As a self proclaimed expert in all knowledge of drinking and smoking, and a former infamous drinker and smoker – this post is as authoritative as authoritative can be. 😉
Ganja and Charas
Ganja (गाँजा) is the toponymic name for Marijuana in south asian countries. Marijuana/Cannabis is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant.
Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae/Hemp family. There are more than 11 genera and 170 species in the Cannabaceae family but when we talk about Cannabis we are talking about three main species: Cannabis Sativa (native to east asia), Cannabis Indica (native to south asia) and Cannabis Ruderalis (native to europe). Fortunately for us South Asians, Cannabis Indica has the highest concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the hallucinogenic component of Cannabis.
But a stoner’s vocabulary should be much wider than that. As an aficionado of joints here is my attempt to delineate every slangs and vocabs associated with Ganja culture:
- Weed, Pot, Herb, Grass, Dope, 420, Skunk, Green, Mary Jane, Jazz Cabbage, Giggle Smoke, Electric Lettuce: Slang terms used to refer marijuana.
- Joint: A joint is a rolled cannabis cigarette.
- Blunt: A cigar that has been hollowed out and filled with marijuana.
- Spliff: A joint prepared with both cannabis and tobacco.
- Rezila: A French brand of tobacco or marijuana rolling paper made from thin and lightweight “rag fibers” (nonwood plant fibers) such as flax, hemp, rice straw etc.
- Herb Grinder: A device specifically designed for grinding or shredding dried marijuana.
- Nuggets: Refers to the individual buds of marijuana.
- Fitlers, Tips, Roach: Small pieces of soft material that are inserted at the mouthpiece end of the joint that gives comfortable inhalation and also prevents inhaling popping seeds of marijuana.
- Pipe, Bow, Chillum: A handheld smoking apparatus typically made of glass, metal, wood, or ceramic.
- Bubbler / Bong: It combines the convenience of a handheld pipe with the added filtration and cooling effects of water.
- Charas, Sticky Icky: Charas is a cannabis concentrate made from the resin of a live cannabis plant.
- Hash Oil, Cannabis Oil: An oleoresin obtained by the extraction of hashish.
- Hashish: Hashish is a cannabis concentrate made from the resin of a dried cannabis plant.
- Puff, Blaze, Toke: Verbs used to describe the act of smoking marijuana
- Dankrupt: Meaning to run out of marijuana.
- Hotboxing: The act of smoking marijuana in a confined space, such as a car or small room, to intensify the effects.
Ganja and 420 / Hippie Trail
In the 1960s and 1970s, Nepal became a popular destination for travelers seeking spiritual enlightenment and a countercultural escape. Along with this influx of Western visitors came the introduction of ganja, a term commonly used in South Asia to refer to marijuana. The hippy trail, a route followed by many young adventurers, stretched from Europe through the Middle East, South Asia, and eventually to Nepal. Nepal’s open and welcoming culture, coupled with the availability of marijuana, attracted numerous hippies who sought spiritual experiences and alternative lifestyles. The use of ganja became intertwined with the hippy trail experience, as travelers embraced the relaxed atmosphere and communal spirit fostered by marijuana use. Nepal has used psychoactive cannabis for centuries, and as early as the 1700s Nepalese charas was recognized as the best available. Nepal was a gateway destination for every Ganja lover. There used to be a street known as Freak Street where Marijuana products were sold openly by licensed agents.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in America, the 420 culture emerged as a subcultural phenomenon. In the early 1970s, a group of high school friends in San Rafael, California, known as the “Waldos,” popularized the term “420” as a code word for smoking marijuana. The origins of the term are linked to their ritual of meeting at 4:20 p.m. after school to search for an elusive marijuana crop.
Today, Nepal’s association with ganja and its historical connection to the hippy trail remain part of its cultural fabric, while the 420 culture in America has expanded into a global phenomenon, symbolizing a shared passion for cannabis and the pursuit of freedom, creativity, and unity. Over time, 420 evolved into a symbol of cannabis culture, celebrated annually on April 20th (4/20) by marijuana enthusiasts around the world. It has become a day of camaraderie, activism, and enjoyment, with events ranging from peaceful gatherings to political rallies advocating for marijuana legalization.
