History of CBD and Cannabis: Brazil
Brazil’s complicated and long history with cannabis has had a long lasting impact on the world’s marijuana market. Ever since the New World was colonized by European settlers, Brazil has played a tremendous role in the development of specific cannabis strains, smoking culture, and the global cannabis trade.
Currently, marijuana is illegal and not yet decriminalized; however, possession of small amounts of cannabis technically carries no penalties. Like other South American countries, Brazil’s youth has high rates of marijuana use yet the government takes a relatively conservative stance towards cannabis reform.
In order to understand the complex lattice of drug law and cultural norms in Brazil, we’ll have to dive into how cannabis found its way to the country.
Cannabis, CBD, and Brazil
In the early nineteenth century, cannabis was introduced to Brazil by Portuguese colonists. Hemp and cannabis were both valued for their ability to make composite materials, fabrics, and nutritious foods. Although it was originally brought over to make specific fibers for sailing, many slaves en route to Brazil already knew about the psychoactive properties of cannabis.
At this time period, it’s believed that most Europeans were unaware of the intoxicating effects of cannabis, due to the continent’s generally cold agricultural climate that bars the development of THC in the hemp plant.
Many slave owners allowed their slaves to plant marijuana during the off season or when soil turned fallow. During this time period, African and European strains of cannabis met for the first time, forming dozens of unique breeds with distinct properties that spread all through the continent.
Ultimately, widespread slave use led to complete prohibition in the capital of Brazil by the year 1830. However, consumption was only banned among the slave population, since smoking cannabis seemed to interfere with their productivity.
Even during prohibition efforts, cannabis became a strong facet of many Brazilian settlers and slave descendants lives. Angolans, as well as Quicongo and Quimbundo slaves, would hide cannabis seeds in the hull of the slave trading ship until they reached land.
Hundreds of years later, cannabis is still associated with its roots. Cannabis use is primarily associated with the poor, primarily non-white Brazilians.
In the twentieth century, more specific action was taken to target nonviolent drug offenders in the lower classes. By 1930, marijuana was no longer openly or even secretly tolerated by most legal departments.
It would take another thirty years for marijuana to regain its former popularity among most social and economic classes of Brazilians. The psychedelic era of the ’60s, along with American cultural influence, inspired many young people to experiment with cannabis.
Now, the Brazilian government is taking tentative steps towards integrating cannabis into traditional medical markets. One CBD-based medication, Sativex, is now legal for patients with debilitating seizures to use with a prescription.
In the future, it will be interesting to see how the culture of cannabis use in Brazil further drives marijuana reform.