1870 CE
Cannabis prohibited in southern Africa

By 1870 Indian labourers were being sent throughout the British Empire to meet the labour demands in the colonies. These Indian labourers are often referred to in colonial documents as "coolies." These workers took with them their use of cannabis substances. But in southern Africa, the local people had already been using cannabis for a long time.

In 1870, the Natal Colony passed the Coolie Law "prohibiting the smoking, use, or possession by, and the sale, barter or gift to, any coolies whatsoever, of any portion of the hemp plant (cannabis sativa), and authorising the destruction thereof, if found in such use or possession, and imposing penalties upon coolies using, cultivating or possessing such plant for the purpose of smoking the same."

It seems the government was concerned about their Indian labour force. These concerns included their efficiency as workers, their obedience as subjects and their relationships with African neighbours.

Source: Mills, J. (2007) "Colonial Africa and the international politics of cannabis," in Drugs and Empires.

Drugs: Cannabis (marijuana)
Regions: Africa
Topics: Prohibition