Ganja and War on Drugs
In the 1970s, Nepal faced international pressure, particularly from the United States, to crack down on the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis. In response, Nepal canceled licenses for cannabis shops, dealers, and farmers in 1973. Nepal’s decision to criminalize marijuana in 1973 was influenced by the global “war on drugs” led by the United States, particularly during Richard Nixon’s presidency. The American government aimed to spread its anti-drug campaign worldwide. The Narcotics Drug Control Act of 1976 further solidified the prohibition of cannabis in Nepal, making it illegal to cultivate, produce, sell, distribute, and consume cannabis. Possession of cannabis carried the risk of imprisonment and a substantial fine. However, personal cultivation and use of cannabis continued illicitly. The move disrupted government revenues, leading to attempts at crop substitution in the following years.
Nevertheless, the Act allowed exceptions for the government and authorized institutions engaged in medical or scientific research, provided they obtained a special license. The pressure from Western countries, experiencing their own struggles with drug abuse, led to Nepal’s traditional liberal stance on cannabis being challenged. The history of ganja in Nepal reflects the complex interplay between international pressures, shifting drug policies, and efforts to control drug trafficking and consumption. Over time, the global perspective on marijuana has evolved, with many countries reevaluating their approaches to cannabis and exploring alternative models of regulation and decriminalization.
Ganja and Market Size
The global marijuana market size is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global cannabis market size is projected to grow from $57.18 billion in 2023 to $444.34 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 34.03% during the forecast period.
North America is the largest consumer in the global cannabis market due to legalization in most of the states, strong presence of providers, and huge demand from consumers. Europe is also a significant market for cannabis, with Germany, the UK, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Spain being the major contributors to the market. Despite strict laws against the use and possession of cannabis, Asia is the fastest-growing regional market and is anticipated to register the fastest growth rate of 48.4%. This can be due to the increase in the acceptance of cannabis across different countries in the region. The number of clinical studies on possible uses of cannabis in a myriad of medical conditions can also be a key driver for the regional market. Thailand has been one of the forerunners in legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes in Asia, and other countries in the region are expected to follow suit.
The revenue growth of the marijuana key players in the global marijuana market can be attributed to several factors: Increasing legalization, Expanding consumer base, Cannabis-related tourism, Medical applications, Market expansion and partnerships. Overall, the revenue growth of key players in the global marijuana market is driven by factors such as legalization, expanding consumer base, cannabis-related tourism, medical applications, and strategic market expansion efforts.
Ganja and Medicine
Historically, cannabis has been used in ancient India for both religious and medicinal purposes. Ancient texts from India confirm the recognition of cannabis’ psychoactive properties, and it was utilized by doctors to treat a range of ailments. Insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and pain were among the conditions treated with cannabis. The religious and medical significance of cannabis was intertwined, with philosophers considering it a guardian and attributing various positive effects to its use. These effects included relieving dysentery and sunstroke, clearing phlegm, aiding digestion, stimulating appetite, improving speech clarity, sharpening the mind, and enhancing overall well-being.
Medical uses of marijuana have shown promise in treating various diseases and alleviating symptoms. Some of the recognized uses of marijuana for medical purposes include:
- Nausea and Vomiting: Cannabis has been found to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, making it a valuable tool in cancer treatment.
- Appetite Stimulation: Medical marijuana can help improve appetite, particularly in individuals with HIV/AIDS or those experiencing appetite loss due to medical conditions or treatments.
- Chronic Pain Management: Marijuana has been used as an analgesic to relieve chronic pain, including neuropathic pain and pain associated with conditions like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia.
- Muscle Spasms: Medical cannabis has been found to reduce muscle spasms and stiffness, particularly in conditions such as multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injuries.
