History of CBD and Cannabis: Indonesia
Split in half by the equator, Indonesia has an almost entirely tropical climate. The coastal plains average a balmy 28 degrees Celsius and the humidity remains very high year round. Ultimately, these conditions make the dispersed island nation favorable for cultivating, distributing, and trafficking cannabis to the rest of the world.
Indonesian officials aren’t unaware of this fact. The country boasts one of the most restrictive and harsh policies towards all forms of cannabis crime. Mere possession of trace amounts of cannabis can land a user over four years in prison.
Ultimately, Indonesian policy towards cannabis has largely been determined by local enforcement issues, international policy, and a powerful strain of cultural conservatism.
Cannabis, CBD, and Indonesia
Despite decades of violent drug war, many marijuana farmers continue to flourish in the harder to access areas of Indonesia. The Aceh province, located on the northern end of Sumatra, is infamous for its role in the development of both local and global cannabis markets.
Both before and after cannabis restriction, the Aceh province has been popular for locals to visit during vacation. It’s easy for residents to secure access to high quality, cheap weed all throughout the area.
Since Aceh is relatively close to the Indian mainland, it’s likely that cannabis was introduced to Indonesia from India, probably used as a ritualised tool for spiritual transformation. Later on, cannabis spread out of Aceh and to the rest of the Indonesian islands.
Cannabis Legal Status
By the year 1800, Indonesia had been ‘colonized’ by the Dutch, and had effectively been in Dutch control for over century previous to this time through the Dutch East Indies Company. Because of fears of a growing issue of widespread cannabis consumption the Dutch Colonial Government outlawed cannabis in the 1920s, making it illegal to cultivate, possess or consume cannabis.
Despite the independence of Indonesia post World War 2, the Indonesian government has not only continued Dutch Colonial attitudes and laws vs. cannabis, in fact, the government’s policies have only grown more harsh and restrictive. Many residents believe that current policy is completely out of step with the cannabis tolerant culture that remains powerfully present in Indonesia.
The government posits that cannabis is no different from heroin, cocaine, and opioids in terms of its influence on society. It’s not uncommon for locals to be falsely accused, resulting in entrapment and extortion by law enforcers.
Moreover, the government is comprised of entrenched conservative elites that trace their lineage back to mainland China. Decriminalization and legalization remain completely undiscussed in the highest levels of government.
Recently, Indonesia has incurred national criticism due to their policies concerning prison overpopulation. Rather than changing the laws around nonviolent drug use, the government shuffles drug users to rehabilitation centers that are underfunded and often harmful.
In short, it may take a national conversation surrounding cannabis to create any political change in Indonesia.