History of CBD and Cannabis: Rwanda
As one of the smallest countries in the African mainland, Rwanda has the highest population density compared to every other nation on the continent. Chock full of predominantly young men, Rwanda is comprised of a huge diversity of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups.
In the wake of genocidal campaigns conducted in the nineties, Rwanda’s economy experienced a major blow. In order to survive, many families in the more moisture-rich regions of the country turned to cannabis cultivation just to make ends meet.
Since then, the government has struggled to stamp out illicit cannabis trafficking, cultivation, and personal use crimes.
Cannabis, CBD, and Rwanda
Currently, cannabis is illegal for recreational and industrial use in Rwanda. However, in 2010, the Minister of Health introduced legislation that would slowly legitimize and legalize medical marijuana in the country.
Under the new regulation, qualified patients are able to secure access to marijuana through licensed providers as long as they carry a valid doctor’s recommendation. Rwandan law defines qualifying conditions as a wide subset of mental and physical ailments.
The decision to legalize medical marijuana was influenced by recent legal developments all through several African nations. Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Morocco, and Malawi have all made substantive moves towards more legal cannabis markets.
Legalization Could Benefit Rwanda
Rather than remaining an economic burden on the country, cannabis could present an inroad into the growing global marijuana market. The problems of inconsistent law enforcement and overcrowded prison conditions could be dramatically decreased, according to Rwandan political experts.
Interestingly, Rwanda was one of the later countries to formally adopt cannabis criminalization policies. In the sixties, one infamous study showed that the Twa people of Rwanda heavily used marijuana.
At the time, the Twa were one of the poorest ethnic groups. Surrounded by comparatively more prosperous social groups, the Twa were associated with criminality, low income, and lack of education.
Soon, cannabis came to carry associations of laziness, violence, and low social status. This resulted in legislation that limited the consumption of cannabis to the Twa people.
Since then, international pressure has been a large force in dictating current cannabis policy in the country. In the seventies and eighties, the United States enacted the War on Drugs program, which resulted in worldwide restriction on cannabis and penalization of nonviolent drug offenders.
Though it will likely take another big push before Rwanda fully legalizes cannabis, recent steps have given residents hope for the future of marijuana.