By Emily Ledger
Members of Parliament in Nepal have introduced a new bill that would establish a formal medical cannabis sector and refine the existing hemp cultivation guidelines. Nepal has become well known around the world for its relaxed stance on cannabis, as the plant grows wild in many parts of the country.
The Cannabis Cultivation Act put forward by MP Sher Bahadur Tamang, has gained over 40 signatures from legislators. The Act contains a number of motions that would help hemp and cannabis cultivators in Nepal.
For example, cultivators would not require licenses for hemp that is to be used for food products and industrial purposes. This would include hemp seeds, oils, and drinks, among other products, as well as construction products. In addition, the sale and distribution of these products would not require a special license.
Currently, the cultivation and processing of the plant is technically illegal in Nepal. However, hemp plants grow wild in the country, and the Narcotic Drugs Control Act allows the use of these wild plants. Many in the country find the guidelines and laws confusing and a number of MPs recently called for the legalisation of cannabis cultivation, which many rely on to make a living.
Limitations of the Cannabis Cultivation Act
Although the Act would make it easier for hemp growers to cultivate, and process and sell products from their crops, the new rules would come with some limitations. For example, the proposed bill would set the THC limit of hemp crops at 0.2%. This limit follows current EU guidelines on THC content in hemp plants.
Critics believe that this limitation would actually hinder cannabis cultivators in Nepal. They indicate that, in order to reach these levels of THC, crops would require years of breeding from imported hemp. According to the CEO of
Setting THC limits on hemp should not be considered until Nepal’s genetic landraces have been properly researched, according to CEO and Co-founder of Nepal’s leading hemp company, the country’s wild crops should be properly researched before THC limits are set.
Dhiraj K. Shah, SHIV’s CEO and co-founder of SHIV, claims:
“This law would only lead to the import of certified 0.2% THC seeds, destroying our genetics even before we could discover their potential. This is what happens when underdeveloped countries make laws under the influence of developed countries.”
Wild hemp crops have been utilised in Nepal for hundreds of years. However, due to a lack of technical infrastructure and unclear laws, the sector has remained under-developed. These “wildcrops” have never officially been tested for THC content.
Although the EU’s official limit on THC in hemp crops is set at 0.2%, some EU countries implement differing limits. For example, in Italy, THC concentrations of up to 0.6% are tolerated. In addition, the EU is rumoured to increase its recommended limit to 0.3% THC in the near future.