History of CBD and Cannabis: Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands, located near the equator in the Pacific ocean, is both a United States associated state and a sovereign state. Though its status confuses many, the island nation maintains a strong independent identity. Recently, government officials in the territory have opened up a discussion on the potential for substantive cannabis policy reform.
Cannabis, CBD, and the Marshall Islands
Cannabis is illegal for all purposes in the Marshall Islands. In 1987, the possession, sale, cultivation and distribution of cannabis was deemed illicit under the Narcotic Drugs Act.
Originally, the Marshall Islands were coerced to adopt strict marijuana regulations due to mounting international pressure. In the seventies and eighties, the United States began a War on Drugs campaign that was subsequently pushed upon the rest of the world.
However, unlike many other nations at the time, the Marshall Islands government opted for a tiered system of punishment for possession. Most others countries created blanket punishments for carrying even the smallest portions of cannabis.
On the islands, the minimum punishment for carrying trace amounts of cannabis is one year in prison and fines that range from $1000 to $5000 USD. Second offenses can land an unlucky user up to fifteen years in prison and a $50,000 USD fine. Modernly, these laws have remained largely unchanged for all forms of cannabis crime.
History of Cannabis Policy in the Marshall Islands
As a member of the United Nations and Pacific Community, the Marshall Islands drug policy has been largely determined due to American involvement. In 1965, the US government formed a plan that would increase the self-governance of Pacific islands; however, much of this resulted in islands creating policies that mirrored American sentiment. Cannabis law was no exception.
Before American involvement, the Marshall Islands had been subject to the control of a diverse number of European powers. The Spanish first claimed the islands in 1592, only to sell them off the German Empire three hundred years later. During World War II, the Japanese empire occupied the islands, resulting in American nuclear testing in the Pacific throughout the fifties.
It will be interesting to see how the Marshall Islands government enacts cannabis reform over the next few years and decades. Will the country follow suit of many American states and Western European countries by enacting decriminalization measures? Alternatively, will the country fall back on anti-drug policies developed in the eighties?
For now, it’s hard to tell. However, there have been some promising developments in the past few years. Now, it’s technically possible for some medical patients to secure legal access to medical marijuana when prescribed by a doctor; however, there are no medical cannabis sales ever recorded on the islands.