- Side Effects of Chemotherapy and AIDS: Certain cannabis-based medications, such as dronabinol and nabilone, have been approved by the FDA to treat the side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea and vomiting, as well as to address AIDS-related weight loss.
- Glaucoma: Marijuana has been found to help lower intraocular pressure, which is beneficial in managing glaucoma, a condition that can cause optic nerve damage and vision loss.
- Neurological Disorders: Marijuana may have therapeutic benefits for neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. It has the potential to alleviate symptoms like tremors, muscle stiffness, and cognitive decline.
- Seizure Disorders: Certain forms of medical cannabis, such as CBD (cannabidiol) oil, have shown promise in reducing the frequency and severity of seizures in conditions like epilepsy, particularly in children.
- Sleep Disorders: Marijuana may aid in improving sleep quality and relieving insomnia, helping individuals achieve a more restful and rejuvenating sleep.
- Autoimmune Conditions: Preliminary research suggests that cannabinoids in marijuana may help modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation in autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis.
Ganja and Recreation or Teetotalism
The use of marijuana for recreational purposes has a long and complex history deeply intertwined with cultural attitudes and social perceptions. In many societies, recreational drug use is seen as a social activity rather than a medical condition. However, drug use, including marijuana, is still heavily stigmatized worldwide, more prevalent in Asian communities like Nepal.
However, in the realm of recreational drugs, marijuana holds a unique position. It is one of the most commonly used substances, alongside caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Some experts argue that certain psychoactive drugs, such as cannabis, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and MDMA, may cause less harm to users compared to alcohol, nicotine and even caffeine. However, all recreational drugs have inherent risks and potential side effects that should be considered.
The debate surrounding the liberalization of recreational drug use, including the legalization of marijuana, has sparked movements and organizations advocating for or against it. Subcultures have emerged among recreational drug users, while alternative lifestyles and social movements, such as “teetotalism” and “straight edge,” have formed among those who abstain from them.
In recent years, concerns have been raised about the increasing consumption of alcohol and club drugs among adolescents and young adults in societies. In Npeal use of multiple drugs is more prevalent among adolescents, and because the consumption of club drugs is associated with criminal behavior and alcohol abuse, it brings even more interesting dynamics in the society.
The influence of recreational drugs can be seen in various forms of art and entertainment, subject to legal and social constraints. Certain music genres, like hip hop and its subgenres, have celebrated drug trafficking, gangster lifestyles, and alcohol and drug consumption. These representations in fiction, entertainment, and the arts reflect the prevalence of recreational drugs in human societies.
Overall, the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is a complex issue shaped by cultural norms, legal frameworks, and ongoing debates. Responsible drug use advocates emphasize safety and advise against using drugs while engaging in activities that require a sober state, such as driving or operating machinery. It is important for individuals to educate themselves, make informed choices, and consider the legal and health implications of recreational drug use.
Ganja and Lord Maheshwor
In Hinduism, the use of marijuana holds a significant historical and religious context, particularly in relation to Lord Shiva. According to Hindu scriptures, during the churning of the ocean by the gods and demons, when the elixir of life “amrit” was produced, Lord Shiva created cannabis from his own body to purify the elixir. Another belief suggests that the cannabis plant sprang up when a drop of the elixir fell on the ground. As a result, cannabis is considered a sacred offering and associated with Lord Shiva and therefore in Hindu rituals, the wise consumption of bhang, a drink containing cannabis, is believed to cleanse sins, unite individuals with Lord Shiva, and prevent future miseries in the afterlife. However, the reckless use of bhang without adhering to religious rites is considered sinful.
The festival of Mahashivaratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva, holds special significance for the use of cannabis. The otherwise illegal use of cannabis in Nepal is tolerated during the celebration of this festival. The use of cannabis-infused food, particularly the drinks, foods, yogurts, sweets prepared with bhang has been a longstanding tradition in Nepal. It is an official drink of the Holi festival, celebrated by the Hindu community in reverence of Lord Shiva. Ancient Indian recipes also recognized the oil-solubility of cannabis extracts, often requiring it to be sautéed in ghee before being mixed with other ingredients.
