Table of contents
In Fiji, marijuana is completely illegal, reflecting the country’s commitment to a zero-tolerance stance on drugs.
The possession, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis for recreational or medicinal use are illegal and can lead to severe legal consequences. Despite the harsh penalties, marijuana is one of Fiji’s most commonly used drugs, and hemp is now decriminalized in the Pacific Island nation.
Medical Marijuana Laws in Fiji
Cannabis possession and consumption carries a mandatory three-month prison sentence for any amount up to 100 grams.
Fiji does not have a medical marijuana program. However, the Pacific Island Nation’s Dangerous Drug Act does carve out allowances for authorized professionals to possess and supply drugs for medical purposes.
These drugs include Indian hemp, a term Fijian politicians use to describe Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica plants.
According to the law, registered pharmacists can manufacture extracts or tinctures of Indian hemp, provided they keep the materials locked and accessible only to them or their registered pharmacist assistants.
However, it’s unclear whether this is a common practice, as no other sources mention pharmaceutical cannabis access in Fiji.
What to Know About Medical Cannabis in Fiji
Many countries recognize the therapeutic properties of cannabis and have implemented medical marijuana programs to relieve patients. Fiji does not appear to be one of them.
Consuming or possessing cannabis, including marijuana for personal medical use, is illegal in Fiji.
Possession of cannabis can result in imprisonment for up to 20 years, depending on the quantity and the offender’s criminal history. Possessing even small quantities is punishable by a three-month minimum prison sentence.
Hemp, however, is another story.
Fijian politicians and members of parliament, such as Hon. Lynda Tabuya and Hon. Niko Nawaikula, have long voiced support for investing in industrial hemp as a replacement for the declining sugar industry.
And in August 2022, parliament decriminalized hemp, defined as cannabis containing less than 1% THC.
The new amendment removes hemp from Schedule 1 of the Illicit Drugs Control Act, allowing importation, possession, cultivation, sale, and supply.
Medical Cannabis and the Black Market
Fijians seeking marijuana for medical use or recreational use can also take their chances on the black market. According to the Fiji Sun, illegal weed is readily available through various methods:
- In rural areas, farmers employ inventive techniques by concealing marijuana leaves within flowering English cabbage.
- Some dealers use abandoned bean carts as hiding spots, allowing them to sell products discreetly. The transaction process is relatively straightforward, as customers approach the cart and request a $5 joint.
- Urban barbeque stands also serve as open venues for selling black-market weed.
Fiji is also a significant source of drug trafficking among Pacific island countries. Smuggling methods extend to inter-island ferries, where individuals, including women with children, hide drugs in diapers.
The widespread availability of shadow-market cannabis means that people can access marijuana for any purpose but face potentially severe punishments and questionable quality products.
Calls for Legalization
Various Fijian groups have called for legalizing marijuana, particularly for medicinal purposes and as an alternative industry to support economic recovery.
- Various forums, including the National Budget Consultation and National Development Plan post-COVID-19, have addressed the potential benefits of legalizing marijuana.
- Academic discussions have also taken place regarding converting marijuana into a viable industry for Fiji.
Despite these calls, the Fijian government remains committed to preventing the cultivation, manufacturing, and consumption of high-THC cannabis.
Can You Grow Cannabis in Fiji?
Marijuana cultivation in Fiji is illegal.
People found growing up to ten cannabis plants at home can face three months to one year in prison. Offenders caught with 10 to 50 plants can serve up to three years. And 50 or more plants warrant two to 14 years behind bars.
The penalty for trafficking cannabis in Fiji is also significant, with offenders facing imprisonment for a minimum of six months and a maximum of 14 years, depending on the quantities.
Police officers can also arrest and detain anyone carrying or transporting cannabis without a warrant.
On the upside, the Fiji Islands’ recent industrial hemp decriminalization bill allows authorized growers to cultivate the crop nationwide.
The Bottom Line
Marijuana is currently illegal in Fiji for medical and recreational purposes. The use, possession, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis are prohibited under the existing cannabis laws.
However, cannabis is still among Fiji Islands’ most popular illicit drugs, and patients seeking cannabis-based medicines can potentially acquire them through licensed pharmacies.
Additionally, patients may soon have access to CBD products for personal use due to the nation’s recent industrial hemp decriminalization bill.