History of CBD and Cannabis: Bolivia
Nestled in western-central South America, Bolivia suffers from recurrent issues over drug trafficking, widespread illicit substance use, and the lack of ability to effectively enforce current policy.
Despite achieving the highest rates of economic growth in Latin America over the past decade, Bolivia is still the second poorest country in all of South America. Rich in natural resources and with a humid climate, Bolivia is well known as a popular cannabis and coca cultivation site among agriculturalists.
Cannabis is currently illegal for both recreational and medical use throughout Bolivia. Those found in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use are often forced to go through drug dependency treatment programs.
Cannabis, CBD, and Bolivia
Much of Bolivia’s stance towards drug consumption has to do with decreasing the economic power of entrenched criminal organizations. In the eighties, the country’s largest crop in terms of market value was coca that could be later refined into cocaine. As the second biggest coca grower in the world, the tiny country supplied nearly fifteen percent of the US cocaine market.
Farmers turned to illicit drug economies, like coca and cannabis production, in order to escape the conditions of poverty. During the eighties, unemployment and inflation soared to record highs, leading to a country wide poverty rate of 38.6 percent.
Cannabis, like coca, grew quickly among the more rural regions of Bolivia that include Chapare and Yungas. Additionally cannabis was considered a cash crop since it could net thirty times as much money per acre as compared to other common plants.
Government attempts to stamp out illicit coca trade and cultivation extended to cannabis production. In 1983, the government began several organizations, like the Coca Eradication Directorate, that were committed to burning many thousands of acres of coca. Interesting, this early effort led to increased cannabis production, until the government stepped in to use similar crop destruction techniques on illicit cannabis cultivation.
Although the eradication schemes had limited effect, the government was able to destroy so many illicit drug cultivation networks due to funding provided by the United States. Between 1988 and 1991, Bolivia worked with the US organization DNCSP that allocated nearly $80 million USD for targeting drug crime and crop cultivation.
However, eradicating cannabis on a larger scale posed a problem. As more cannabis crops were destroyed, local prices would increase, which caused cannabis production to become more attractive to farmers.
Nowadays, Bolivia has not shifted its policy substantially in response to the global wave of decriminalization. Some officials believe that legalizing cannabis would reduce financial strain on the Bolivian government while undercutting the influence of criminal organizations.