246. Telegram 1751 From the Embassy in Nepal to the Department of State and the Mission to the United Nations1 2


  • Narcotics Control—Nepal


Geneva 2606; B. Kathmandu 1611

1. GON still in process of carrying out studies to determine economic impact of ban on ganja cultivation and possible government programs that might be adopted to offset economic hardships resulting from ban. Preliminary surveys were completed in six districts in western Nepal, and survey team is scheduled to leave shortly to carry out similar studies in Terai (ref B.).

2. Study of six districts in western hills area indicates that in all districts, except Sallyan cultivation of hemp ranks second as source of income. Hemp was not as important in low lying areas where it was relatively easier to grow other crops, but in areas of higher elevation hemp was found to be major crop. Hemp was found in both wild and cultivated state. Where cultivated, one seeding was sufficient for five to six years of crops. In addition to production of hashish from hemp plant, farmers used plants to make sacks, clothes, ropes, roofing, and edible oils. Report indicates that no farmers were completely dependent on cultivation of hemp, but that many made living from three to four months of year from hemp. Loss of income resulting from ban on cultivation was estimated at 25 percent to 35 percent.

3. Loss of income from hemp production was seen as particularly serious problem since western hills districts under best of circumstances are among poorest in Nepal. Farmers depended on cash income from hemp to buy salt, some food supplies, and to pay land taxes. Moreover, hashish dealers also served as local moneylenders, providing advances and loans, a service now missing since cultivation and commerce in hashish was prohibited.

4. Given dispersion of settlements, report concludes that assistance can only be handled through wide variety of small programs. As most of people affected by ban in western part of Nepal live at higher altitudes, foodgrains could not serve as substitute crop. Report therefore recommends encouragement of sheep farming, horticulture, and cultivation of potatoes. Other potential sources of income include cultivation of herbs; establishment of cottage industries such as baskets, blankets and rugs; paper production from local plants and grasses; and livestock farming. Construction of small public works such as irrigation canals, bridges, and roads was proposed as an immediate source of employment and income for people in areas primarily affected by ban.

5. Report concludes by stating that hashish is harmful for general use and that ban on its cultivation was timely step. Ban has however created two principal problems in that supplies of hashish are required for use as medicine and people in some areas of country are deprived of major source of income. As suggested course of action, report recommends that government should provide for collection of hashish in limited and necessary quantities; that cultivation of hemp should be permitted for end-uses such as cloth, ropes, fuel wood, and edible oils; and that alternative occupations must be found for people affected by ban.

6. Embassy’s judgment is that chances for passage of narcotics legislation in summer session of Panchayat are now uncertain. GON has not yet been able to assess real impact of ban and some government officials and politicians are known to be unwilling to take any action on narcotics legislation until some means found to offset economic hardships. Moreover, there is opposition to legislation from landowners particularly in Terai some of whom are members of national Panchayat, who have found ganja cultivation to be lucrative. Embassy is continuing to do all possible to enhance possibility of favorable action of legislation in summer session of Panchayat.

7. Please tell Dittert that under circumstances we think best tactic for Sir Harry to follow in his statement is to hold GON feet to the fire by speaking in expectation of early passage of basic drug legislation. Thus Sir Harry could refer with appreciation to earlier statements of GON officials affirming GON intention to adopt basic narcotics legislation and say that he looks forward to enactment of a basic narcotics law at the July session of the national Panchayat and that this will lay essential groundwork for an effective drug control system in Nepal. Even though prospects for adoption of basic drug law in July are uncertain as noted above, we believe U.S. and UN reps should follow tactic which forces GON to recognize that positive action on its part in drug field is anticipated by the international community.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files. Limited Official Use; Priority. It was repeated to Geneva. In May, the Embassy transmitted a policy statement containing a similarly pessimistic warning that the Nepalese Panchayat (royal legislature) was reluctant to pass legislation on hashish production. (Telegram 1948 from Katmandu, May 8; ibid., Central Files 1970–73, SOC 11–5 Nepal)
  2. The Embassy updated relevant officers on the state of anti-narcotics activities in Nepal, given increasing evidence of widespread cannabis cultivation and the attendant export of hashish and hashish oil.