What is your answer to people who think the ban should stay and legalisation will lead to ‘mafiaisation’?
If a national governing board monitors cannabis cultivation and collection for medical purposes, we will be able to take the product to the international market, create opportunities for foreign investment, and also generate employment nationally for farming and processing. Of course, the government will require that cannabis farmers and suppliers be licensed.
There is the possibility of ‘mafiasation’, as you say, if we are only talking about recreational cannabis. However, the amount of money that can be earned from the medicinal product will far exceed the amount that would be earned from recreational sales. Moreover, cannabis will be the foundation through which Nepal can make the jump to other products in the future.
What do the people of Rukum, Rolpa and Makwanpur, and also your own constituency in Sindhupalchok, say about your draft bill?
The bill does not allow farmers to convert their entire land for cannabis cultivation, just a portion of it. If, for instance, farmers use a certain part of their land to cultivate marijuana, they will not sit idly by watching the plants grow while the rest of their land remains untilled. They might grow other food grains or vegetables on the rest of their property. And what they will not eat, they will sell, bringing in income. They will not need to leave home and head for the Gulf for employment.