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Narcotics law in Nepal: Everything you need to know about

File: Police destroying marijuana plants

The consumption of narcotic drugs in the past few years has been trending in Nepal. The complicated nature of the crime related to narcotic drugs invites the government to control it in the various stages and processes such as production, import, sale, and consumption. In Nepal, the Narcotic Drugs Control Act, 2033 (1976), is the major law to control the production, import, sale and consumption of drugs.

Here is everything you need to know about the narcotics law in Nepal.

Definition of narcotic drugs

Section 3 of Narcotic Drugs Control Act includes the following in the definition of narcotic drugs:

  1. Cannabis/marijuana,
  2. Medicinal cannabis,
  3. Opium,
  4. Processed opium,
  5. Medicinal opium,
  6. Plants and leaves of coca, and
  7. Any substances prepared by mixing opium and extract coca, including mixture.

Acts of crime of narcotic drugs

Section 4 of the Narcotic Drugs Control Act regards the following acts as a crime of narcotic drugs, which is punishable as per law.

File: Narcotic drugs confiscated by police

The acts prohibited by Narcotic Drugs Control Act are listed below:

  1. Cultivation, production, preparation, buying, selling, export, import, trafficking, sortation or consumption of cannabis/ marijuana,
  2. Cultivation of opium or coca or production of opium or coca leaves or other narcotic drugs,
  3. Manufacturing or preparing narcotic drugs,
  4. Selling and distributing narcotic drugs,
  5. Export or import of narcotic drugs,
  6. Purchasing, storing, processing or conducting any trafficking of narcotic drugs

Jurisdiction and burden of proof

An offence related to narcotic drugs is organised crime and has extra-territorial jurisdiction. The Narcotic Drugs Control Act is applicable to all Nepali citizens or foreigners, who conduct the transaction, export or import of narcotic drugs from or into Nepal against the aforementioned act while residing in Nepal, as mentioned in section 2 of the act.

Further, section 12 of the act states the burden of proof is on the defendant, which means that in case any narcotic drug is found to be in possession of any person or if any evidence is found that cannabis/marijuana, opium or coca is being cultivated or had been cultivated on any farm of a person or if any substance that has been partly processed for the manufacture or production of any narcotic drug or any residue left after such product is found to be in possession of any person, such person has the burden of proof to the effect that he/she has obtained or possessed such substance under law. If he/she fails to do so, he/she is deemed to have committed an offence punishable under the Narcotic Drugs Control Act.

Punishment for the offences

Anyone who consumes cannabis/ marijuana shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to one month or with a fine of up to Rs 2,000.

Anyone who cultivates up to 25 cannabis/ marijuana plants shall be punished with imprisonment for up to three months or with a fine of up to Rs 3,000.

Anyone who cultivates more than 25 cannabis/ marijuana plants shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of three years or with a fine from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000.

Five persons arrested on the charge of their involvement in drug smuggling, in Kathmandu, in June 2020.

Anyone who produces, prepares, purchases, sells and distributes, exports or imports, trafficks and stores cannabis/ marijuana shall be punished as follows:

  • With imprisonment for a term of up to three months or with a fine of up to Rs 3,000, if it is up to 50 grams.
  • With imprisonment for a term from one month to one year and with a fine from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000, if it is between 50 and 500 grams.
  • With imprisonment for a term from six months to two years and with a fine from Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000, if it is between Rs 500 grams and 2 kg.
  • With imprisonment for a term from one year to three years and with a fine from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000, if it is between 2 and 10 kg.
  • With imprisonment for a term from two years to ten years and with a fine from Rs 15,000 to Rs 100,000, if it is 10 kilograms or more than this.

Anyone who consumes opium, coca or any other narcotic drugs made therefrom shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to one year or with a fine of up to Rs 10,000.

Anyone who cultivates opium poppy or coca bush shall be punished as follows:

  • With imprisonment for a term of one year to three years or with a fine of Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000, in case of the cultivation of up to 25 plants    
  • With imprisonment for a term from three years to ten years and with a fine from Rs 25,000 to Rs 100,000 in case of cultivation of more than 25 plants

Anyone who commits any other prohibited acts other than consumption of opium, coca, or any other narcotic drugs made therefrom and cultivation of such plants shall be punished as follows:

  • With imprisonment for a term from five years to ten years and with a fine from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 for anyone doing a transaction of the drug up to 25 grams
  • With imprisonment for a term from 10 years to 15 years and with a fine from Rs 70,000 to Rs 200,000 for anyone doing a transaction of the drug from 25 grams to 100 grams.
  • With imprisonment for a term from 15 years to life imprisonment and with a fine from Rs 500,000 to Rs 2.5 million for anyone doing a transaction of the drug in any quantity more than 100 grams.

Anyone who consumes any natural or synthetic narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and their salt and other substances, as specified by the Government of Nepal by a notification published in the Nepal Gazette from time to time, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term up to two months and with a fine up to Rs 2,000 or both.

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Regmi is an advocate associated with Associates Hub Law Firm.

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