History of CBD and Cannabis In: Panama
Countries in virtually every region of the world have taken steps to do what would have been considered impossible a mere fifteen years ago: Legalize or liberalize their cannabis and CBD laws. The speed at which this shift in public opinion has occurred is particularly shocking, given the widespread opposition to marijuana and the tough on crime laws as recently as the 1990s.
A few countries have gone as far as completely legalizing cannabis, but a relatively small number have taken such a radical step. What is more common is countries have legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized possession of marijuana or created study commissions. Such is the case in the Central American country of Panama, which has held prolonged debate over legislation to legalize medical marijuana.
History of Cannabis in Panama
Like many countries, Panama outlawed the use and possession of cannabis in 1923. The laws and sentencing have been revised a variety of times, including in 1935, when cannabis was referred to by its local name of “canyac.”
Panama, of course, is most known for the Panama canal, which was once a property of the United States. During that time, the United States military would conduct regular raids and inspections for marijuana going through the canal. A famous book, Marijuana Smoking in Panama (1933), discussed the threat that marijuana posed to members of the United States military. Interestingly, the book noted that marijuana was non-habit forming and did not cause the same problems as alcohol.
The Panama Canal and Panama’s shared border with Columbia have made it a popular spot for drug trafficking. The country’s rate of smoking is a relatively low 3.6%.
Current Legal Status of Cannabis & CBD in Panama
Recreational use of marijuana in Panama remains illegal. Cultivation and trafficking is also illegal. Possession of a small amount of marijuana can land someone up to a year in prison.
Local reports indicate that, although cannabis is illegal, it is very easy to get and the possession of small quantities is not likely to get you arrested or jailed. These reports also noted that a small bribe of local police is often enough to ensure that a person can get out of trouble for their marijuana use, although other reports indicate that drug dealers will sometimes work with police to set up tourists for bribes.
In March 2018, Panama passed a law which set the stage for medical marijuana legalization. However, no such laws or regulations have been enacted which would move the country towards enacting such a program, although it did host a cannabis conference in February 2019 which featured over 60 speakers. The legislation was subsequently sent back to debate due to fear over who would have access to marijuana. Thus, as of yet, medical marijuana has not been legalized in the country.