A fairly brief overview of some of these issues throughout the history of Brazil. Interesting to see the racial aspect of cannabis prohibition discussed in this context, as I've really only learned much about this aspect of its history in the U.S. Sounds like it is a shared history and a big issue across many cultures, although it is often not acknowledged that this is the true history of the current laws.
Cannabis and the Afro-Brazilian Tradition
Henrique S. Carneiro
"Rising Researchers" March 23, 2008 Basel
Drug research groups in contemporary Brazil:
ABRAMO- open to medical use, harm reduction
ABEAD- conservative stance
NEIP- interdisciplinary- stresses social and humanistic viewpoints
Garcia de Orta- 1563- eastern medicine and effects of bhang
Interested in field of Social and Cultural History of Drugs, Beverage, and Food (economy, symbolic meanings, normalization and regulation, effects on the body- many commonalities among issues raised)
-Comparisons of ways to regulate consumed goods
-Common aspect- regimes of normalization
Cannabis as emblematic "black drug" brought by Africans
Brazilian Portuguese words for Cannabis derived from African languages/words- Banghi, Dagga, Riamba/Diamba
NW Africa/Nigeria- use only after WWII
-Symbols of Afro-Brazilian identity
-Rodriguez Doria- Cannabis/opium as revenge of ex-slaves, enslaving their masters in turn
-Question of why did slave masters tolerate it? Theory that it calmed/relaxed individuals who used it
"-Diamba-" as spirit/god in African language (drug->religion association)
Eugenism- major factor- Marijuana blamed for "degradation of white race"
Idea that is necessary to promote "whitening" of culture and society to achieve progress
Prohibition of these plants is racially based
1st law/oldest mention of cannabis in Brazil in 1843
1889 penal code prohibits "poisonous substances." Cannabis plant clearly not poisonous but used as a scapegoat.
United Nations 1945
US, Brazil, Ghana, and Venezuela- proposed and approved of condemnation of cannabis plant
*Hemp plant not identified with African/Asian "bhang" for some time- affected legal status and cultural perceptions
G. Freyre- Afro-Brazilian cannabis as an important cultural tradition
"Straight" individuals/culture vs. marijuana- political activism vs. cultural rebellion
This dichotomy intensified during the military dictatorship 1964-1989
Word meaning "cannabis user" as a very offensive insult- meaning/implying crazy, irresponsible, etc.
-Much deception re: cannabis with Lula gov't
-Use of cannabis by Santo Daime church group- religious use as new cultural revival?
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