What is cannabis farming and production bill?
The bill, registered in the Lower House of parliament, seeks to regulate and promote the cultivation and trade of cannabis in Nepal. It proposes encouraging farmers to engage in commercial cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. It is not clear whether the bill seeks to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes as well. The bill proposes setting up a board at the centre and agriculture knowledge centres in the districts. These centres can issue licences to farmers for the production and sale of cannabis. The bill proposes restricting farmers from cultivating only cannabis in their farmlands to ensure crop diversification. Likewise, a household can grow up to six cannabis plants without permission. But for engaging in commercial cultivation, the farmer must be of age 18 or above and acquire licence.
A bill registered at Nepal’s parliament to legalize production, sales of cannabis
KATHMANDU, March 3 (Xinhua) — Forty four years after Nepal banned cannabis, a serious effort has been made to lift the ban on the product in the Himalayan country.
Sher Bahadur Tamang, a lawmaker from the ruling Nepal Communist Party on Monday registered a bill at the Nepal’s parliamentary secretariat with the provision of legalizing cannabis for production, sales, medical use and scientific research.
Nepal’s Narcotics Drugs Control Act 1976 has criminalized the sale, cultivation and consumption of cannabis.
“The main reason behind registering the bill to legalize the cultivation and sales of cannabis is that it has proved to be a medicinal plant and it can also contribute to increasing income of Nepali farmers massively,” Tamang, who is also former law minister, told Xinhua on Monday.
“An increasing number of countries have been legalizing its production and sales due to its benefits.”
He said that the developed countries like Canada and many U.S. states have already legalized it.
The bill registered under the name “Cannabis Farming (Management) Act” has proposed for its controlled production and sales in the market.
The bill has proposed that people who want to engage in farming, transportation, sales and exports, should take license from the government authority.
“But, it will not be necessary to take permission to produce textile, feed and oil among others from its fibers and fruits,” the bill states. The bill has proposed an age limit for engaging in the farming of cannabis. “A person below 18 years cannot engage in cannabis farming,” it says.
The bill has further proposed that the Nepali government would have to fix areas where its farming can be done and maximum area a farmer can cultivate cannabis. As per the bill, the farmers can sell the product to a certain agency or firm as recommended by its regulatory agency.
The bill has proposed that the product can be sold to an individual as per the prescription of a doctor. “It cannot be sold to a person whose age is less than 21 years and to a pregnant woman,” the bill says.
Lawmaker Tamang registered a bill as private bill. If passed by the both houses of parliament – House of Representatives and National Assembly, it will become a law.
The Himalayan Times proides a bit more detail
Kathmandu, March 2
The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker and former minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Sher Bahadur Tamang today registered a private bill demanding commercial cultivation of marijuana and cannabis for medicinal purposes.
All kinds of sale, cultivation and consumption of marijuana is legally banned in the country as per the existing Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act 1976, calling marijuana or cannabis a ‘hallucinating drug.’
The act states that medicinal cannabis/ marijuana is a ‘Narcotic Drug’. Therefore, all products made of marijuana are considered contraband.
The bill registered today has the provision that Nepali farmers, who have their own land, should be given licence to cultivate marijuana. Any Nepali citizen, who does not own land but wants to cultivate marijuana for commercial purpose, should take special permit from the government ‘board’ envisioned in the bill. As per the bill, farmers will be allowed to export the most potent part of the marijuana plant that contains the psychoactive component called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Lawmaker Tamang, who registered the bill after researching in the area for months, said that the bill had provision allowing farmers to export marijuana to all those countries where sale/purchase of marijuana is legal.
Farmers can also sell marijuana to patients on the basis of the prescription from Nepal Medical Council registered doctors in the domestic market. Likewise, marijuana can also be sold to pharmaceuticals for manufacturing drugs, Tamang said quoting the bill.
Taking about the usefulness of the plant, Tamang said that farmers could sell the seeds of marijuana plant for extracting oil. The leaves and branches can also be used in garment industries, the bill states. The bill provisions that the THC level of such commercial goods produced from marijuana plants should not exceed 0.2 per cent. However, there is no limitation for THC percentage for other purposes. Lawmaker Tamang said, “Farmer will reap more benefits if their marijuana plants have high percentage of THC, so we will encourage farmers to produce as much potent marijuana as they can.”
Activist Rajeev Kafle, who supported lawmaker Tamang in drafting the bill, said that average potent marijuana in Nepal has THC level from nine to 12 per cent. But, if cultivated properly and scientifically, marijuana with 20 to 22 per cent THC level can be produced in the country.
“There is high demand of marijuana with high THC level in foreign countries that have legalised consumption of marijuana both medically as well as for recreational purpose,” he added.
Similarly, Dr Ratna Thapa, a researcher of marijuana plant in the country, said marijuana could be largely used in the domestic market for production of various pharmaceutical drugs.
Lawmaker Tamang said the bill would not allow rampant production and sale as the government would ask farmers to submit all records of their marijuana saplings and provide detailed report of marijuana cultivation.
“Routine inspection and monitoring of the land used for marijuana cultivation will be carried out by government officials to prevent misuse and smuggling,” Tamang said.
The bill also envisions a 14-member board that comprises high-level government officials from various government bodies including, the Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal Police and other security agencies. “The board will be the apex body that will regulate production and export of cannabis, which I believe will drastically boost the economic condition of farmers in the country,” lawmaker Tamang said.
Spokesperson for Narcotics Control Bureau of Nepal Police Superintendent of Police Birendra Kumar Bashyal said, “We as law enforcement agency will not suggest the government to endorse such a bill as legalising marijuana can promote violence in the country.”
He, however, said that if the government endorsed the bill, the police would be obliged to act as per the law.