Ganja and Negatives
The use of marijuana is also argued to have negative effects on physical and mental health. One significant concern is the impaired driving and operational ability associated with cannabis use. While some studies have found an increased risk of accidents among drivers or operating machineries under the influence of cannabis, other studies have not reached the same conclusion. The complexity arises from the fact that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels can vary widely depending on the method of ingestion, and there is poor correlation between THC blood levels and impairment. This poses challenges for law enforcement in accurately assessing impairment in cannabis-related driving cases.
Another area of concern is the potential for cannabis dependence. While the risk of developing dependence on cannabis is lower than that of substances like heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and prescribed anxiolytics, it is still a significant consideration. Cannabis withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability or insomnia, may occur with everyday use but are typically mild and not life-threatening. Short-term use of cannabis can lead to various adverse effects, including dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, and hallucinations. Long-term effects, however, remain unclear. Concerns have been raised regarding memory and cognition problems, the risk of addiction, the potential for schizophrenia in young individuals, and the accidental ingestion of cannabis by children, which can lead to serious complications.
One specific concern is the rise in poisoning cases among children and young people due to the increased availability of edible cannabis products. These products often contain significantly higher levels of THC compared to smoking cannabis, and accidental exposure in children can lead to symptoms such as lethargy, sedation, seizures, and in severe cases, even death.
Overall, the negative effects of marijuana use highlight the importance of evidence-based education, intervention tools, and practical regulation measures to mitigate risks and promote safe use. It is crucial for individuals to be aware of the potential adverse effects of cannabis and exercise caution, especially when it comes to activities such as driving or ensuring the safety of children in environments where cannabis products are present.
Ganja and Farmers in Nepal
Cannabis can be found in the wild in all hilly areas of Nepal. There have been some reports of illegal cultivation in the country. In some rural areas of Makwanpur district in Nepal, a dependency on marijuana farming has emerged among farmers as a means of sustaining their livelihoods. The decision to cultivate marijuana stems from a lack of returns from their traditional maize and millet crops, which have yielded poor harvests due to a lack of fertilizers and challenges in selling produce due to the economic turmoil in the country. With limited income-generating options and a desperate need for sustenance, farmers have turned to marijuana cultivation as a source of income. The lack of availability of chemical fertilizers during the cultivation season and the inability to sell their vegetables have pushed farmers towards marijuana farming. Despite being aware of the legal implications, farmers feel compelled to engage in this illegal activity due to the absence of viable alternatives to sustain their families.
Understanding these dependencies of the farmers, even the local administration had been trying to curb its farming by indirectly denying the local administration services – to discourage its cultivation. The situation is not limited to specific rural municipalities but extends across various wards. Even local leaders, facing financial hardships themselves, have resorted to cultivating marijuana in their fields. However, currently there have been efforts underway to deploy security personnel in areas where marijuana cultivation is gaining momentum. Authorities also aim to apprehend individuals found leasing their land for marijuana cultivation.
The informal dependency on marijuana farming among Nepali farmers highlights the urgency for the government to provide alternative income-generating options and support to these communities. Similar problems persist in many rural areas of the country. The failure to fulfill promises of alternative resources and the lack of necessary infrastructure, such as motorable tracks for transportation and storage facilities for agricultural produce, have contributed to the resurgence of marijuana farming. Addressing the root causes and providing sustainable livelihood opportunities can help break this cycle of dependency and create a more stable and prosperous future for these communities.
