Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa. It is just over 30000 km² in size and has a population slightly over two million. Its capital and largest city is Maseru. Lesotho is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sotho.
The first historical record of cannabis in what is now Lesotho dates back to the sixteenth century. According to historian Stephen Gill, oral tradition has handed down the story of a "colonizing" use of marijuana by the Koena people. Cannabis is grown almost everywhere in the country, even on small plots in the capital, Maseru. However, the main growing regions are found in the high mountain zones in the centre and east of the country, as well as in the western foothill region. Plantations are generally situated in the valleys of the numerous streams and rivers that drain the mountains (including the Orange River, called Senqu River in Lesotho). Although marijuana is smoked on a large scale in Lesotho, alcohol is, by far, the source of most substance abuse with the direct consequences as regards public health.
Cultivation of cannabis is not illegal under Lesothan law, and although possession and sale is prohibited by law it is rarely enforced and enjoys a de facto decriminalised status. According to various reports, all sections of Lesothan society—including the police and government—turn a blind eye to cannabis in recognition of the more severe consequences that would result if its cultivation was severely restricted and Lesotho’s rural poor therefore subject to straitened financial circumstances. The first political party of Lesotho (the Basutho National Congress for Independence), which led the country to independence, had two main issues—independence for Lesotho, and legalisation of cannabis. However, since independence was achieved, there has been little dialogue at the top level regarding cannabis legislation in Lesotho.
- CANNABIS IN LESOTHO: A PRELIMINARY SURVEY (October 1998), UNESCO
- Law & International Policy (January 1, 2014), Sensi Seeds