History of CBD and Cannabis: Mauritania
Located in Northwest Africa, Mauritania is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Western Sahara desert to the north. Due to Mauritania’s strategic position along the coast and year round humid climate, both cannabis trafficking and cultivation crimes run rampant throughout the entire state.
Over the years, Mauritanian governments’ response to cannabis has been largely dictated by international pressures, lack of enforcement resources, and the impact of colonial history.
Cannabis, CBD, and Mauritania
Currently, cannabis is illegal for industrial, recreational, and medical use in Mauritania. However, the country serves as a major transshipment and trafficking route for illicit substances headed towards Morocco and Southern Europe.
Despite the illegality of cannabis, many residents use it publicly without fear of repercussion. Marijuana is easily found through distributors that provide it cheaply in urban centers. Many small cannabis plots run by families dot the dam around the Senegal river in the south.
In these communities, law enforcement either opt to turn a blind eye or extract regular bribes from cultivators. In this way, the cannabis industry represents an extralegal relationship with both Mauritanian residents and local law enforcement agencies.
Moreover, many parts of Mauritania are rural and hard for the central government to effectively patrol.
Cannabis Enforcement History of Mauritania
The country only started to crack down on widespread marijuana crime during the seventies and eighties due to the involvement of the United States government. In 1977, the US house started an investigation into marijuana cultivation in West African nations like Mauritania. At the strong recommendation of US officials, Mauritania adopted stricter regulations and attempted harsher enforcement of petty cannabis crime.
Throughout the twenty first century, the United Nations and other international organizations have stepped in to help aid the country in fighting the spread of marijuana. Slowly, the country has ramped up seizures; however, the total quantity of seizures has been minimal over the past few years.
Interestingly, a former president of Mauritania Mohamed Haidalla (served from 1980 to 1984), was implicated in a large scale cannabis trafficking ring in 2011. Considering how lucrative the cannabis market is, it makes sense that some higher level elites would become entrenched in high profile drug rings.
Over the next few years, it’s unlikely that the government will fully support a legal cannabis market. Not only would it require extensive coordination among different administrative branches, but many residents and enforcers symbiotically benefit from the illicit nature of cannabis trade. Experts note that the illegality of the industry keeps demand artificially high in the country.