History of CBD and Cannabis In: Latvia
Across the world, cannabis laws have liberalized to the point that cannabis and cannabis products (such as CBD) are more available today than at virtually any point in the past century. This has occurred thanks to a massive shift in public opinion and a growing awareness about the potential benefits of cannabis, or at least a recognition that the drug is not as harmful as many first believed.
However, some countries have not moved in this direction, despite the fact that there appeared to be a change in at least some sectors of public opinion which would encourage them to do so. Such is the case for Latvia, a small European country of almost two million people. Marijuana remains completely illegal in the country, despite some interest by the public at legalizing it.
History of Cannabis in Latvia
Cannabis and all other drugs were legal in Latvia until 1922, when the country first began to restrict the use of opium and cocaine. Over a period of the next fourteen years, Latvia’s drug laws became more restrictive until 1936, when the International Opium Convention added all forms of marijuana as part of its restricted substances.
When Latvia became part of the Soviet Union, laws were implemented which added a prison sentence to marijuana smuggling. In 1974, all forms of cannabis use were banned in the Soviet Union.
Marijuana was not widely used in the country during its time in the Soviet Union. However, upon gaining its independence, marijuana use grew, hitting a rate of consumption of 12.4% among 15-64 year olds as of 2007, a number that rose from years prior. Among 15-34 year olds, that rate hit 21.7%.
Despite the fact that marijuana use remains illegal in the country, some reports indicate that the substance is not particularly difficult to obtain, although police have been known to search individuals who they deem look suspicious.
Current Legal Status of Cannabis and Efforts to Legalize
All forms of marijuana use in Latvia remain illegal. Individuals found with less than a gram are subjected to a warning and small fine, but people found with more, or arrested multiple times, can face up to three years in jail, with harsher sentences for individuals who are caught trafficking. Furthermore, the court has the option of ordering drug treatment and suspending the sentence, making Latvia’s punishments relatively progressive.
However, Latvia has resisted efforts to legalize or decriminalize. On multiple occasions, Latvian citizens created petitions to support the decriminalization of marijuana. In 2015, a petition with over 10,000 signatures was filed with Parliament, calling for the removal of criminal penalties for individuals caught with small amounts of cannabis. However, Latvia’s Parliament did not take up the petition.
Medical marijuana is not legal in the country, however, it appears that CBD use is legal.