History of CBD and Cannabis: Armenia
In February of 2019, the Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan denied a flurry of rumors that the government was planning to legalize or decriminalize cannabis. According to him, cannabis presents a continuous public health concern that no cabinet member should be in support of.
Currently, cannabis is illegal to cultivate, distribute, and consume for recreational and medical purposes in Armenia. Although some hemp and cannabis grows wildly in rural areas, the majority of strains have been eradicated through state-led crop destruction programs.
Over the past few decades, Armenian officials have had a growing concern over the role of cannabis in public life. Marijuana use constitutes a majority of illicit drug use in the country. Yet, despite officials’ concern, Armenia has some of the lowest rates of lifetime use among teenagers compared to every other European country.
All of this begs the question: how has the Armenian government’s overall hostile attitude towards cannabis developed over time?
Cannabis, CBD, and Armenia
Although some cases of cannabis use have been decriminalized in the past, the current policy states that anyone caught carrying marijuana is subject to criminal penalties. Even trace amounts of marijuana could land someone more than two months in prison and result in heavy, recurrent fines.
Even though Armenia serves as a minor trade route for hash coming from Central Asia and headed towards Europe, cannabis use rates continue to be very low. The government is very focused on educational programs and public health services that discourage cannabis use.
Unlike other societies where cannabis grows wildly, Armenia doesn’t have a strong cultural history of hash use within the past century. It’s believed that Soviet occupation directly following the 1918 revolution stamped out the influence of cannabis.
In the early nineteenth century, the Soviet revolution led to occupation in Armenia. The Soviet government had strict policies concerning drug use and distribution, leading many areas in Eastern Europe to have permanently stunted access to cannabis. It was only during the dissolution of the Soviet state in 1991 that Armenia finally became fully independent.
As the Armenian economy has healed since state dissolution, enforcement of cannabis related crimes, including nonviolent drug offenses like possession and trafficking, has increased over the years.
Considering the Minister of Health’s reaction to the widespread rumor of legalization, it’s safe to say that softening cannabis penalization and reform will not occur for a while. It may take international influence and a shifting societal conception surrounding the value of marijuana for a legal change to happen.