Ganja and Industrial Use
Cannabis farming for industrial purposes holds significant value in the production of various commercial products. The term “hemp” is used to describe the durable soft fiber derived from the stalk of the Cannabis plant. Cannabis sativa cultivars with long stems are particularly suitable for fiber production, with some varieties reaching heights of over six meters. Hemp, as an industrial product, encompasses a wide range of applications beyond drug use. It serves as a vital component in tens of thousands of commercial products, including paper, cordage, construction materials, textiles, and clothing. Compared to cotton, hemp is known for its strength and durability. Additionally, hemp is a valuable source of foodstuffs such as hemp milk, hemp seeds, and hemp oil, as well as biofuels. The use of hemp dates back thousands of years, from ancient China to Europe and North America. In recent times, there have been explorations into novel applications and improvements, albeit with modest commercial success. Jurisdictions around the world have tried to define “industrial hemp” referring to cannabis strains containing no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight so as to not encourage production of psychedelic and high-breeds of cannabis.
Ganja and Stoners
Marijuana, with its main psychoactive compound Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has well-known triphasic effects on the mind and body. The primary psychoactive effects include relaxation and euphoria, while secondary effects can involve introspection and philosophical thinking, albeit sometimes accompanied by anxiety or paranoia. Tertiary effects may include an increase in heart rate and hunger, attributed to a psychoactive metabolite produced in the liver. The duration of these effects varies depending on the dosage, method of consumption, and individual tolerance.
When smoked, the immediate effects of cannabis are felt within seconds, fully manifesting within a few minutes and lasting for approximately 1-3 hours. On the other hand, oral ingestion results in delayed onset (30 minutes to 2 hours) but prolonged duration due to slower absorption. However, even after the acute effects subside, minuscule psychoactive effects may persist for up to several days depending on various factors. Cannabis use has subjective effects that vary among individuals and can include alterations in consciousness, relaxation, stress reduction, increased appreciation for arts and music, enhanced recollection, heightened sensory awareness, and increased creativity. However, anxiety and paranoia are commonly reported negative side effects, particularly in inexperienced users or unfamiliar environments. Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown potential in alleviating anxiety associated with cannabis use.
At higher doses, cannabis can lead to altered body image, distortions in time perception, auditory or visual illusions, and impaired reflexes. In some cases, acute psychosis and dissociative states may occur, but they typically subside within hours, although heavy users may experience symptoms for an extended period.
One well-known effect of cannabis is the increased appetite, often referred to as the “munchies.” Studies have shown that cannabis enhances food enjoyment and stimulates interest in food, possibly by affecting hunger-related neurons. Additionally, cannabis edibles, which take longer to digest, have delayed but longer-lasting effects compared to inhalation methods. The potency and timing of the effects can be influenced by the specific food or drink used.
Ganja and WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) has not taken a clear stance on marijuana legalization. However, WHO has published several reports on the potential health effects of marijuana use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), WHO recognizes that marijuana use can have both therapeutic and harmful effects. WHO has also acknowledged that marijuana use can lead to dependence and other negative health outcomes.
The negative effects of marijuana use have been well-documented by various organizations. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) warns that marijuana use can have real risks that can impact a person’s health and life. Heavy marijuana use can impair several important measures of health and quality of life, including physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, social life, and career status. Additionally, marijuana use can lead to abuse and dependence, and other serious consequences.
Despite the potential risks of marijuana use, public opinion in the United States has shifted towards legalization. According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in October 2022, an overwhelming share of U.S. adults (88%) say either that marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use by adults (59%) or that it should be legal for medical use only (30%). Only 10% of respondents said that marijuana use should not be legal.
In conclusion, while WHO has not taken a clear stance on marijuana legalization, it has acknowledged that marijuana use can have both therapeutic and harmful effects. Various organizations have warned about the potential negative health outcomes of marijuana use, including dependence and impaired quality of life. Despite these warnings, public opinion in the United States has shifted towards legalization.
- Prevalence and Attitudes Regarding Marijuana Use Among Adolescents Over the Past Decade
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- Americans overwhelmingly say marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use
- Know the Negative Effects and Risks of Marijuana Use
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana
- Measuring the Criminal Justice System Impacts of Marijuana Legalization and Decriminalization Using State Data
On December 2, 2020, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) made several decisions regarding the international control of cannabis and cannabis-related substances. Cannabis has been included in the schedules of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 and the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971, which determine the control measures that states must apply to these substances. After a review by the Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, the World Health Organization (WHO) submitted eight recommendations on cannabis. The CND decided to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention but kept them in Schedule I, subject to all levels of control.
