From Russian state media outlet Sputnik comes the surprising news that Belarus has banned cannabis cultivation with a Dec. 31 decree from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.
The surprise isn’t that growing was banned—but that it hadn’t been banned already.
The former Soviet republic’s best claim to fame is as “Europe’s last dictatorship.” Strongman Alexander Lukashenko has been in power for over 20 years now, resorting to probable fraud and definite repression to hold on to the presidency. After Lukashenko was accused of stealing the 2010 elections, there was a popular protest movement, put down wth mass arrests—with the opposition candidate himself sentenced to prison for inciting riots!
No surprise that Lukashenko was “re-elected” with virtually no opposition in 2015.
In last September’s parliamentary elections, a few opposition candidates were for the first time allowed to take seats, leading some Belarus-watchers to hope for a “thaw.” But Lukashenko is still running a very tight ship, not exactly the kind of place you’d expect to be cannabis-friendly.
And it isn’t.
The We Be High travel blog informs us that “marijuana is highly illegal in Belarus.” In fact, a recent “reform” of the penal code eliminated the distinction between possession and distribution. That means possession of any quantity of herb can land you up to 10 years in prison—unless you can arrange a very substantial bribe to the notoriously corrupt police and judiciary.
Not surprisingly, a color-coded map indicating levels of world cannabis use, prepared by Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, shows Belarus near the bottom of the scale. Within Europe, the UK is in the “high” category, with 6.2 percent of its population toking, along with the Netherlands and Czech Republic. Belarus and another ex-Soviet republic, Moldova, are the only two European countries in the “low” category. Russia and Ukraine are in the “medium” range.
So what is going on here?
The new decree also covers opium poppies and (oddly) the obscure herb heracleum. The Sputnik account notes that “possession and sale of cannabis is illegal in Belarus.” As with the persistent stories about cannabis being legal in ultra-repressive North Korea, this oversight in the law was probably due to the fact that there simply was no cannabis cultivation to bother outlawing in Belarus.
And with the current tentative “thaw” (mostly aimed at wooing foreign investment), Lukshenko doesn’t want his people getting any ideas.
You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.
An Accidental Activist: Beating the Schindler’s List Effect
Cannabis and Mental Health: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Mass. Police Seize Pot-Infused Candy Worth Hundreds of Thousands Of Dollars
Wisconsin’s Meth Crisis Is Growing While The State Fights An Opioid Epidemic
Expert Lighting Advice For Taking Your Grow To The Next Level
Authorities Investigating “Dank” Cartridges As Possible Culprit In Vape-Related Illnesses
The Rebirth Of Subcool: The Inside Story Of A Legendary Bud Breeder
The Best Hydroponic Methods For Growing Cannabis Yourself
News6 days ago
Canadian Cannabis Company Will Sell Marijuana For Less Than $5 Per Gram
Activism7 days ago
Compassion Lives on in California as Governor Signs The Dennis Peron and Brownie Mary Act
News7 days ago
Comprehensive Marijuana Legalization Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania
News7 days ago
California Governor Signs Several Marijuana-Related Bills
News5 days ago
A Year After Canada Legalizes Weed, People Are Still Buying Unregulated Cannabis
Grow4 days ago
The Return Of The Super Sativa Seed Club
News7 days ago
Florida Man Calls Police to Report His Roommate For Stealing His Weed
News4 days ago
A Look At Cannabis Legislation In Countries Around The World