History of CBD and Cannabis: Namibia
Located in Southern Africa, Namibia is bordered by Zambia to the north and Botswana to the east. Interestingly, Namibia was one of the last African nations to obtain independence, which it finally secured from South African rule in March of 1990. Since then, the country has become an active member of several international organizations, such as the United Nations, African Union, and Commonwealth of Nations.
Despite having a somewhat higher human development index than neighboring countries, Namibia still suffers from recurrent cannabis trafficking, consumption, and cultivation problems.
Cannabis, CBD, and Namibia
Cannabis is illegal for medical and recreational use in Namibia. Still, cannabis is the most widely used and popular illicit substance in the entire country.
In 2000, the United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC) reported that the rate of regular cannabis consumption was 3.9 percent. More recent reports estimate that nearly five to seven percent of the population regularly consumes cannabis.
During colonial rule, all suspected drug use among subjects and indigenous populations was not tolerated. Cannabis was equated with laziness, poor productivity, and lawlessness. Despite over a century of colonial possession, cannabis continued to be popular throughout Namibia. Moreover, Namibia is one of the driest countries in all of the African continent, meaning that most cannabis is illicitly trafficked into the country.
Even after independence was obtained, the memory of colonial rule stuck. Additionally, international organizations and Western nations pushed for complete restriction of cannabis in the latter half of the twentieth century.
The Namibian people maintain close ties with cannabis. Termed “dagga” or “dakha” locally, it’s not uncommon to see residents smoking the compound in public spaces without fear of repercussion. For the past few years, residents have been calling for the legalization of cannabis. Many residents feel concerned that poor communities are being systematically and unfairly targeted by law enforcement.
In July of 2019, members of Rastafarian religious groups and the Ganja Users of Namibia League held a large protest in the capital.
Supporters believe that cannabis legalization could present a significant boon for the local economy, in addition to decreasing mass incarceration rates. In South Africa, personal consumption and possession of cannabis are now legal, which was one of the most major influences for advocacy groups to start protesting in Namibia.
Ultimately, it’s unlikely that the country will implement full cannabis legalization any time soon. As a direct response to the protests, Namibia’s Ministry of Justice released an official statement in July of 2019, claiming: “the country [is] not yet ready to manage the legalization of cannabis.”
Legalizing cannabis requires significant cooperation between distinct state departments, which the strained Namibian government might not be able to manage just yet.