History of CBD and Cannabis: Egypt
Throughout the Sinai Peninsula in Upper Egypt, cannabis grows in both wild and domesticated crops. Since 1994, over seven million marijuana plants have undergone the government’s eradication efforts. Though this has been met with huge criticism throughout environmentalist circles, the government is still as committed as ever to stopping the spread of cannabis.
Believe it or not, Egypt was one of the first regions in the world to outright ban cannabis before the modern era. Historic, political, and international pressures have significantly shaped the way that elites respond to cannabis.
Cannabis, CBD, and Egypt
It’s believed that cannabis has been cultivated throughout Egypt for thousands of years. Though it’s not known whether it was used as an intoxicant, the earliest use of cannabis dates back to 3000 BCE, making the region one of the earliest adopters of the plant.
It’s likely that the primary early purposes of hemp and cannabis were to craft thick fibrous materials, such as breathable clothing, rope, and other composites. Hemp was well known as a nutritious food source that could be grown in any season.
For at least the last nine centuries, Egyptians have been cultivating and using cannabis for its psychoactive effect. It’s believed that, in the twelfth century, mystic Islamic nomads spread news about how cannabis could be cultivated for spiritual purposes.
Egyptian Culture and Cannabis
Far from its spiritual roots, cannabis use soon came to be associated with lawlessness, violence, and poverty. Upper class Egyptians believed that Sufis, the spiritual practitioners of Islam, created societal disarray, which promoted leaders to ban cannabis as early as the 14th century.
By the 18th century, hashish and cannabis use was very well spread throughout all economic and social stratums of Egypt. During the French occupation, soldiers used cannabis in the country since alcohol wasn’t legally available. This prompted widespread prohibition just two years later in 1800, causing French soldiers to leave the territory to spread hashish back in their home country.
By 1877, the Ottoman government began bloated eradication campaigns that still inform the government’s policy to this very day. Under the Khedivate of Egypt, cannabis cultivation, trade, and use was once again banned.
Despite the government’s efforts, cannabis has historically been very popular and continues to dominate certain local economies. Frankly, the government has limited ability to mandate cannabis since it’s played such a huge role in the cultural and social practices of Egypt.
Smuggling can still net some traffickers the death penalty while mere possession may result in serious prison time. Even with these measures in place, cannabis is frequently smoked in public cafes or restaurants in rural regions.