This is the first in a two-part AFKInsider series on marijuana tolerance in Africa — or lack of it. You can read Part 2 here.
African governments have tried to limit and stop its use, but marijuana remains deeply ingrained in African tradition, recreation and economies.
It is illegal everywhere in Africa, but an important source of income. Levels of tolerance and law enforcement related to marijuana vary from country to country.
The website Marijuana Travels ranks 260 countries including at least 42 African countries for tolerance to marijuana. Countries are ranked from 1 — highly prohibited — to 10 — legal. Rankings include on-the-ground information on enforcement. The site appears to be updated regularly, in some cases, daily. The home page says the site was created to inform viewers of conditions affecting marijuana, which can change daily and sometimes hourly.
Indigenous to Central and South Asia, cannabis is thought to have made its way to Africa through contact with Arab traders connected to India.
The earliest evidence for cannabis in Africa outside of Egypt comes from 14th-century Ethiopia, where ceramic smoking-pipe bowls with traces of cannabis stood the test of time, showing up in archaeological excavations.
From Ethiopia, cannabis seeds were carried south by Bantu speakers who originally lived in North Africa. From them the use of cannabis as an intoxicant is thought to have spread to other native Africans such as the San.
Dominican priest Joao dos Santos wrote about the plant in 1609, saying it was grown near the Cape of Good Hope and was called bangue.
Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Dutch colony at the Cape of Good Hope, described the use of cannabis by Hottentots in 1658.
Colorado, the first U.S. state to allow the sale of recreational marijuana, expected to take in $60 million to $70 million in taxes from legal marijuana sales in 2014, according to the Denver Business Journal.
If all 50 U.S. states legalized marijuana, they could stand to gain more than $3 billion in tax revenue collectively from legal marijuana sales, according to NerdWallet, a personal finance site.
AFKInsider compiled a list of 18 countries and ranked them for marijuana tolerance in Africa. Countries are ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is highly prohibited and 10 is legal.
This AFKInsider article was first published May 13, 2015.
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