Cannabis in Tunisia


Cannabis in Tunisia is of good quality, but it must also be said that you can end up spending a year in jail for a simple joint

Cannabis, also known nationally as “zatia”, and in some regions as “takrouri”, is illegal in Tunisia since 1953.

Although its origin is not known for sure, one of the most supported theories is that it was brought to the country during the Arab invasions from the 12th century to the 15th century.

However, just like in India for thousands of years, there are some compounds called Lhasis, whose base is hashish or marijuana that is mixed with different edible products, such as yogurt.

It is said that whoever eats it falls into a kind of intoxicating torpor and that produces a great tendency to lust.

Before its independence in 1964, there was a certain social and religious permissiveness towards cannabis and its users. But afterwards, he implanted the hardness of the law towards the consumption, use, sale and cultivation of cannabis.

The mere consumption or possession of cannabis is punishable by a prison sentence of 1 to 5 years and a fine of between US $ 500 and US $ 1,500. The sale is a more serious matter. In fact, both the sale and the cultivation or transportation is punishable by prison terms between 6 and 25 years and a fine of between 2,500 to 500,000 dollars.

Tourists are known to have been arrested for smoking a simple joint and, in addition to giving them a good beating, have ended up in jail. Of course, consuming cannabis in Tunisia is not a good idea.

As in Morocco, talking about the legalization of cannabis in Tunisia, whether for medical or recreational use, was impossible. However, at present some voices are already being heard that want to regulate this issue.

The inhumane laws on cannabis were imposed by the dictator Ben Ali in the year 1992. Already in the year 2017, the laws on the use, possession and sale of cannabis, were slightly reformed. Although the reality is that Tunisian prisons are still full of people serving sentences of up to 25 years, the fact is that in March of that year, an amendment was introduced to the law according to which the judge could show some leniency in the case of that it was the first time for him to be tried. It’s very little? Okay, but less is nothing.

The law regulating the consumption, possession and sale of cannabis in Tunisia is the controversial ‘Law 52’, which reformers believe is destroying many human lives.

The international organization on human rights Human Rights Watch (HRW) has raised its voice on numerous occasions to denounce the draconian Tunisian laws on cannabis, which currently represents almost 30 percent of the country’s prison population. Human Rights Watch (HRW) unhesitatingly condemns Law 52 of the anti-government president and dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Amna Guellali, director in Tunisia of HRW affirms that the mere fact of smoking a joint implies being arrested, beaten by the police and sentenced to one year in jail in one of the overpopulated prisons of the country. But even the powers of the police go further. Even if you are not surprised consuming, if you suspect that you have done it, they can force you to do a urinalysis and if the result is positive, the consequences are the same.

In fact, 70 percent of drug convictions in Tunisia are for cannabis

A young man from the city of Sidi Bouzid says Tunisians have no future. The hopes created by the Arab Spring that ended with the dictator Ben Ali, and his expulsion in 2011, have come to nothing. The unemployment rate has risen to levels never before known. Youth is in the worst situation and many join jihadist groups. On the contrary, to others it leads to the consumption of zatla, the local name of cannabis, with the risk that this entails.

Anyone arrested for the use or possession of cannabis receives a minimum of one year in prison. And if it is a repeated offense, the criminal receives a minimum of 5 years. The judges do not contemplate the possibility of changing penalties for social work or alternative, less cruel sentences.

In its report for 2018 “All this for a seal”, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), based in New York, denounced the cost in lives of Law 52. In addition, the law prohibits judges from taking into account extenuating circumstances. It is not surprising that Tunisia’s prisons are full of marijuana smokers.

Almost a third of the prisoners convicted in the country were arrested for drug cases, mainly for being cannabis users.

The 33-page report, called “All this for a seal”, covers the following aspects:

The repressive law on drugs in Tunisia and how to reform it

Document violations of human rights and the serious effects of a social plan resulting from the current draconian drug law, according to which thousands of Tunisians are sentenced every year to prison terms simply for the consumption or possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

On the other hand, it is the first time that activists in Tunisia have called for the decriminalization of the consumption and cultivation of marijuana. The group is called “The Coalition for the Decriminalization of Cannabis Consumption”.

Tunisian activists have given their first press conference on May 16, 2019. The coalition is composed of just over 30 civil society activists who organize workshops with deputies, representatives of the government party and other activists.

Coalition party member Kareem Al-Sharawi said the coalition will begin work on a bill to decriminalize the cultivation and consumption of cannabis. Among other arguments, Kareem Al-Sharawi made reference to the Canadian model, according to which the decriminalization of cannabis had contributed to less abuse of hard drugs.

In April 2017, the Tunisian parliament approved the amendment of a law that currently imposes the penalty of one year in prison plus a fine to any citizen, national or foreign, who consumes or possesses cannabis. And the penalty is 5 years in the case of recidivism.

The amendment wants the judge to have the right not to impose prison on mere consumers. The president of Tunisia, Beji Caid Essebsi, promised before being elected in 2014, the modification of some aspects of the drug law in the country. But the reality is the same reality as that of the “Arab spring”. Behind the rebels who fought against dictators were Islamic fundamentalists hiding.

The country’s authorities must review the current law to eliminate all terms of the prison for the simple use or possession of drugs for recreational purposes.

The imposition of longer prison sentences for reasons related to the use, cultivation and sale of cannabis has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of young prisoners, according to Human Rights Watch. The economic and social burden of arresting and imprisoning so many thousands of people every year is too important. Tunisian prisons are already too overcrowded and hold up to 53 percent more inmates than their capacity. Each prisoner costs the state about $ 10.20 a day. Therefore, putting 5,200 cannabis users into prison per year costs the country up to $ 38 million.

Where and who to buy?

If even knowing all this you decide to risk it, the usual way to get some cannabis resin is through the waiters in the hotels where the Western foreigners are staying. The prices that we give you are indicative and depend on the quality and the place. The hash comes from Morocco and in general is of good quality.

If even knowing all this you decide to risk it, the usual way to get some cannabis resin is through the waiters in the hotels where the Western foreigners are staying. The prices that we give you are indicative and depend on the quality and the place. The Hash comes from Morocco and in general is of good quality.

28 grams of quality hashish: $ 5 (updated September 2018)

5 grams of quality for 5 dollars (August, 2018)

25 grams of good quality for 300 dollars (August 2018)

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