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Cannabis laws in Nepal

Cannabis laws in Nepal

Table of contents

Medical: limited 
Recreational: illegal

Cannabis has been deeply intertwined with Nepal’s history and culture for centuries. In fact, the plant has played a significant role in religious and spiritual practices, particularly in Hindu rituals. Traditionally, the consumption of cannabis in the form of bhang, a cannabis-infused beverage, was considered sacred and widely accepted in India and surrounding countries. 1

However, with the advent of global drug control treaties in the 20th century, Nepal, like many other nations, introduced stricter regulations regarding cannabis. The government enacted the Narcotics Drugs Control Act in 1976, classifying cannabis as an illegal substance and implementing penalties for its possession, cultivation, and sale.

Penalties for cannabis offenses in Nepal

Nepal maintains stringent laws when it comes to cannabis. Possession, consumption, cultivation, or sale of cannabis is considered a criminal offense under the Narcotics Drugs Control Act. Offenders may face imprisonment ranging from 10 to 20 years, depending on the quantity involved and the severity of the offense.

While the law is strict, enforcement can vary in different regions of the country. In some areas, such as the western district of Mustang, where cannabis grows naturally, the local authorities have implemented more lenient policies due to cultural and historical considerations.

Medical cannabis in Nepal

In recent years, Nepal has shown some openness to exploring the medical benefits of cannabis. In 2018, the government amended the existing legislation to allow for the cultivation, production, and distribution of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. This marked a significant step toward recognizing the therapeutic potential of cannabis-based treatments.

The law allows for licensed cultivation and processing of cannabis for medical use under strict regulations. Qualified patients can access cannabis-based medicines through authorized healthcare providers, ensuring proper oversight and quality control.

CBD is not explicitly addressed in Nepal’s current legislation. So while it’s not subject to the same legal restrictions as THC-rich cannabis, its status remains somewhat ambiguous. The availability and legality of CBD products may vary, and it is advisable to consult local authorities or legal experts for accurate and up-to-date information.

The cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes is strictly prohibited in Nepal. However, the government has allowed for licensed cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes, as mentioned earlier. The controlled cultivation ensures quality control, standardized production processes, and adherence to regulatory guidelines.

Possible future of cannabis legalization in Nepal

The future of cannabis legalization in Nepal remains uncertain. While the country has taken steps toward legalizing medical cannabis, there is limited discussion about broader decriminalization or legalization for recreational use.

Advocacy groups and some lawmakers have called for the revision of cannabis laws, emphasizing the potential economic benefits, including tourism and export opportunities. However, any significant changes to the legal landscape would require careful consideration and deliberation by the government and relevant stakeholders.

Bottom line on weed in Nepal

It is important for visitors and residents to be aware of Nepal’s strict cannabis laws and the associated penalties. The legal landscape surrounding cannabis is evolving globally, and Nepal may adapt its policies accordingly. As the country navigates the complexities of cannabis laws, it is essential to stay informed about any legal updates or changes to ensure compliance with Nepalese regulations. Understanding the legal landscape surrounding cannabis in Nepal will help individuals make informed decisions and navigate the country’s laws responsibly.


  1. Shakya, D. R., Upadhaya, S. R., & Thapa, M. (2021). Cannabis Use and Abuse in Nepal: A Review of Studies. JNMA; journal of the Nepal Medical Association, 59(241), 954–961. https://doi.org/10.31729/jnma.6931
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