History of CBD and Cannabis: El Salvador
Home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in Latin America, El Salvador is no stranger to the persistent problems of illegal cannabis use, cultivation, and trafficking. Even though the country is small, its geographic proximity to Honduras continues to heighten the precedence of the drug economy throughout the region.
Cannabis, CBD, and El Salvador
Cannabis is currently illegal for both recreational and medical use, cultivation, and distribution throughout El Salvador. In 1988, the country signed onto the United Nations Convention against Illicit Trafficking, which caused officials to quickly criminalize cultivation of marijuana.
As one of the most conservative countries in South America, El Salvador officials are resistant to the idea of increasing decriminalization or legalization efforts. Despite this tendency in the elites and political classes, it’s estimated that over 17 percent of El Salvadoran youth have tried cannabis at least once.
Due to widespread mass incarceration, the question of legalization has increasingly cropped up throughout the country. It’s estimated that the majority of residents are in favor decriminalization, although the vast majority are against full legalization. In a bold move, the Protestant Church signed on to support decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis for personal use.
Interestingly, only 8 percent of Salvadorans support legalization measures. Since a majority of the population identifies as religiously conservative, many voters’ opinions are determined by their cultural upbringings.
Conservative religious culture first started to infiltrate El Salvador during the era of European settlement. Through marrying together Mesoamerican traditions with Spanish settlers, many Salvadorans identify with a Mestizo or blended cultural background.
Before the colonial era, cannabis was used ritualistically by the Mesoamerican populations inhabiting the region of El Salvador. However, after settlement, the Spanish enacted harsh restrictions against cannabis use due to historic religious intolerance of intoxicating substances.
More modernly, a nexus of geopolitical and international pressures have created the foundation for a strong anti-cannabis voter base and polity.
During the seventies and eighties, the United States introduced anti-cannabis regulations that would have a major impact on the global marijuana market. Latin American countries like El Salvador would receive economic sanctions if officials perceived the country wasn’t doing enough to stamp out the drug trade.
Nowadays, it’s unlikely that El Salvador will enact full legalization any time soon. The overwhelmingly conservative and religious population is against most substantive cannabis reform. It may take decades to undue to international regulations that continue to play a role in national cannabis policy.