- Schedule I: This schedule includes substances that are considered to have a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical value. They are subject to the strictest control measures.
- Schedule IV: This schedule specifically pertains to cannabis and cannabis resin. Substances listed in Schedule IV are considered to be particularly dangerous and harmful. They are subject to the most stringent control measures, including severe restrictions on production, distribution, and use. The presence of cannabis and cannabis resin in Schedule IV indicates the highest level of control and international prohibition.
The recent decision by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV means that these substances are no longer classified as highly dangerous and harmful. However, they still remain in Schedule I, indicating that they are subject to control measures and regulations.
Ganja and Other Countries
The legal status of cannabis, whether for medical or recreational use, varies across countries, encompassing possession, distribution, cultivation, and consumption regulations. These policies are often governed by international treaties, including the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. While cannabis was descheduled in 2020, it is still classified as a Schedule I drug under the Single Convention, allowing for medical use but recognizing it as an addictive substance with a significant risk of abuse.
Recreational use of cannabis is generally prohibited in most countries, although some have implemented decriminalization measures that make simple possession a non-criminal offense, comparable to a minor traffic violation. In contrast, other nations impose severe penalties, with certain Asian and Middle Eastern countries enforcing imprisonment for possession, even in small quantities. However, there are countries that have legalized recreational cannabis, including Canada, Georgia, Malta, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay, certain U.S. states, territories, the District of Columbia, and the Australian Capital Territory. Commercial sale of recreational cannabis is fully legalized in Canada, Thailand, and Uruguay, as well as in subnational jurisdictions within the United States, except for Washington, D.C. Several countries, such as the Netherlands, have adopted a policy of limited enforcement, permitting the sale of cannabis at licensed coffeeshops.
Regarding medical use, numerous countries have legalized the medical application of cannabis. This includes Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Other countries have more restrictive laws, allowing only specific cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals, such as Sativex, Marinol, or Epidiolex. In the United States, while 38 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized medical cannabis, its use remains prohibited at the federal level.
Ganja and NDCO & Prisons Stats
According to the Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act of 2033, several acts related to cannabis/marijuana are prohibited. These include cultivating, producing, preparing, purchasing, selling, distributing, exporting, importing, trafficking, storing, or consuming cannabis/marijuana. The penalties for these prohibited acts vary depending on the severity of the offense. Under this Act, the Government of Nepal is the plaintiff in all cases, and these cases are considered part of Schedule 1 of the Government Cases Act, 2049.
If a person is found consuming cannabis/marijuana, they can be punished with up to one month of imprisonment or a fine of up to two thousand rupees. Cultivating up to twenty-five cannabis/marijuana plants can lead to a punishment of up to three months of imprisonment or a fine of up to three thousand rupees. Cultivating more than twenty-five plants can result in a three-year imprisonment term or a fine ranging from five thousand to twenty-five thousand rupees.
Regarding production, preparation, purchase, sale, distribution, export, import, trafficking, and storage of cannabis/marijuana, the penalties are as follows:
- Up to three months of imprisonment or a fine of up to three thousand rupees for quantities up to fifty grams.
- Imprisonment ranging from one month to one year and a fine from one thousand to five thousand rupees for quantities between fifty grams and five hundred grams.
- Imprisonment ranging from six months to two years and a fine from two thousand to ten thousand rupees for quantities between five hundred grams and two kilograms.
- Imprisonment ranging from one year to three years and a fine from five thousand to twenty-five thousand rupees for quantities between two kilograms and ten kilograms.
- Imprisonment ranging from two years to ten years and a fine from fifteen thousand to one hundred thousand rupees for quantities of ten kilograms or more.
