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Is Marijuana Legal in Gambia?

The Gambia flag with a hand holding a marijuana infront of it

Cannabis is against the law for medical and recreational purposes in The Gambia, with harsh punishments given to those who break the rules. The African country has historically opposed legalization.

As recently as 2019, Gambian authorities disavowed decriminalization or any regulations that would lessen their staunch opposition. As such, local laws surrounding cannabis and its medical use are unlikely to change soon.

Medical Marijuana Laws in The Gambia

Marijuana, or Jamba/ganja as it’s called locally, grows wild in The Gambia, where its use in everyday life stretches back centuries.

However, following the global wave of prohibition and the mid-century relinquishing of colonial rule, The Gambia started clamping down on drug use in its policy.

A 1993 report from Cambridge found that cannabis was more and more frequently abused in The Gambia, with a growing rate of hospital visits tied to cannabis use.

The same paper estimated that due to varying levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in wild-grown cannabis, it was likely that Cannabis sativa from the western African country was more potent than in other regions.

In 2003, The Gambia’s government passed the THR Drug Control Act, which outlawed cannabis use, possession, drug trafficking, cultivation, and other narcotics.

The country also established the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (DLEAG) — a former unit within the Gambian police — in 2005 to advise the state on drug abuse policies and enforce the Drug Control Act.

The President and government of The Gambia have zero tolerance towards narcotic drugs.

In 2019, Minister of the Interior Ebrima Mballow claimed that the government is still firmly against legalization and decriminalization.

He further declared that cannabis was the most problematic narcotic substance in The Gambia and responsible for most drug-related criminal activity.

These laws are unlikely to change soon for Gambian citizens or visitors, especially regarding medical use.

The Gambian government has made it clear it will take decisive action against anyone violating its drug policy. Any cannabis possession or use, whether THC for medical purposes or therapeutic cannabidiol (CBD), is against the law.

What to Know About About Medical Cannabis in The Gambia

You cannot access medical or recreational cannabis in The Gambia. 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.

All Marijuana Is Illegal

Steep fines and lengthy prison time await those found possessing cannabis, though the scale of the punishment in severity according to the amount confiscated.

For first-time offenders, the possession of 0.1-150 grams is a fine between 50,000 and 100,000 Gambian dalasi, about 1,676.73 USD, and prison time between six months to one year.

Second offenses or amounts between 151-500 grams can be fined up to D150,000 and imprisoned for up to two years, while 500 grams to 2 kilograms earns up to three years in prison and D250,000.

Any amount higher than 2.5 grams is considered possession of large quantities with the intent for drug trafficking, incurring D1,000,000 fines in addition to no less than 10 years behind bars.

CBD Is Illegal

The Gambia makes no distinction between cannabinoids or whether a cannabis product is intended for medical purposes or personal use. As such, CBD is considered part of the cannabis plant and entirely against the law.

Can You Grow Cannabis in The Gambia?

Cannabis cultivation is illegal in The Gambia. The plant grows wild in the country, and those found guilty of cannabis cultivation face severe penalties.

Further, if growing plants are found on a person’s property, the burden of innocence lies on the property owner to prove they did not know about the cultivation activity.

The Bottom Line

The Gambia completely outlaws both medical and recreational cannabis and has recently reaffirmed its commitment to strict adherence to enforcing its drug policies.

It’s best to follow the laws and avoid cannabis and other prohibited drugs when residing or traveling in The Gambia.