History of CBD and Cannabis: Libya
Located in the Maghreb region of North Africa, Libya is a vast stated bordered by Egypt to the east and a vast swathe of the Mediterranean Sea.
In February 2011, Libya experienced a full scale, student-led result in the wake of the Arab Spring. Young citizens were frustrated by decades of censorship, brutal repression, and poor economic conditions experienced under military leader Maumumar Gaddafi.
In less than five months, Gaddafi was killed by revolutionaries after four decades of complete control. Since then, Libya has been pitted into lawlessness, poverty, and two different civil wars.
No one put it better than former government official Ahmen Al-Hani, who stated, “My generation, the next generation, is gone – society as a whole has disintegrated.”
Since NATO and the UN forces evacuated Libya, the continuous lack of centralized state power has resulted in the proliferation of cannabis trafficking, distribution, and cultivation throughout the country. Local militias and international crime syndicates populate major city centers, enacting their political will while supplying cannabis to poor Libyan residents.
In some ways, Libya’s transforming relationship to cannabis provides insight into how the country has progressed through different political control.
Cannabis, CBD, and Libya
Currently, cannabis is illegal for recreational, medical, and industrial purposes in Libya. Despite this, it’s extremely common for residents to openly smoke cannabis in public establishments, especially in the more rural areas. Typically, law enforcement either turns a blind eye to personal consumption or some officers may attempt to extract bribes from locals.
As the nineteenth largest nation in the world, Libya encompasses a broad expanse of land in Northern Africa. Although the country is mostly hot and dry in the arid Libyan Desert, the Northern portion of the nation favors a more temperate, wet environment along the Mediterranean; this is where most cannabis cultivation occurs.
It only took a matter of weeks after the death of Gaddafi to pivot the state into complete lawlessness. Transnational criminal organizations maintain rigid control over the area and crush any form of local resistance.
In order to escape poverty and hopelessness, many young people are driven to connected criminal organizations. In Libya, criminal cannabis trade is the only promise for a better life. Travelers from Chad, Niger, and Egypt travel into Libya through the country’s very porous borders, further driving the development of illicit cannabis sales.
Transnational criminal organizations use trade routes that existed before the 2011 collapse of the Libyan state. In fact, some of these routes have been around for hundreds of years after the Spanish first introduced cannabis to the region.
It’s unlikely that Libya will have the political stability to fully legalize marijuana any time soon. It would require complex, loyal administration from distinct state health and agriculture departments.