In certain circumstances, if a person is found to have purchased or possessed cannabis/marijuana without a commercial motive and in a small quantity, or if they have consumed only a small dose for the first time, the Narcotic Drugs Control Officer may withhold prosecution. The person would be required to sign a bond undertaking not to commit such an offense again. Similarly, if the court deems the offense to be of a petty nature and it is the person’s first offense, they may be released without punishment after signing a bond.
The statistics revealed in the Fiscal Year 2078/2079 report are disheartening, reflecting the harsh reality of our correction centers. Out of the total 26,240 prisoners across the country, a staggering 18-20% of them are incarcerated due to Narcotic Drug-related issues. Although the report does not provide a detailed breakdown of the specific charges related to cannabis, it is reasonable to assume that a significant portion of this population is held for marijuana-related offenses. This realization begs us to ponder the inhumanity of imprisoning individuals for the mere possession or use of small doses of marijuana, especially considering the shifting global attitudes towards its use.
Across the globe, there has been a notable change in the perception of marijuana, with many countries and jurisdictions revising their laws and adopting more lenient approaches. The recognition of its potential medicinal benefits and the acknowledgment that criminalizing small-scale marijuana use disproportionately affects marginalized communities have driven this shift in tone. By contrast, imprisoning individuals for minor marijuana offenses not only perpetuates the cycle of incarceration but also fails to address the underlying issues related to drug abuse effectively.
Ganja and Ganja Bill in Parliament of Nepal
Sher Bahadur Tamang, a former member of Parliament in Nepal (4 March 2018 – 18 September 2022) led an effort to legalize cannabis cultivation and use in the country. Nepal had previously banned cannabis cultivation under pressure from the United States government, resulting in the impoverishment of communities that relied on it as a cash crop. The ban also led to the formation of a nexus between the police and politicians, potentially contributing to the rise of the Maoist insurgency.
In the same year, before Tamang filed the bill in the Parliament in February of 2020, Nepal Communist Party lawmaker Birodh Khatiwada, also a former health and population minister who represented a constituency in Makawanpur district, had registered a motion of public importance at the Parliament Secretariat for a discussion on legalizing marijuana cultivation. Forty-five lawmakers of other ruling parties seconded the proposal. However the bill faced opposition and never came to be an Act.
But recently, Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat hashed out the details of the government’s fiscal plan for FY 2023/2024 which led the previous lawmakers making the effort to pass the bill through parliament and maybe there will be a need to put this bill again at the table of the parliament for discussion and deliberation.
- ‘Highly anticipated’: Activists stoked as government announces feasibility study plan for medicinal marijuana
- गाँजा खेतीलाई नियमन तथा व्यवस्थापन गर्न बनेको विधेयक, २०७६
Some Key Points of the Marijuana Bill, 2076 were as follows:
- “Ganja Cultivation (Management) Act, 2076” is aimed at regulating and managing the cultivation of marijuana in Nepal.
- The bill defines important terms such as license, license holder, production, farmer and farmer group, executive director, ganja, prescribed, inspector, board, ministry, label, and committee.
- The bill requires obtaining a permit for the cultivation, transportation, sale, distribution, and export of marijuana. However, there are exemptions for cultivating a limited number of cannabis plants for domestic use and for certain industrial purposes. No requirement for license for domestic growing of 6 plants per house or for farming THC 0.2% or less for fiber, cloths or similar industrial products.
- The government will determine the designated areas and maximum cultivation areas for marijuana through a notice in the Nepal Gazette. Farmers without land can obtain permission to cultivate marijuana by renting government-owned or other private lands with approval.
- Farmers and businessmen need to submit applications for permits, including necessary details and documents, to the respective authorities.
- Permits are issued based on investigations and the fulfillment of requirements. The license holders must comply with the conditions and regulations outlined in the Act. The duration of a license is one year, and it needs to be renewed annually. License holders must apply for renewal within a specified timeframe. The permit can be revoked if the licensee violates the Act or conditions mentioned in the permit. The licensee has the right to provide an explanation before revocation.
