History of CBD and Cannabis: Sao Tome and Principe
Located just off the Gulf of Guinea on the West African coastline, Sao Tome and Principe is a small country consisting of two archipelagos. Though it was initially lucrative for sugar plantations during the colonial era, production on the islands later shifted to illicit cannabis cultivation due to continuous economic instability.
Today, the government’s attitude towards cannabis has largely been defined by both international pressure and the cultural precedence of cannabis use.
Cannabis And CBD: Sao Tome And Principe
Currently, cannabis is considered illegal for medical, industrial, and recreational use in Sao Tome and Principe. Despite its illegal status, cannabis continues to be trafficked and cultivated illicitly throughout the region.
In the late nineteenth century, Portuguese travelers sold large quantities of hashish to Angolan laborers in Sao Tome. Soon enough, marijuana seeds spread throughout both islands and became one of the most prolific crops.
With a hot and humid climate, Sao Tome provides the perfect growing environment for many strains of hemp and cannabis. There’s little variation from the tropical temperature of eighty degrees and the rainy season lasts almost more than half of the year.
Ultimately, this means that the cannabis industry can flourish year round with little need for complex irrigation. Hemp and THC rich cannabis strains grow in both wild and domesticated plots on both archipelagos.
As economic conditions continued to grow more unstable in the region throughout the late twentieth century, families were increasingly attracted to the cannabis industry. Globally, one acre of cannabis is nearly thirty times as profitable as one acre of a comparable crop.
In order to financially support themselves, small time growers cultivated compact cannabis plots before selling the harvest to local distributors.
Ever since gaining independence in the seventies, cycles of civic, economic, and social unrest have mostly calmed. Now, the region is one of the most stable and democratic countries in all of Africa.
In the seventies and eighties, Sao Tome and Principe implemented stricter cannabis regulations due to pressure imposed by the United States. During this time period, the US was trapped in a full on anti-drug panic.
To stop rising rates of cannabis consumption by youth, the US government enacted the War on Drugs, which subsequently become a tenet of international policy. To adapt, many West African countries increased enforcement of national drug laws against cannabis.
Although the enforcement of regulation has increased since the early eighties, rates of production, distribution, and personal use has also increased. Even to this day, it’s still difficult for law enforcement to target local growing schemes on the geographically diverse islands.
It will be interesting to see how Sao Tome and Principe reacts to softening regulation throughout the rest of the Western World. It may take many years before substantive cannabis reform, decriminalization, or legalization measures are implemented.