The ruling Communist Party of Nepal on Sunday tabled a motion calling on the government to end the ban on cannabis and ban the import of alcohol.

The motion, led by legislator Birodh Khatiwada and signed by 45 other Members of Parliament, notes that more than 65 countries, many of which pushed for cannabis prohibition through international treaties in the 1970s, have already legalized or decriminalized the plant in some form.

He said that the mountainous terrain of the Himalayan country is suitable for cultivation and that allowing farmers to grow it would greatly benefit those who are poor.

The legalization of cannabis will help poor farmers and since most of the western world, which pushed for prohibition in the first place, has already lifted the ban, Nepal should also lift the ban,” Khatiwada said. “Cannabis has multiple uses. It is also used to earn foreign currency and to produce medicines.

Nepal has been one of the only countries to fight against the United States and the campaigns of the international community to criminalize cannabis use worldwide. Indeed, Nepal had a strong cannabis industry long before the United States, with licensed cannabis shops, official cultivation, and public consumption sites until 1973 and the withdrawal of commercial licenses under international pressure.

Cannabis in Nepal

Nepal banned cannabis in 1976 with its Narcotics (Drugs) Control Act. Users are punishable by one month in prison, while traffickers by up to 10 years.

The country also did not adopt the 1961 UN Single Convention until 1988, with a special derogation so that it could continue to issue temporary permits for the cultivation, processing, “non-medical” cultivation of cannabis and its sale. As the exemption has no expiry date, it is therefore technically still in force.

Nepal was the last country to defend the medicinal values of cannabis in the international arena,” Rajiv Kafle, a Nepalese cannabis activist and HIV patient, told the Kathmandu Post last year. “As no one objected to Nepal's reservation, a review by the World Health Organization should have taken place to examine our allegations.

If Nepal legalizes, the country will join neighboring Thailand in opening up to cannabis. The proposal must, however, be debated in parliament before any changes are made to existing laws.

Nepal has been known for its cannabis since the 1960s, a staple of the hippie scene. Although it is still illegal, it is consumed very openly during the festival of the Hindu god Shiva, which will take place on 21 February 2020.

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