History of CBD and Cannabis: Brunei
Located on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, Brunei has always had a contentious relationship with illicit drug use. Highly susceptible to trafficking from other Indonesian islands, the major framework guiding Brunei cannabis policy has been penalization rather than harm reduction.
In order to understand the current attitude Brunei officials have towards cannabis, it’s vital to explore how the history of illicit drug production has shaped the island nation.
Cannabis, CBD, and Brunei
Brunei retains some of the strictest policies in the world against marijuana production, sale, and cultivation. Currently, trafficking is punishable by the death penalty in the country. In early 2004, Brunei made waves throughout Southeast Asian media when a Malaysian resident received the death penalty for possessing a large slab of cannabis.
Cannabis is one of the most popular illicit substances on the island. According to statistics published by the UNODC, nearly ten percent of the nation’s youth has experimented with marijuana at least once before turning twenty four. Despite the country’s restrictive policies, this makes Brunei one of the highest per capita consumers of marijuana.
Officials are almost completely opposed to cannabis reform. Among older adults, cannabis is considered hallucinatory, extremely addictive, and responsible for long term adverse effects. Marijuana is largely seen as a societal issue that can wreak havoc on the social welfare of the nation. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see marijuana posited as similar to meth, heroin, and prescription painkillers.
Part of the reason that Brunei is so strict on drug use owes to the religiosity of its population. Sixty seven percent of residents subscribe to Sunni Islam, which completely prohibits the use of intoxicants like marijuana. Christian groups also pose significant obstacles to any possible future attempts at cannabis legalization, decriminalization, and reform.
Aside from Malay influences, Brunei government is highly characterized by its Muslim influences. Islam has largely been adopted as the country’s official ideology and guiding philosophy. Additionally, it is not legal for the press to release direct criticisms of the monarchy and government, which causes marijuana policy to remain largely unchanged.
Even with increasing legalization all over the world, it’s unlikely that Brunei will change its stance towards marijuana and hemp-derived CBD treatments. Religious and cultural influences have created an environment that’s unfriendly to both drug users and distributors.
For cannabis to gain legal status, it would require large overhauls of both the government and conservative cultural environment.