Red weed: Marijuana in the times of the Soviet Union

There are many people out there who still think the Soviet Union, being the cradle of communism, was a tolerant country with drugs considered “soft”.

This is a false myth. In fact although cannabis use was not strongly condemned, if it was something that Russian society did not approve because as it was a minor problem.

In fact all Soviet governments fought tirelessly against a much larger enemy: Alcohol.

The public consumption of alcohol was banned several times by the government, and propaganda posters used to encourage soviet citizens not to drink alcohol and become teetotalers.

Although hemp was cultivated as raw material for baskets and fabrics, massively since the times of Stalin, the use of cannabis to smoke was not popular in the big cities of Russia during the Soviet era.

Only in the republics considered “exotic” marijuana was used for medicinal purposes since many centuries, and also recreational. We must not forget that the origin of cannabis is in central Asia, in which existed, and still exists, an ancient tradition of using cannabis as medicine remedy for almost all diseases.

There were people arrested and sentenced to prison for the possession, use and sale of cannabis, but the greatest enemy of the Soviet Union in the field of drugs was alcohol. 

It was only during the early seventies of the past century when a minority of hippies started to use cannabis. The immigration of people from Central Asian republics to the cities like Moscow grew a lot during those period till the end of the eighties, causing that the immigrant people get in touch with people like artists and outsider intellectuals and they started to smoke marijuana.

It was a disjointed minority of people who want to escape a little from the gray bureaucrat routine of communism, and relate in a more humanistic way with others.

This should not be considered a crime anywhere. Quite the opposite, instead: Want to be happy and to show solidarity should be rewarded by the authorities.

Since 1992, with the fall of the Soviet regime, grass has become very popular among Russian youth, but alcohol still sadly remains the most popular legal drug, which kills 500,000 people each year, by effects of its consumption, according to the reports of Public Chamber of Russia from 2009.