History of CBD and Cannabis In – Guatemala
The wave of increasing popularity, tolerance and legal acceptance which has occurred throughout the world has impacted virtually every country, regardless of whether or not they, too, moved to legalize cannabis. There is no doubt that public opinion and laws are changing, but these results are particularly interesting when one considers the history and attitudes a country may already have towards cannabis.
Such is the case in Guatemala, a Central American country with a population of roughly 17,000,000. The country has typical prohibitions against marijuana, complete with some particularly stringent sentences. However, starting seven years ago, efforts began which would reduce penalties for use of the drug.
History of Cannabis in Guatemala
Cannabis has been illegal in Guatemala since Decree 1332 of 1932. The country’s position in the middle of central American have forced it to deal with regular drug trafficking from Mexicans cartels. Much of this trafficking has dealt specifically with cocaine, but this likely helps to explain the country’s relatively harsh penalties towards marijuana use.
Current Legal Status of Cannabis and CBD in Guatemala
Marijuana use in all forms – including recreational and medical – remain illegal in Guatemala. Furthermore, while some countries have moved to decriminalize the drug’s use, Guatemala has most decidedly not: Conviction for marijuana possession can result in a criminal record, a jail sentence of 4-30 months and a fine of 200 Quetzales. As you would expect, fines and jail time increase, depending on the severity of the crime, the amount of marijuana someone is caught possessing and whether or not they mean to traffic the drugs.
However, surprisingly enough, multiple sources report that CBD is legal in Guatemala.
The harshness of these laws are somewhat surprising when considered within the context of Guatemala’s constitution (1993), which states that public health is a public good and that the country has a legal obligation to prevent disease and promote addiction recovery – a relatively progressive stance that would seem to be at odds with the country’s harsh sentencing for marijuana use.
Cannabis Reform Efforts in Guatemala
The first conversations around marijuana legalization – or at least decriminalization – began in 2012, when Guatemala’s President, Otto Perez, announced that he wanted to decriminalize marijuana use in the country, even speaking in favor of it in front of the United Nations. Public opinion was at least partially behind Perez at the time, as a poll showed that 41% of Guatemalan citizens agreed with him, but the legislation never went anywhere. Other legislative efforts have attempted to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, but those have never gained enough support to become law.
In 2013, the country formed the National Commission on Drug Policy Reform, which sought to use experts to revise and improve the country’s drug laws. Some advocates argued that the Commission’s final report, published in 2014, didn’t go far enough at making improvements.