Cannabis in Bhutan


Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal substance in Bhutan and grows everywhere even if nobody takes care of it

It is likely that cannabis was established in Bhutan after the end of the last glacial period, about 11,700 years ago.

In the first years of the 21st century, the incursion of foreign cultural elements such as television introduced the concept that cannabis could be used for its psychoactive effects, which induced consumption among young people.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is located within the jaws of the Himalayas, between China and India. The small country was closed to tourists until the early 1970s, when it became part of the United Nations. Since then some hotels and roads have been built, but in moderation. Satellite television officially arrived in 1999.

Before talking about marijuana, it is interesting to know that in 1729 Bhutan became the first country in the world to impose restrictions on tobacco. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited, and anyone who wishes to smoke must purchase a license to do so in designated areas. Even then, smoking tobacco is very frowned upon.

However, despite the position of the inhabitants on smoking tobacco, the country’s climate is ideal for marijuana. Ironically, cannabis grows legally throughout the kingdom. But smoking is prohibited and is used as food for pigs. But the image of Bhutan valleys full of marijuana is a spectacle. And in this country cannabis grows like weeds.

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal substance in the country and grows everywhere even if nobody takes care of it. The inhabitants of eastern Bhutan call it Phakpa nam, and it is a food for pigs. In other places pigs are also fed cannabis. Marijuana flowers make pigs have a voracious appetite and also become quieter. It is the perfect food! Cannabis has always existed in this country, but it was not a problem.

A farmer explains that they usually beat cannabis seeds and flowers to mix them with tea. These farmers, who barely have contact with Westerners, believe that tea is fun because it has psychoactive effects. They are not aware of the effects of marijuana.

A peasant from a small village explains that at night fleas were a nightmare. She and her friends found a solution. This solution occurred in the 1970s in the town of Punakha. These women took the fresh cannabis leaves and let them dry and then smoke them. They say the smoke made fleas not bite them.

In Bhutan the plant has been consumed for a long time. The first reported case, according to Kuensel records, was in 1991, when a ton of marijuana plant was seized from Shingkhar Lauri and burned in public.

Since then, the authorities began to seize marijuana and the cleaning of marijuana fields became a common voluntary activity. According to a report on the mental health status of adolescents in Southeast Asia, Bhutan has the highest number of teenagers currently using marijuana, with 12 percent.

Today they already know that cannabis has many attributes. In Bhutan there are a lot of cannabis plants, whose leaves, oil and seeds are used in many different ways. Now they know that different parts of the plant can be used, and that more and more governments are approving scientific studies on the medical benefits of marijuana.

This is not new for the people of Bhutan. The village elders say that the stem of the plant is used to make Bindi, a piece of cloth to wrap things and that it is used as transport bags. When the bags were scarce, the bark of the plant strips off the fiber. It is a strong fiber. Hemp or marijuana fiber is the most robust, durable and natural fiber. If Bhutan can market it, the plant that is now a problem for the authorities could be a blessing.

And, of course, young people smoke marijuana in Bhutan. There is nothing they like as much as the smell that the smoke gives off from a good joint. Although they don’t have smoking paper, they use newspaper or chillums. The only problem is that if you get caught smoking pot in Bhutan, you face about eight years in prison.

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