History of CBD and Cannabis: Côte d’Ivoire
Located on the southern coast of West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast, has played a tremendous role in the production of both cannabis and cocoa over three centuries.
In 1843, the region became a protectorate of France and was formally consolidated as a colony by 1893. This time period was known as the “Scramble for Africa,” when European powers sought to gain as much territory as possible all throughout the continent.
For France, the incorporation of the Ivory Coast represented a huge economic gain. Even in the nineteenth century, the Ivory Coast was known as a production powerhouse for the cultivation of coffee and cocoa. During French rule, colonialists instituted harsh punishments for suspected cannabis cultivation and use among residents.
To this day, the vestiges of colonial rule have played a profound impact on residents’ attitudes towards cannabis cultivation, sale, and trade.
Cannabis, CBD, and the Ivory Coast
After the cessation of colonial rule in 1960, the Ivory Coast had a somewhat distinct trajectory as compared to its neighboring states. During this time period, most states went through frequent and violent political break ups and coups.
However, the Ivory Coast maintained close relationships with Western Powers and France. For over thirty years, the country was ruled by President Felix Houphouet-Boigny who played a significant role in the politics of drug cultivation and decolonization policy. Under his rule, the country found continued economic success and cannabis cultivation had reached an all time low.
During his reign, the Ivory Coast went through one period of economic crisis in the eighties due to the declining global prices for cocoa. The largely market based, agricultural economy struggled to cope as demand decreased, resulting in poverty all along the country.
Many families turned to cannabis cultivation in order to escape the conditions of poverty. In fact, the profit generated on 30 acres of cocoa could be produced by only 0.1 acres of cannabis.
After the president’s death, the country went through several political coups by religious groups. With huge ethnic and linguistic variation, the Ivory Coast has had a hard time unifying into one political identity founded on common values.
Due to political and cultural strain, the government has lacked the ability to implement full cannabis criminalization. Even after cocoa prices surged in 2014, many independent growers still operate along the tropical coasts of the country.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely that the Ivory Coast will be able to formally legalize cannabis. The country’s large populations of religiously conservative residents are vehemently opposed to cannabis consumption. Additionally, the state lacks the administrative resources to successfully vet cannabis cultivation schemes.