TNI explica cómo la reducción de barreras para los pequeños agricultores y su reforzamiento para las grandes corporaciones pueden ayudar a conducir los mercados legales de cannabis hacia una dirección más sostenible y equitativa. Más información, en inglés, está disponible abajo.
By Martin Jelsma et al.
From the early days of cannabis prohibition, traditional producing countries have stressed the importance of finding alternative livelihoods for rural communities dependent on cannabis cultivation. The first crop-substitution projects in the 1960s in Lebanon and Morocco were the genesis of continuing UN debate on ‘alternative development’ and ‘shared responsibility’. Growing demand for cannabis in the North and crashing prices of agricultural commodities like coffee, cocoa and banana due to free trade policies, turned the ever-expanding illegal cannabis market into a survival economy for millions of people. Almost no-where have small cannabis farmers been offered substantial development assistance for moving out of the illegal market.
The recent wave of policy changes and fast-growing legal spaces in the medical cannabis market offer new opportunities for small farmers to transition out of illegality while continuing to grow cannabis. Several traditional producing countries have started to explore this option of ‘alternative development with cannabis’. Barriers to entry, however, are not easy to overcome and few small farmers have been able thus far to conquer some space in the billion-dollar medical cannabis market. The emerging legal markets are increasingly captured by big corporations, pushing out small farmers from the South. This report argues that lessening the barriers for small farmers while raising them for large companies can help to steer legal cannabis markets in a more sustainable and equitable direction based on principles of community empowerment, social justice, fair(er) trade and sustainable development.
Key points & recommendations:
- From the early days of cannabis prohibition, traditional cannabis producing countries have stressed the importance of finding alternative income opportunities for poor rural communities dependent on cannabis cultivation.
- In contrast to projects for illicit coca and poppy cultivation, almost nowhere have small cannabis farmers been offered substantial development assistance for moving out of the illegal market; efforts in the past in Morocco and Lebanon did not have a lasting impact on cannabis cultivation.
- The impact of free trade policies and related price crashes of agricultural commodities like coffee, cocoa and banana, turned the illegal cannabis market into a survival economy for millions of people.