The ‘weed war’: Thousands of marijuana growers, drug users in Cuba get suspended sentences

More than 20 activists were blocked at home in Havana on Thursday, in what appeared to be the government’s most dramatic action to suppress dissent since a tense period in 2017, when the international community looked on as hundreds of people were arrested or detained.

Activists have tried to stop officials from planting the scent of marijuana in a neighborhood where opponents of the government are growing marijuana plants, concerned the odor could make young people jealous, another reason they claim the regime has targeted marijuana users. Cannabis is used by many Cubans for medical and recreational purposes, and the cannabis industry has boomed in recent years.

But activists say the government is also using it as a pretext to silence critics. It is what critics have dubbed the “weed war.”

The protests came as the United States and Cuba are trying to lower tensions that have strained for decades. The United States last month restored diplomatic relations with Cuba after half a century. U.S. President Donald Trump began to ease some restrictions on the trade with the country in 2018.

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