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Is Marijuana Legal in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan flag with a hand holding a marijuana infront of it

Marijuana is against the law in Afghanistan, despite the cannabis plant being cultivated for centuries and the country’s status as the world’s top producer.

From the 1970s to today, the shifting governments in power, from the fall of the monarchy to the current Taliban regime, have banned cannabis cultivation and use and threatened violators with severe punishments.

Medical Marijuana Laws in Afghanistan

The plant Cannabis indica is thought by some botanists to have originated in Afghanistan, where its use has been an important part of life and medicine for millennia.

The Afghani legend of Baba Ku says that the Creator sent him to bring cannabis to the people of the world and teach them how to grow plants from cannabis seeds.

Cannabis is widely cultivated throughout Afghanistan, and farmers grew crops with little fuss for many years. A ban in 1957, passed under pressure from the United States government, somewhat limited cannabis’s prevalence but did nothing to dampen its popularity.

During the 1970s, the rise of the Hippie Trail lured a surging crowd of young tourists to Afghanistan, seeking the world-famous Afghan hashish and flower. Increased production and sale to foreign visitors led to social issues for the government.

Afghan authorities seized large quantities of cannabis products for export and increasingly clashed with drug traffickers to squash illegal hashish production.

This ultimately led to King Zahir Shah’s 1973 decree, which outlawed cannabis and opium production, with eradication efforts backed by $47 million in US funding. The Counter Narcotics Drug Law of 2005 reinforced strict punishments for offenders, including increasing prison time and fines.

Despite these harsh laws and violent offensives against cannabis farmers and illegal drugs, cannabis continued to be one of Afghanistan’s most widely cultivated substances, and the country continued as the largest producer of the plant. Authorities have maintained efforts to seize products for both domestic sale and international export, a strategy which has continued into the current regime.

Afghanistan has no medical marijuana program in place, nor is one likely any time soon. After taking power in 2021, the Taliban imposed Sharia law on the people of the country and declared harsh punishment of up to the death sentence for those who cultivate cannabis. Interestingly, however, the Taliban, in recent years, announced they would launch a state-funded medical marijuana factory to produce flowers for international export in partnership with German manufacturing company Cpharm.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean a medicinal cannabis industry will soon appear in Afghanistan, the partnership could provide plentiful revenue for the country’s devastated economy.

What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in Afghanistan

You cannot access medical or recreational cannabis in Afghanistan. Similarly, you cannot bring it into the country. If you’re planning a visit to the area, it is recommended that you leave your cannabis (including CBD) at home, even if you have a medical marijuana card.

Cannabis Is Against the Law

The possession, sale, and use of cannabis are banned in Afghanistan.

Per the Counter Narcotics Drug Law, anyone caught with less than any amount of cannabis seeds, cannabis resin, or different forms of products is subject to three months in jail and fines.

Sentences increase in severity with larger amounts. If a doctor certifies that someone is addicted to cannabis, that individual may be forced to undergo rehabilitation at a drug treatment center.

CBD Is Illegal in Afghanistan

Afghan law makes no distinction between CBD and cannabis, despite the differences in THC content. Therefore, CBD possession qualifies for the same punishment as cannabis generally.

Can You Grow Cannabis in Afghanistan?

Cannabis cultivation is illegal in Afghanistan, and the Taliban has declared harsh punishment against those who break the law. If caught, offenders will be punished according to Sharia law, with penalties including amputation of hands and feet, whipping, and death.

While cannabis cultivation is banned, the Taliban recently announced an agreement with German company Cpharm, with over $400 million invested in opening a cannabis production factory and cultivating cannabis plants to produce medical marijuana products abroad.

The Bottom Line

It seems unlikely that Afghanistan’s leaders will legalize the medical or personal use of cannabis any time soon. But farmers continue cultivating the plant, which is widely consumed underground despite regulatory bans.

Afghan hashish has a reputation among the highest quality weed in the world, but it’s best to avoid the plant if you’re traveling or residing in Afghanistan.