History of CBD and Cannabis: Bulgaria
As a former Soviet state, Bulgarian officials’ attitudes towards cannabis reform policy is patchwork and often needlessly complex. After becoming a late adopter of cannabis criminalization, the state has more recently moved to loosen their harsh sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
Cannabis, CBD, and Bulgaria
In early 2019, Bulgaria became the first European state to fully legalize the sale of any CBD product for all purposes. Although most European countries haven’t outright banned CBD, none have ever dropped all restrictions on its sale or the production of hemp crops.
Rather, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Forestry have decided to allow the full permission for agriculturalists to sell CBD-infused products. Now, Bulgaria is defaulting to European Union policy on the issue of border sales and “novelty food” restrictions.
The policy move was seen as especially bold and confusing, considering that cannabis is classed as a very illicit drug in the country. In fact, marijuana is still legally regarded similarly to heroin, cocaine, and amphetamines.
Despite its classification, marijuana has been used openly and widely by the general public for many decades in the country. All the way up until 2004, consumers could carry personal sized doses without receiving any legal penalty.
Interestingly, laws only started to tighten by 2006 when officials criminalized cannabis. Possession of small amounts could land a user six years in prison and a large fine of over 5000 euros.
Unlike other countries, Bulgaria was a comparatively late adopter of marijuana criminalization policies. Part of this occurred due to new conservative officials percolating through the government. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the newly formed state had to take time to define its new stance towards illicit substances while building up law enforcement resources.
Experts believe it’s only a matter of time before the state adopts a broader range of cannabis legalization policies. As a member of the EU, Bulgaria would have to fight a losing battle against the growing trend of European legalization.
In 2015, governmental officials started discussing the possibility of full legalization. However, many are worried that key departments lack the resources to support a fully fledged cannabis market in the country.
Even though public opinion is on the side of legalization, there are many complex statewide issues to figure out. Unregulated yet legal marijuana could increase criminal activity and expose vulnerable populations to underground organizations, rather than solving the untenable issues caused by cannabis criminalization.