forthcoming fiscal year 2080/81, stated the government will study the prospect of marijuana farming for medicinal purposes. The announcement took place during a joint session of the National Assembly and House of Representatives in the Federal Parliament.

It is to recall that, in March, 2020, a private bill was registered at the House of Representatives seeking the legalisation of marijuana, primarily for medical use and for export.

The private bill registered by Sher Bahadur Tamang, then lawmaker and former minister for law and justice, envisions permitting licenced farmers to cultivate and sell cannabis.

Around 50 Lawmakers had signed the proposal lodged to deal in the House of Representatives. This had illegal status since 1973. The US government and world community mounted pressure on prohibiting cultivation, traffic, trade, and made Nepal to formulate laws against Ganja as one of the narcotic products in the said year.

Ganja is known firstly as a strong-smelling plant whose dried leaves can be smoked for a pleasant effect or pain reduction while another way it is described as the most commonly used illicit drug; considered a soft drug, it consists of the dried leaves of the hemp plant; smoked or chewed for euphoric effect.

Old Hindu scriptures believed to be composed thousands year ago describe that Lord Shiva who resides in the Himalayas use Ganja, Bhang, Dhaturo as favourite. The Sadhus who visit Pashupatinath Temple during Shivaratri festival use Ganja freely for their smoking pleasure during their stay. Obviously they use Ganja daily or occasionally.

Since a few years, many parts of USA, Canada other countries have legalised Cannabis which is called Ganja in Nepali keeping in view its medicinal values. Global trading houses and enterprises are investing to produce, process and make profit on it, may be in a well managed manner.

Thus, Ganja banned in Nepal but opened in western countries should be brought into consideration to legalise. Well managed cultivation and processing of Ganja and marketing in the international market can fetch a huge volume of money for the country. As such, time has come for Nepal to revisit to turn it into opportunities of employment and strengthen the economy out of the valuable crop which is used to produce more than 300 different medicines. It is to note that Singhadurbar Baidyakhana, the Nepal government run Aryurved medicine producing unit purchases Ganja from different markets to produce various medicines.

In the United States, the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Under the CSA, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I substance, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use – thereby prohibiting even medical use of the drug. At the state level, however, policies regarding the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis vary greatly, and in many states conflict significantly with federal law.

The medical use of cannabis is legalised (with a doctor’s recommendation) in 33 states, four out of five permanently inhabited US territories, and the District of Columbia. Fourteen other states have laws that limit THC content, for the purpose of allowing access to products that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis.

Cannabis has subject to legal restriction in many countries since the 20th century. Uruguay was the first country to legalise the sale, cultivation and distribution of cannabis. Countries like Netherlands, Jamaica and states of America like Oregon, Alaska and Washington have legalised cannabis and seemed to do fine pulling millions of dollars in tax revenue. In east and Southeast Asia simple possession can carry long jail sentences and sale may lead to life imprisonment or even execution.

As per the reports of 2020, the global legal marijuana market is expected to grow to a $73.6 billion industry by 2027, with the medical marijuana segment accounting for more than 70 percent. The unrefined and unprocessed marijuana market was valued at $9.1 billion in 2019, with more than 88 percent of revenue limited to North America.

Currently around a dozen state of USA have not just legalised medical cannabis, but also its recreational use. Numerous countries across the world. have legalised medical marijuana, with a handful permitting recreational use. Thailand and some other countries are producing cannabis as medicinal raw material while Germany is planning to do the same soon.