For hundreds of years, the cultivation, production and selling of cannabis was a lucrative source of income, enabling decent livelihood in Nepal. With suitable climatic conditions and fertile land, the cannabis plant grows freely in many parts of the country and on different altitudes. This enables the existence of many types of cannabis available in Nepal and in a good quality. The consumption of cannabis was never brought into question in the past, as people used the plant frequently, as part of their daily lives. Cannabis contributed to many religious rites and practices, as well as provided a good alternative for medicine, thanks to it healing capabilities.
With the opening of Nepal to foreign visitors in the 1960’s, the production of cannabis continued and flourished thanks to the popularity and interest from the visitors. Nepal was known as heaven for the people who knew how to enjoy this powerful plant. Many young visitors used to visit Nepal and were able to benefit from its consumption. Freak Street, a narrow lane just next to the Kathmandu Durbar Square, used to have vendors who would freely sell the herb. There were shops called ‘Your Old & Favorite Hashish Centre’ and the cheap price and good quality of marijuana used to invite thousands of members of the hippie movement who were buying it in great quantities. However, in 1976, the fairytale ended. Mostly under the pressure from the government in the United States that was worried for its youth turning into drug addicts, Nepal was compelled to ban the usage and sale of cannabis. The effects of the ban were disastrous: many of the visitors left and the tourism industry was hit, farmers lost a lot of cash crop and the trading of the herb went completely underground which criminalized it. Today, marijuana is legal for medical purposes, although details about the dosage and frequency of the allowed consumption are unknown. Even though the laws in Nepal are lax, the consumption of the plant is prohibited.
One exception to the rule is during the festival called Maha Shivaraatri dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. On this day, thousands of people go to one of the biggest temples in Kathmandu – the Pashupatinath temple and freely consume marijuana, together with the religious hermits called “sadhus”. For the sadhus, the consumption of marijuana is part of their belief and practice of religion. As such, they do not represent any problem to the police, since their use of cannabis is part of their religious rights.
For the absurdly cheap price, the quality of cannabis in Nepal is pretty impressive. A reason for that might be that the marijuana is grown outdoors, and the potency of the various strains depends on growing conditions and techniques used on the crop. Some of the cannabis strains from Nepal are world renowned. Large quantities are exported to many other countries regularly.
There is no outlook on when the ban of marijuana will be lifted in Nepal. It’s been years since cannabis has been legalized in many parts of the world, including in some states in the USA. Until it is legalized, visitors can easily buy cannabis, although illegally. For the real lovers of marijuana, it is always a good idea to explore the rural areas of the mountainous region in Nepal and discover the different, local varieties of this magical plant!