History of CBD and Cannabis: Laos
As the only landlocked state in all of Southeast Asia, Laos occupies an interesting strategic geographic position in relation to its coastal neighbors. Throughout the entire country, cannabis is illicitly trafficked from many different surrounding countries.
With a tropical savanna climate and regions that are frequently hit my monsoon, the entire country is favorable for growing water-intensive cannabis crops. However, most cannabis produced in Laos is consumed locally due to recent crackdowns at the country’s borders.
Cannabis, CBD, and Laos
Currently, cannabis is completely illegal for medical and recreational use. Possession is punishable by up to twelve months in prison, while subsequent charges can rack up even higher sentences and fines.
However, even though it’s illegal, many tourist areas feature high availability of cannabis-infused goods. In the urban Vang Vieng, bars openly advertise “happy pizza”, which is enhanced with marijuana or magic mushrooms. Law enforcers either turn a blind eye or take regular donations from well-established bars in order to keep the whole scheme afloat.
It’s not known when cannabis was first introduced to the tropical country; however, many French colonialists remarked on the substance’s widespread use during occupation.
Starting in the late nineteenth century, the French claimed Laos since it would form a strategic buffer between Thailand and islands like Tonkin. During their rule, every male in Laos was automatically registered to work manual labor for at least ten days annually, resulting in surpluses of tin, rubber, and coffee generated for France.
Through a series of local conflicts, French rule was eventually ousted and replaced with Communist government. Like most other communist and socialist states, illicit marijuana is opposed on the grounds that it causes laziness.
Additionally, many government officials are opposed to legalization for a variety of reasons. Some doubt the ability of state infrastructure to implement a fully fledged legal cannabis program. Others oppose cannabis consumption on religious grounds.
In urban areas, law enforcement agencies benefit from the illicit status of marijuana, since both bribery and fines produce a large source of revenue. Drug tourism also helps to promote the health of market economies in major urban areas, as Laos has become well known for its openness to cannabis, psychedelic drugs, and opium.
It will likely take a massive growth in the administrative branches of local government for Laos to be able to support a robust, legal cannabis market. Until then, cannabis use is likely to remain tolerated yet technically illicit.