Nepal moved a step closer to the legalization of marijuana with the registration in the national parliament of the “Marijuana Cultivation Regulation and Management in Nepal” bill. The private bill, tabled by former law minister Sher Bahadur Tamang in the federal lower house on March 2, is aimed at enhancing the country’s economy by exporting marijuana. The rearing and trading of the drug has been illegal in the country since 1973. APEX talked to some senior citizens who were around when marijuana was legal: What do they make of the new legalization debate?
Bimala Rimal Koirala, 65
I am against legalization. I cannot see my children smoke weed and get high. If machines can handle the whole cultivation and production process, than legalization is fine. But if people are involved, it will negatively affect the society. I saw many foreigners get high when it was legal. They would engage in various inappropriate behaviors that made me uncomfortable. This, I fear, could happen again.
Durga Bhakta Shrestha, 62
Marijuana is a cash crop. It has various medicinal uses and has been used since ancient times. Yes, some people are misusing it. But with proper rules and regulations in its production and consumption, it can greatly benefit the country’s economy. Foreigners as well as more foreign currency will enter Nepal. I still remember the time of the Hippie culture when Kathmandu had become a darling of foreigners. I think marijuana should be legalized with proper rules and regulations in place.
Hira Kaji Shakya, 68
The consumption of marijuana has various negative health effects. Misuse of marijuana has brought disaster to countless lives, both young and old. Instead of thinking of legalizing and selling it to other countries, our government should further tighten anti-marijuana rules.
Usha Lamsal, 68
Exporting marijuana produced in our country will be to our benefit. It will help the country earn foreign currency, and create countless jobs. It should thus be legalized. But there should be strict rules and regulations against its misuse. If they promote indulgence instead of benefits, it will harm the society.
Pancharatna Shahi, 64
I have never liked people who smoke marijuana. I have seen young boys smoking and getting high near the local river. If the government legalizes it, more innocent boys and girls will be addicted, which will destroy their careers and lives. It should not be made legal. I had seen foreigners smoke weed when it was legal in Nepal. Though they smoked, there was little violence. But times have changed; today’s youth are easily influenced and can be very violent.
Tirtha Maya Maharjan, 76
Marijuana is said to have medicinal values but I have only ever seen people use it for recreational purpose. But, remember, alcohol harms our body as well, but it is still legal. If marijuana can indeed be used to cure diseases, it should be made legal. But first there should be clear-cut and strict regulations.
Basanta Raj Lamsal, 70
I have been following the news about the recent parliamentary bill, and I support it. Our economy will flourish if we can sell our organic marijuana across the world. But we should have the right regulation. Certain areas should be designated for cultivation, and only under the supervision of concerned authorities. Inside the country, the buying and selling of marijuana should be limited to a certain age and quantity. With proper rules and regulations in place, legalization of marijuana seems beneficial.
Chandra Devi Shakya, 78
Young people can still be seen getting high on marijuana, though it is now illegal. If the government legalizes it, marijuana will be still easier to get, and hence promote addiction among the youth. No, it should not be legalized.
Gopal Khadka, 73
There are pros and cons of everything in the world. Marijuana too has its advantages and disadvantages. Various countries like the US and Germany have legalized it. Our government too should develop proper plans and policies on the consumption and production of marijuana. Exporting marijuana will help the economy. The important thing is to keep the public informed about marijuana production and consumption.
Vairabh Kunwar, 71
Marijuana is a valuable crop in the international market. If we can sell it abroad, our farmers will benefit. It could also attract Nepali youths into agriculture. Instead of going abroad they could then do something productive in their own country. The government should acknowledge both positive and negative aspects of marijuana and make its plans and policies accordingly. Done right, this could change the fate of both our farmers and our country. So, on the balance of things, I think the government should legalize it.