Nepal might be revoking its marijuana ban as lawmakers consider returning to liberal drug policies that made the Himalayan hill station popular on the “hippie trail”. 

Thousands of backpackers used to visit Kathmandu, in Nepal, around half a century back, to buy potent strains of hashish from government-licensed stores on ‘Freak Street’, which got its name due to visiting long-haired foreigners. 

However, all this stopped due to Washington’s war on drugs and the pressure they put on foreign countries. Nepal closed their government dispensaries and put a cultivation ban in place, forcing farmers to rid themselves of cannabis plants. 

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Western countries are now taking a softer stance towards marijuana, even legalizing it, which has prompted Nepal lawmakers to claim that they should stop criminalizing a cash crop that has significant ties to the nation’s cultural and religious practices. 

Nepal’s Health Minister Birodh Khatiwada told Agence France-Presse, “It is not justifiable that a poor country like ours has to treat cannabis as a drug”, adding, “Our people are being punished… and our corruption increases because of smuggling as we follow decisions of developed countries that are now doing as they please.” 

The country has also backed a campaign which was successful in making the United Nations remove cannabis from the list of most harmful drugs. 

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Enforcing the current cannabis ban in Nepal is a slippery slope, as foreigners aren’t likely to face much persecution, and law enforcement also looks the other way on the annual day of celebration, in honour of the Hindu deity Shiva. However, in some parts of the country, penalties are harsher as dealers face up to ten years in prison, and cops destroy thousands of cannabis plants each year, AFP reported. 

In the global market, however, ‘Himalayan Gold’ a strain originating from Nepal, continue to be extremely popular, showing that if the nation legalizes marijuana, it would benefit from growing the cash crop, and supplying it elsewhere in the world.