News Activists seek legal marijuana in former hippie haven Nepal

Activists seek legal marijuana in former hippie haven Nepal

Widely available marijuana once drew thousands of hippies to Nepal, where its use was not only accepted but embedded in both the culture and religion.

But the country followed other nations in outlawing marijuana in the late 1970s and chased away the hippies who came on buses from Europe and United States.

Half a century later, campaigners are seeking to again legalize the farming, use and export of marijuana as more countries allow its medicinal and recreational use.

Supporters have introduced a bill in Parliament that would legalize marijuana, although debate has been delayed by continuing squabbles between political parties for power.

“We are demanding the legalization of marijuana in Nepal firstly for medicinal purposes for patients who are dying,” Rajiv Kafle, a campaign leader, said at his “Hippie Hill” retreat in the mountains surrounding the capital, Kathmandu

Kafle, who lives with HIV, said marijuana helped him cope with pain and kept him away from alcohol and other drugs.

Marijuana use is widely accepted in Nepal. It was freely farmed and attracted Western hippies in the 1960s and 1970s. However, pressure from Western governments made Nepal introduce laws making marijuana and other narcotics illegal.