In a move that has been hailed as a watershed moment in the country's history, the government of Nepal has announced plans to conduct a feasibility study for the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. This announcement, made by Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat during the presentation of the government's fiscal plan, has been met with widespread approval from activists and lawmakers alike, who see it as a significant step towards the legalisation of cannabis in Nepal.
A Long-Awaited Decision
The decision to explore the potential of medicinal marijuana cultivation did not come out of the blue. It is the culmination of years of sustained advocacy and lobbying efforts within Parliament. In 2020, a bill seeking the legalisation of cultivation and consumption of medical marijuana was registered in Parliament. Although the bill did not make significant progress, it laid the groundwork for the government's recent announcement.
The Potential of Medicinal Marijuana
The global marijuana market is expected to be a $73.6 billion industry by 2027, with the medical marijuana segment accounting for more than 70 percent. With this in mind, the cultivation of medicinal marijuana could potentially boost Nepal's economy significantly. It is scientifically established that cannabis has high-value medicinal use in preparing a wide range of drugs to treat migraine, headache, pain, insomnia, and anxiety.
The Road Ahead
While the announcement has been met with widespread approval, there are still many hurdles to overcome. The government must navigate the complexities of regulation and control to prevent misuse and the potential influx of organised crime. Former Deputy Inspector General Hemanta Malla Thakuri cautions that permitting the cultivation of marijuana without proper regulation could be problematic. Sound policies and robust regulation will be crucial to the success of this initiative.