Is weed legal in Nepal? An Overview of Narcotics Legislation in Nepal

With the drugs fiasco fueling around Bollywood, questions about our own legislation in relation to narcotics consumption, procurement etc., have become a query amongst a lot of people. Looking to address such queries, this article deals with a basic overview of narcotic legislation of the country.

The Narcotics Drugs (Control), 2033 (1976) (hereinafter referred to as the “Act”) is the only national legislation governing the narcotics control in Nepal. On the international legislative front, Nepal is a member to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, a framework for the international control of narcotic drugs, and a state party to the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988, a framework against drug trafficking. On the regional level, Nepal has shown its commitment towards SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1990. 

The Act covers cannabis (including medicinal cannabis), opium (including processed and medicinal opium), plants and leaves of coca, any substance prepared by mixing opium and extract coca, and any natural or synthetic narcotic drug or psychotropic substances and theis salt as specified in the Nepal Gazette, under its definition of narcotic drug.

In addition to defining the prohibited narcotic drugs and cannabis, among others, the Act concisely incorporates the areas of authorized use and procurement of such drugs. Regarding the applicability, the Act clearly specifies the extra-territorial applicability whereby, Nepalese citizens and foreign citizens, conducting supply transactions of narcotic drugs from or into Nepal, shall come under the purview of this Act. 

What is prohibited?

The Act prohibits the possible cultivation, production, preparation, sale, distribution, procurement, export/import, conduct of any trafficking, consumption, possession, storage of cannabis/marijuana, opium, coca leaves and other narcotic drugs, under normal circumstances. However, pursuant to Section 5 of the Act, consumption of narcotic drugs for medical purposes as per the recommendation of a medical practitioner shall not be prohibited. 

Punishment Provisions 

Type of Narcotic Drug


Calculation of crime 





Up to one month, or

Up to two thousand rupees


Up to 25 plants

Up to three months, or

Up to three thousand rupees

More than 25 plants

Up to three years, or

Five thousand to twenty-five thousand rupees

Production, Preparation, Procurement, Supply, export/import and storage

Up to 50 grams

Up to three months, and

Up to three thousand rupees

50 grams to 500 grams

One month to one year, and

One thousand to five thousand rupees

500 grams to 2 kilograms

Six months to two year, and

Two thousand to ten thousand rupees

2 kilograms to 10 kilograms

One year to two years, and

Five thousand to twenty-five thousand rupees

More than 10 kilograms

Two years to ten years, and

Fifteen thousand to one hundred thousand rupees

Opium, Coca and any other narcotic drugs made therefrom


Up to one year, or

Up to ten thousand rupees


Up to 25 plants

One year to three years, and

Five thousand to twenty five thousand rupees

More than 25 plants

Three years to ten years, and

Twenty-five thousand to two hundred thousand rupees

Production, Preparation, Procurement, Supply, export/import and storage

Up to 25 grams

Five years to ten years , and

Five to twenty-five thousand rupees

25 to 100 grams

Ten years to fifteen years, and

Seventy-five thousand to two hundred thousand rupees

More than 100 grams

Fifteen years to life imprisonment, and

Five hundred thousand to two million fifty thousand rupees

Any natural and synthetic drugs and psychotropic substances, their salt or other substances


Two months, or

Up to two thousand rupees


Commission of any prohibited acts, other than specified 

Two years to ten years, and

One hundred thousand to two million rupees


The Act further entails the punishment provisions for following activities:



Permitting prohibited acts in one’s property

Imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years, or a fine of up to ten thousand rupees, in addition to possible confiscation of such property

Involvement in conspiracy, attempt, abetment or being an accomplice in an offence

Half the prescribed punishment due to an actual offender

Conducting transaction of any other substances(s) as if it were narcotic drugs

Half the prescribed punishment due to an actual offender 

Not providing the particulars or documents related to narcotic drugs

Half the prescribed punishment due to an actual offender

Repeatedly committing an offence

Prescribed punishment in addition to an imprisonment term up to 5 years and a fine of up to one hundred thousand rupees. 


Also, Section 18 of the Act legislates the confiscation of the narcotic drugs related to the crime. In addition, as per section 18A of the Act, any property earned from cultivation, production, preparation, selling, distribution, import or supply, purchase, storage, possession, trafficking or consumption of narcotic drugs, other than cannabis, shall be confiscated.

The Act provisions for the reward to the informer, who informs of the transaction or use of narcotic drugs to the Narcotic Drugs Control Officer (“Officer”), which leads to the proving of offence, whereby such offender is imposed a fine.

Procedural framework

As per Section 7 of the Act, the Officer is vested with the authority to issue warrants for the arrest and search, upon the reasonable belief about commission of any offence punishable under the Act. Furthermore, Section 8 of the Act legislates that the Officer may enter and search any building, land, vehicle, or any other place, seize all narcotic drugs and related materials, and search and arrest any person committing the offence, without a warrant. This provision shall prevail only in the event where the offender may escape or if the evidence of the offence is likely to be destroyed.

Upon reasonable belief of an offence, the police shall initiate a case against the alleged offender, which shall be tried in the concerned district court. However, such cases shall adopt the procedures provisioned under the Special Court Act. 

It is important to note that Section 19 of the Act grants the Officer with the power to withhold prosecution against anyone who is found to have purchased or possessed a small quantity of cannabis/ marijuana or who has consumed only a small dose for the first time, after keeping a record of such person. 

Is the law adequate?

Although the Act has prohibited the possession of narcotic drugs including cannabis, it doesn’t explicitly cover the aspect of possession under the punishment provisions. This, in turn, raises the situation of dubiety regarding the punishment for the possession of narcotic drugs. If the possession is to be covered under the commission of any prohibited acts other than the specified illegalities, the punishment range with minimum two years of imprisonment and a fine of hundred thousand rupees could be unreasonable, as compared to the punishment range for storage, procurement and such. Thus, considering the ongoing practice of proceeding a case of narcotics possession under adjacent offences such as storage, procurement, trafficking etc., the Act needs to update the clear provisions regarding the possession of narcotics.

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