Cannabis in Kyrgyzstan is illegal, but the country has a long history with the plant, which is even considered by some to be its ancestral homeland. Despite its illegality, there have been several proposals for reform over the years. In the 1990s, Felix Kulov, who served as Vice President and later Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan, proposed state control of cannabis fields to control the drug trade. In 2014, Jenishbek Nazaraliev, a narcologist and former presidential candidate, proposed legalizing cannabis to reduce drug addiction, gain tax revenue, and undercut organized crime. In 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Tolkunbek Abdygulov suggested legalizing cannabis to improve tourism in the country.
Despite these proposals, the cultivation, sale, and possession of cannabis for recreational purposes remain illegal in Kyrgyzstan. Any possession of cannabis in Kyrgyzstan is illegal and can lead to severe punishment. However, the country has relatively lenient drug policies compared to other nations. In 2016, the government decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, but it remains illegal to grow, sell, or distribute the plant.
Cannabis grows abundantly in the wild in Kyrgyzstan, but despite this, the country doesn’t have high rates of cannabis usage, and its illegal domestic market is relatively small. Kyrgyzstan has a small illicit trade in opium, cannabis, and ephedra, which it produces, as well as in amphetamines. Domestic production of opium is small-scale, and cannabis and ephedra cultivation is far more prevalent and widely-distributed.