Countries That Made Marijuana Legal
Many countries are moving towards legalizing the use of cannabis. For frequent travelers who either enjoy the use of recreational marijuana or use it to treat a medical ailment, it is important to stay informed on the legal status of marijuana to make sure a puff doesn’t land them in prison. Many countries have decriminalized marijuana or are notoriously lax when it comes to enforcing marijuana laws (think Canada and the Netherlands). However, a stroke of bad luck could result in a lofty fine. Here is a list of 8 countries where marijuana is, in fact, legal under certain circumstances.
Uruguay is a small South American country nestled between Brazil and Argentina. It is an exemplary country within Latin America in terms of economy, prosperity, and personal safety of its citizens and low crime rates. It legalized marijuana for personal use in 2012, as a strategy to reduce violent crime and fight the drug-related cartels for which South America is so notorious. Anyone can grow up to six plants in their home and the price for a gram averages about 1 US dollar. Purchasers must be registered and all sales and purchases must go through the government.
When people think of Spain, they tend to think of matadors, sangria and beautiful beaches, but, surprisingly, Spain is one of the most pot-friendly countries in Europe. It is legal to grow and smoke weed in private, from which creative business owners have extended by creating private, member-only clubs, where Cannabis is permitted. Often, possession and use of small amounts of marijuana in public will also be ignored. It is also legal to buy seeds and oils. Selling marijuana remains a crime and offenders will be prosecuted as drug traffickers.
Growing and consuming marijuana for medical purposes is legal in Australia. Doctors can prescribe marijuana as a treatment. Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal, but has been decriminalized in most Australian states, with penalties ranging state to state from fines to drug counseling sessions. However, as in many countries that have decriminalized cannabis use, it is extremely unlikely that anyone would actually be prosecuted for possessing a small amount of cannabis.
Thanks to the reggae music culture and the worldwide popularity that the genre has realized, people have always thought that marijuana is legal in Jamaica. However, until very recently this wasn’t true. Only last year, Jamaica legalized medical marijuana and marijuana for religious use. Jamaica remains the only country that has legalized cannabis for religious use, as “Rastafari” is a common religion in Jamaica and Rastafarians promote use of cannabis to achieve a state of meditation. Marijuana has still not been legalized for recreational use in Jamaica; however, it has been decriminalized. The maximum punishment for 2 ounces of marijuana is a fine of about $5 and an individual can grow up to 5 plants in their homes.
5. Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, medical marijuana is legal. Anyone with a valid prescription can legally purchase marijuana. Marijuana for recreational use is illegal, but has been decriminalized, as long as an individual does not possess more than ten grams. Growing marijuana is illegal, but a license can be acquired to grow up to five plants for medicinal purpose, as there are no legal retail options in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has seen a rise in coffee shops similar to the famous ones in Amsterdam; however, they are often systematically raided and shut down.
6. United States of America
Marijuana in the USA is illegal at a federal level, but individual states can decide to decriminalize or legalize marijuana independently. Indian reservations are also free to self-regulate on the subject of cannabis both being grown on and consumed on their land, although it should be noted that it has been reported that many crops on Indian Reservations have been destroyed by law enforcement despite this supposed independence. The Suquamish tribe in Washington became the first native tribe to operate a cannabis retail store on their reservation in 2015. Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have fully legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use. Marijuana possession is still criminal in Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia. All other states have either decriminalized marijuana possession or have legalized medical marijuana.
It is legal in Chile to consume cannabis in private, at home. A bill allowing Chileans to own up to six pot plants for medical, religious and recreational purposes is in the process of going through the Chilean senate. Medical marijuana is legal in Chile and pharmacies are allowed to sell medications that have some cannabis-derived substances in them. Marijuana is extremely popular and commonly used in Chile and Chile is home to Latin America’s biggest medical marijuana farm.
Medical marijuana is legal in Colombia. Due to the country’s history of drug-related crime and drug cartels, Colombia previously had strict drug control laws even concerning use of marijuana. In 2015, the country decided to legalize possession, growing and transportation of marijuana for pharmaceutical purposes. Users will need a prescription and growing and transporting cannabis requires special licenses. Since 2012, it has been legal to possess and grow small amounts of marijuana for private consumption, but sales, as well as use in a public places, is illegal.
In conclusion, the world is fast becoming more tolerant of marijuana, especially concerning medical marijuana, as it is a harm-reduced treatment option for a wide variety of medical conditions. Although many countries have decriminalized it, the countries listed above have taken the extra step to legalize cannabis for medical and sometimes even recreational use. These are courageous steps to take as it points to evidence that their governments are finally acknowledging the therapeutic effects of marijuana, as well as the fact that it is not a sinister or dangerous substance. Hopefully, governments all over the world will soon follow suit and legitimize pot products instead of turning a blind eye or taking a lax approach to enforcement, as the direction that these countries have taken seems to have been a positive and forward-thinking action.