by Seshata on 01/01/2014 | Uncategorized

Cannabis in Lesotho

The tiny, landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho, with an area of just 30,000km² and a population of around two million, is an enclave entirely surrounded by South Africa. Independent of Great Britain since 1966, Lesotho has struggled to develop and improve, and remains poverty-stricken, underdeveloped and hugely unequal.


The tiny, landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho, with an area of just 30,000km² and a population of around two million, is an enclave entirely surrounded by South Africa. Independent of Great Britain since 1966, Lesotho has struggled to develop and improve, and remains poverty-stricken, underdeveloped and hugely unequal.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/markturner/2125168107/lightbox/
Lesotho’s rugged, mountainous terrain is ideal for cultivating small plots of cannabis without attracting the attention of the authorities

Law & International Policy

Cultivation of cannabis is not illegal under Lesothan law, and although possession and sale is prohibited by law it is rarely enforced and enjoys a de facto decriminalised status. According to various reports, all sections of Lesothan society—including the police and government—turn a blind eye to cannabis in recognition of the more severe consequences that would result if its cultivation was severely restricted and Lesotho’s rural poor therefore subject to straitened financial circumstances.

The first political party of Lesotho (the Basutho National Congress for Independence), which led the country to independence, had two main issues—independence for Lesotho, and legalisation of cannabis. However, since independence was achieved, there has been little dialogue at the top level regarding cannabis legislation in Lesotho.

Cannabis Arrests & Sentences

While few arrests are made for cannabis possession within Lesotho, residents of Lesotho are often arrested when attempting to transport cannabis from Lesotho to South Africa. Usually, such cases will result in confiscation or fines proportionate to the amount seized.

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Lesotho grows a huge quantity of cannabis, much of it destined for export to South Africa

In 2011, a large-scale operation was mounted with the combined police forces of South Africa and Lesotho to eradicate and seize cannabis in the eastern part of the country. Roadblocks in the areas that are in most common use as trafficking routes are also commonplace. As a result of eradications and seizures, many cannabis cultivators have been forced to relocate further upland, where the terrain is less than ideal for cultivation of cannabis. Eradications may also entail use of toxic chemicals that can adversely affect surrounding ecosystems.

The Cannabis Trade in Lesotho

Cannabis is a cash crop of unparalleled significance to much of Lesotho’s rural poor—so much so that the authorities there have essentially turned a blind eye to cannabis cultivation, recognising that it is a necessary part of the agricultural economy and acknowledging the negative consequences that would undoubtedly arise from more restrictive policies. Police resources are too few to effectively criminalise cannabis cultivation; furthermore, in a democracy such as Lesotho, the rural population can easily vote out elected officials that are hostile towards cannabis.

Lesotho’s hilly, rugged terrain is ideal for small, discreet plots of cannabis, which have sprung up throughout the country. In the valleys, the soil is fertile, and water is relatively abundant, so harvests can be high and farms may consist of larger, plantation-style plots. However, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, commenced in 1998 and completed in 2004, displaced many rural families and forced them to relocate either to higher altitudes—which can have much poorer soil—or to the cities in search of employment.

Cannabis is planted between mid-August and early October, and the first harvest takes place in January, at which point the fast-ripening males are removed and the females left to mature. The male leaves are often sold as majaja, a low-cost form of cannabis that is often smoked with other drugs, such as Mandrax, which do not burn readily. The female matekoane is harvested between February and April.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/percyverance/
Donkeys loaded with sacks of cannabis, en route from Lesotho to South Africa

Although politically independent, Lesotho relies heavily on South Africa, both as a buyer for the bulk of Lesothan exports and as an employer of much of the workforce, primarily in the gold and copper mines. Indeed, the bulk of cannabis grown in Lesotho is destined for South Africa, where much of it is consumed domestically and the surplus exported throughout the world.

Traditional Use of Cannabis in Lesotho

Cannabis has been an integral part of tribal life in Lesotho for many centuries; first brought to East Africa by Portuguese and Arab traders between the 10th and the 15th centuries, its spread throughout central and southern Africa was assisted by the indigenous Bantu tribespeople of the region. It is thought that a particular ethnic group, the Koena people, migrated southwards from Mpumalanga to settle in Lesotho, and that they even purchased land from the San (Bushmen) tribes of the region in exchange for cannabis.

Cannabis is referred to as metakoane in Sesotho, the native tongue of Lesotho (Lesotho itself means “the land of the people that speak Sesotho”); it is used as a herbal remedy for headaches, heartburn and high blood pressure, and is infrequently abused. It may also be used to stimulate the appetite, and to increase feelings of “strength” and motivation while working. Furthermore, cannabis is used to treat livestock suffering from parasitic worms.

Modern Attitudes to Cannabis

Cannabis is such an important commercial commodity that there is much cultural and social acceptance of it. Many of the farmers that produce it view it as a purely commercial item and do not necessarily consume it themselves. However, use throughout Lesothan society is ubiquitous, as is acceptance of the cannabis trade and those who are employed within it. Furthermore, despite a lack of clear evidence, there are many indications that politicians and police are aware of the cannabis industry, and that they turn a blind eye to (or are even involved in) the trade.

It is important to document the history and current events of the ongoing drug war in every country that it occurs—for this reason, organisations like the Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam are crucial as they attempt to bring together information from various credible sources in order to provide the most accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information on the present global situation.

Comment Section

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Elanine

HEMP TECHNOLOGIES[ Food, Fuel, Shelter, Jobs ]- Hemp is NOW a basic need of the multitude undeniably an inalienable Human right not subject to speculative whims of the minority chiefs as it is the policy of the state to protect the life of every citizen and seek the most appropriate ways to provide the basic needs for its people. It is then, the policy of the citizenry people to follow all laws. Cannabis has never been subjected to a scientific review by the World Health Organization using the criteria required for any psychoactive substance to be included in the United Nations schedules of controlled drugs.

28/03/2014

equekas

mientras tanto los gobiernos meten drogas quimicas .....

13/06/2016

bobby

well....the benefits of cannabis far exceed the harm it can cause. Legalization of cannabis would leave pharmaceutical companies in shambles.People should not have to pay for drugs that make them better as opposed to growing and consuming the cure at choice.

25/04/2017

Theron

Good information and progress for the world is worth sharing. A new World is not needed just connecting with it is needed.

21/06/2018

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