Campaigners have demanded that the use of marijuana for medical purposes be legalised.
The Marijuana Medical Society, in a press meet on Thursday, announced a campaign to push for the legalisation of marijuana, also known as Cannabis sativa. The society is organising its first national conference to coincide with the festival of Maha Shivaratri in the capital.
The society says the campaign is aimed to pressurise the government to make marijuana available through doctors' prescriptions, as it works as a painkiller and enzyme that stimulates the appetite. People living with HIV/AIDS suffer a lack of appetite, muscular spasms, and other complications, and the consumption of marijuana could improve their quality of living, said society representative Shibu Giri, who himself is HIV-positive. Further, he claimed, as marijuana is native to Nepal, it could substitute for expensive imported drugs.
A provision of the Drug Act 1975 states that marijuana can be consumed through prescription, but does not specify who is entitled to it and how it should be administered. Giri demanded that the government come up with clear provisions regarding this law.
Basanta Kshitij, secretary of the Confederation of HIV/AIDS, said that marijuana is helpful for patients of chronic conditions like HIV/AIDS and cancer as it stimulates the appetite and works as a painkiller. He demanded the government open access to cannabis. Nikhil Gurung of Recovery Nepal pointed out that marijuana is used to wean people off hard drugs, and has the further benefit of avoiding the risks involved in syringe exchange.