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Estonia is in northern Europe, just south of Finland and just west of Russia. It was part of the USSR until 1991, when it declared its independence. Sten Hankewitz, writing in Estonian World, tells us that when several small districts in the Kanepi region recently merged into one, it was decided they needed a new official coat of arms and flag. 

The region’s name comes from kanep, the Estonian word for hemp, which has been grown there for hundreds of years.

Hemp is the form of cannabis that is used for industrial purposes, mostly cloth, rope, and oil. It is not the psychoactive form of cannabis that we know as marijuana. According to the council, records show Kanepi farmers have used a cannabis leaf as their growers’ co-op symbol for 150 years. To choose their new flag, the Kanepi district council held a special contest where 23 different works of art were submitted in a preliminary round. Officials picked seven finalists and put them up for a vote. One was the 150-year old icon featuring a cannabis leaf.

Modern times being what they are, the council conducted the vote online. 

Of the 15,000 who voted, more than 12,000 chose the cannabis symbol. The council chairman said the process “was very democratic,” in spite of the fact there are only 5,000 residents in the region. According to Reuters, the council submitted the winning logo to Estonia’s heraldry commission, where it was granted national approval.

Harry Anslinger, the notorious demonizer of marijuana in the 1930s, must be rolling in his grave.

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