- Farmers are required to affix labels containing specific details on the packaging of marijuana products. License holders for processing marijuana and manufacturing food or medicinal items must adhere to labeling regulations related to food and drugs.
- Labeling requirements: Packaging of cannabis products must have the license number, quantity of cannabis, warning label, and production details. Further requirements are to be as per prevailing laws.
- Record-keeping is mandatory for farmers and license holders, including details of cultivation, production, sale, distribution, and export. The Board needs to be provided with monthly or annual records.
- The Cannabis Regulation Board is established to monitor and regulate the cultivation, sale, and distribution of marijuana. The Board consists of various members, including representatives from government ministries, law enforcement agencies, and industry associations. The Board has various responsibilities, including suggesting policy and legal reforms, monitoring cultivation and sales, conducting research, creating awareness programs, and setting purchase and sale prices.
- Inspectors are appointed to ensure compliance with the Act and regulations, conduct inspections, provide guidance to farmers, and maintain records.
- The Board has its own fund, which includes government contributions, license fees, royalties, and profits from sales. The fund is used for infrastructure development, research, administration, and other specified purposes.
- Offenses related to cultivation, sale, distribution, labeling, advertising, and other violations of the Act can result in imprisonment and fines.
- The bill repeals certain sections of the Narcotic Drugs (Control) Act, 2033.
Ganja and Other Drugs & Alcohol
When comparing marijuana to other drugs, it is important to consider various factors such as legal status, potential for addiction, and cognitive effects. The legality of cannabis varies across countries, with some allowing for medical and/or recreational use, while others prohibit its use entirely. However, the perception of marijuana as a gateway drug has been a subject of debate. Some argue that the use of marijuana can lead to the use of harder drugs, while others believe that this association is not substantiated by scientific evidence.
In terms of its medicinal value, not all strains of marijuana possess proper therapeutic qualities. The presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, is crucial for determining the plant’s medicinal potential. It is suggested that only plants with the appropriate THC content should be permitted for cultivation.
Research on cannabis is often complicated by the concurrent use of other recreational drugs, such as alcohol and nicotine. Comparatively, other drugs like tobacco and alcohol have their own set of risks and effects. For example, the combined use of alcohol and cannabis can have synergistic effects, influencing the absorption of THC and potentially intensifying its psychoactive impact. Furthermore, the surveys indicates that cannabis use is often accompanied by the use of other substances, such as alcohol, amphetamines, or ecstasy.
It is worth noting that the effects of different drugs on cognitive function vary. Some studies have demonstrated that long-term cannabis use can result in short-term memory difficulties, but these effects tend to dissipate within a few weeks of abstinence. Meanwhile, other studies have shown that heavy marijuana use can be associated with neurocognitive impairments even after a month of not using the drug.
Ultimately, when comparing marijuana to other drugs, it is important to consider their individual characteristics, risks, and potential benefits. Each substance has its own set of effects, legal considerations, and potential consequences for long-term use.
Additionally, the cost of marijuana is comparatively low, making it affordable for most individuals. Therefore the distribution and use of marijuana are therefore centered on both poor and rich communities in Nepal. And because it is affordable the sale and distribution of marijuana are not typically controlled by any single organized criminal groups like other narcotics such as morphine, heroin, or cocaine.
Ganja and Why I love It
In conclusion, when it comes to my love for marijuana (formerly of course, I am a teetotalist now, the sober renegade), I must say it was a love affair like no other. While other drugs tried to woo me with their flashy promises and fleeting highs, marijuana had always been there, steady and reliable, like a loyal friend. With its unique blend of relaxation, introspection, time dilation and cravings for snacks, marijuana has a way of turning an ordinary movie evening into a cosmic adventure. So, while others may debate the merits of different substances, I’ll proudly declare my undying love for marijuana, because let’s face it, life was just a little bit better when I was floating on a cloud with good vibes.
So Stay high, if you want to, my friends, but cautiously !! High on Life of Course, no wrong ideas – see Ganja and NDCO & Prisons Stats section above.