The government delayed tabling the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse (NDPSS) Act of Bhutan, as it is considering the medicinal benefits of cannabis oil and its economic benefits, according to Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji.

He said this in response to the Drametse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi’s question on when the government is submitting the Bill for amendment. Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, during the presentation of the State of the Nation report last year, said that the government was going to table the Act for amendment.

The foreign minister said: “The lack of expertise in the country, called for international experts to study the possibilities and the requirements to legalise marijuana for medical use.”

He said that the commercialisation of marijuana worldwide was popular. “There are benefits of the cannabis oil from a health perspective, and we had further discussions considering its potential to boost our economy.”

Currently, in the NDPSS Act, cannabis is on the list of narcotic drugs with no medicinal value.

The Act states that cultivation, domestication or harvest of cannabis and its derivatives is illegal.

Foreign Minister said that there was a different infrastructure requirement to derive cannabis oil for medical purposes. “What is available in the wild will not serve a medical purpose.”

He informed the House that once the pandemic situation improves and international experts can visit the country then the Act would be tabled. “We need to study carefully. We cannot just amend the Act alone; some changes might be required in the Penal Code of Bhutan as well.”

By Chhimi Dema 

Edited by Tshering Palden