History of CBD and Cannabis: Azerbaijan
Sitting at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Azerbaijan has always represented an important junction for drug traffickers, users, and distributors. The country occupies one of the most fertile portions of the Southern Caucasus, allowing cannabis to grow both wildly and in domesticated crops for thousands of years.
In fact, it’s likely that cannabis has played a role in the development of the region even before the advent of recorded history. Having been conquered by both the Persian and Ottoman empires, Azerbaijan has inherited a tradition of hashish use for centuries.
Both hemp and cannabis came to known as substances with deep medicinal, social, and cultural properties. Some of the earliest pharmacological texts and medicines in the area had deep ties to cannabis sativa and indica strains.
There’s no doubt that the permeation of cannabis throughout Azerbaijan has had a deep impression on marijuana use throughout the rest of the world. Additionally, the country’s variegated attitude towards cannabis use reflects both modern global movements and historic attitudes.
Cannabis, CBD, and Azerbaijan
Though cannabis played a huge role in traditional medical practices, the establishment of Socialist powers in government sought to restrict cannabis trade and use. Islamic texts referring to cannabis were burned and medical practitioners saw their businesses disappear.
Modernly, there is little formalized cultivation of cannabis. Most cultivation that occurs is in the Southern portion of the country in rural areas. Over the past two decades, many families have turned to illicit production in order to make ends meet; as a global average, one acre of hemp or cannabis is considered thirty times more valuable than one acre of soy.
Throughout the country, much cultivation runs unnoticed and unchecked by officials. It’s difficult for law enforcers to traverse the mountainous regions and rocky terrain that block off secluded cannabis plots.
Ever since Socialist intervention, production has shifted from Azerbaijan to neighboring countries in Central Asia and the Middle East. Turkey and Iran remain major cultivators of hashish, marijuana, and hemp.
Despite losing its role as a cultivator, the strategic geographic location of Azerbaijan has made it an important trade route for drug traffickers. It is considered the meeting point of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, making it incredibly important for international crime syndicates.
Political instability and lack of evenly distributed law enforcement has made the borders of the country very porous, especially around the mountainous regions.
Over time, laws concerning cannabis use have only grown more strict. Mere possession of marijuana could result in up to three years of marijuana. Even as regulation gets tighter, the number of annual cannabis arrests and product seizures have dropped precipitously since 2010.
It’s difficult to say if the country will ever embrace its ties to cannabis again. However, attitudes towards marijuana and CBD are constantly changing, which may open up a nationwide pathway towards legalization and decriminalization.