History of CBD and Cannabis: Burundi
Burundi, a tiny landlocked country nestled between Rwanda and Tanzania, has had strict policies enforcing penalties on cannabis cultivation, consumption, and use ever since the beginning of the colonial era.
In the beginning of the twentieth century, German colonists began to occupy Burundi. However, Germany’s defeat in World War II caused the territory to be ceded to Belgium, which enacted strict and violent rule over their African colonies.
Burundi only gained independence in 1962 and initially instituted a monarchy that enacted enforcement over cannabis cultivation and use. A series of coups, assassinations of important state figureheads, and widespread poverty ultimately ended up dismantling the monarchy just four years later.
By and large, Burundi officials’ attitude towards cannabis has been defined by its colonial past, international pressures, and policy coercion from surrounding states.
Cannabis, CBD, and Burundi
Currently, cannabis is illegal for both recreational and medical use throughout Burundi. However, even though the country is extremely small, regional instability has threatened the ability of the government to punish cannabis cultivators and users.
In 1977, the United States reported that Burundi endorsed the death penalty for trafficking of cannabis; however, it was never enforced. It was also very rare for officials to properly filter cannabis users through legal channels.
It’s believed that widespread corruption among law enforcers led to an environment of bribery. Many caught using cannabis would pay a small fee to the enforcer, without ever receiving jail time and without the government ever gaining revenue from enforcement.
Slowly, the state is building up its ability to effectively exercise control over residents and their drug use habits. Burundi is now considered a presidential representative democratic republic that relies on many parties to institute reform.
Despite reform, the state is overwhelmingly rural with such a high degree of population density that deforestation, soil erosion, and habitat loss pose a substantial threat. In the wake of political and financial instability, many have turned to private cannabis cultivation schemes in order to escape poverty.
Since Burundi occupies the equatorial region, its climate is nearly perfect for the cultivation of small plots of cannabis. Independent growers are able to make high profits off of very small operations and marijuana crops can reach maturity several times a year.
To put it simply, competition over land and resources has made marijuana cultivation much more attractive for rural growers over the past four decades.
It’s unlikely that the government of Burundi will institute cannabis decriminalization or legalization any time soon. The government is ill-equipped to handle the administrative overhead that fully legal cannabis would require.