History of CBD and Cannabis: Haiti
Nestled in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean sea, Haiti owes its current political attitude towards cannabis to a diverse away of international, historical, and geopolitical pressures.
With one of the lowest human development indices in the Caribbean, Haiti still suffers from the economic and social impacts of brutal colonization in the fifteenth century.
Cannabis, CBD, and Haiti
Before the Columbian era, Haiti was home to Native Americans who arrived from Central or South America. The Hipaniola island was divided among several ruling classes, known as the caciquedoms, along the North, East, and Southern portions of the territory.
It’s believed that Central Americans were the first to introduce cannabis hundreds of years ago. However, there is little evidence for widespread use of cannabis and hemp during this time period.
Of course, cannabis grew to have a larger role in Haiti at the onset of colonial rule. In 1492, Christopher Columbus officially claimed the territory for Spanish rule.
European sailors and imported slaves brought small quantities of cannabis with them in addition to infectious diseases that caused huge epidemics. Most Haitians were confined to dying early or working in gold mines.
In the nineteenth century, the French took a portion of the Haitian territory from the Spanish. As the territory quickly became one of the country’s most lucrative possessions, the French grew to outnumber of slaves by 10 to 1. During this time, the French introduced several European specific strains of cannabis to Haiti, which quickly became popular among the slave population.
Inspired by the French revolution, the Haitians pressed for political freedom, civil rites, and decreasing punishments for cannabis use among slaves. Rebels finally managed to defeat the French in November of 1803, finally leading to the development of modern Haiti.
Since then, Haiti has been subject to occupation by both the Spanish and the United States during the early twentieth century. Former colonial powers went a long way towards stamping out the trade, sale, and distribution of cannabis in Haiti.
Even now, the current government’s policy towards cannabis represents a complex amalgam of historic colonial policies. During the late seventies, the United States pushed anti-cannabis policy on the world through enacting harsh trade sanctions and restrictions. This may have caused Haitian officials to tighten policies towards cannabis cultivation that occurred widely in the eastern portion of the nation.
Even so, Haitian officials are now getting on board with decreased criminalization and cannabis reform initiatives. The heads of major Caribbean nations are currently reviewing the legal status of marijuana, due to religious and human rights issues that have arisen over the last forty years.
Many Haitians are committed to decreasing the precedence of imprisonment for possession crimes, since thousands of residents from impoverished communities suffer from these punitive policies. That said, it will likely take over a decade for substantive reform to hit the conservative country.