History of CBD and Cannabis: Estonia
Located on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, Estonia gained its political consciousness during the era of Russian occupation. In response to border skirmishes, Estonians banded together to form an economic, social, and national identity.
After the October Revolution in 1917, Estonia became incorporated into the Soviet Union. Although most countries did not formally recognize the USSR’s claim to Estonia, much of the country’s current attitude towards cannabis is a result of Soviet influences.
According to the United Nations, Estonia is one of the top thirty countries in terms of cannabis consumption per capita. Official records state that 6 percent of the population regularly smoke cannabis. In accordance with orthodoxy and conservative influences, over 93 percent of Estonians are completely against cannabis use and over eighty percent are against legalization.
Cannabis, CBD, and Estonia
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Estonia has had to redetermine its political identity for the modern era. Decades of Soviet rule had gone a long way towards dismantling the country’s economic independence, which resulted in a situation of widespread poverty and hopelessness in the nineties.
Nowadays, the orthodox, largely Russian population subscribes to policies of complete cannabis criminalization. Decades of stigma and international pressures have stamped out all substantive debate concerning cannabis.
Many officials still believe that legalizing cannabis will result in disastrous consequences for the public. Anyone caught growing or trading cannabis can be imprisoned for over three years.
Even with a huge body anti-narcotics policy in place, Estonians still die in record numbers of overdoses. The growing number of opioid and fentanyl deaths in the early 2000s caused many activists to call for cannabis legalization.
In some ways, the new conversation surrounding marijuana has resulted in some substantive changes. It’s currently legal for residents to possess up to 7.5 grams of cannabis. Public consumption is only considered a petty crime, resulting in small fines and sometimes only warning citations.
Interestingly, one small municipality known as Kanepi voted to design its coat of arms after a cannabis leaf.
The choice wasn’t merely random, either. Winning over dozens of other designs, more than 15,000 local voters favored the leaf as a symbol of economic independence from international powers. Historically, hemp production played a major role in the development of Estonia. Used in shipbuilding and fabrics, hemp cultivation only subsided due to international economic pressures prohibiting its trade.
Despite the large population of cannabis users in Estonia, it’s unlikely that the government will introduce large reform in the next few years. Culturally, Estonia is largely religious and traces its narcotics policy to Soviet influences.