Marijuana in Aceh, a Fight between Tradition and Legality


Marijuana or cannabis has already been banned in Indonesia since 1927, during the Dutch colonial era. Today, you can get a minimum sentence of four years in prison if caught in possession of cannabis. However, in Aceh, cannabis had a very deep and important cultural impact until the legal hammer crushed them.

A ganja plantation. via Instagram/riotrifalymatraa_

Cannabis does have mental and physical effects as it contains several psychoactive compounds such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabinoids. However, traditionally, cannabis is just a normal herb for Acehnese. Here is the history of ganja, the other name of marijuana in Aceh.

History of Marijuana in Aceh

Aceh has a long history with weed. via Instagram/weedgirl_lace

Just like in many South and East Asian countries, Acehnese saw cannabis as a mere herb with some good properties. Acehnese used all parts of marijuana for their daily lives. The plant was used as a seasoning and herbal ointment for some illness. Traditionally, they didn’t use the psychoactive properties of ganja at all. However, in the last few decades, many mafias plant a lot of ganja as a drug, which is a huge crime in the country. This gives ganja the bad name.

Marijuana in Aceh Culinary

Marijuana seeds are great seasoning. via Instagram/lgn_amboinense

Traditionally, Acehnese uses marijuana for their meat-based foods. They believe that ganja can also help tenderize meat quicker, making the flavor absorption better. Ganja also has a property to make the dish more savory. In other words, this herb makes strengthen the flavor of the dish. In the past, people just plant ganja in pots in front of their houses for this exact reason. It’s illegal now.

Marijuana dishes

Kuah Beulangong. via Instagram/fitrianisamidan

Cannabis was the key herb in cooking meat in Aceh and nearby areas. Furthermore, ganja used to be vital for meaty dishes like gulai or curry. Additionally, kuah Beulanngong uses beef and young jackfruit as the main ingredients. This is a typical gulai with thick soup and really savory taste. Ganja was always used before the government made it illegal.

The legality of ganja

Ganja is absolutely illegal in Indonesia. via Instagram/weedgirl_lace

Aceh is popular as the producer of illegal ganja in Indonesia. Once in a while, you’d hear about the police bust a ganja delivery worth billions of rupiahs. However, in the last few years, there are several groups and organizations that strive to urge the government to legalize ganja.

Ganja in the outdoor. via Instagram/melawanadalahkunci

As of now, ganja is seen as an addictive drug that poses dangers to Indonesian. The punishment can be really severe for those who are caught in possession of ganja. You should stay away from marijuana if you’re in Indonesia. However, things used to be different, especially in Aceh.

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