A certain proportion of marijuana is touted to have health benefits, but nevertheless, its sale and usage aren’t yet legal in most countries. In India too, the usage of cannabis or marijuana is prohibited, however, small proportions of it are permitted in the form of bhang in certain states, which are used to prepare thandais, lassis and sweets. A few states like Varanasi have approved the usage of weed. Having said that, did you know that there are certain countries where marijuana is actually legal? In these countries, one can light up a joint without any worries.
The legality of cannabis for medical and recreational use varies by country, in terms of its possession, distribution, and cultivation, and (in regards to medical) how it can be consumed and what medical conditions it can be used for. These policies in most countries are regulated by three United Nations treaties: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Single Convention treaty, meaning that signatories can allow medical use but that it is considered to be an addictive drug with a serious risk of abuse.
Countries and territories that have legalized medical use of cannabis include Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Others have more restrictive laws that allow only the use of certain cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals, such as Sativex, Marinol, or Epidiolex. In the United States, 36 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level its use remains prohibited for any purpose.
On October 17, 2018, Canada legalized recreational marijuana in full. Growers can get licensed by the federal government, and then individual provinces determine how the product gets distributed and sold. It isn’t heavily advertised though — the attitude here is that the government will sign off, but not promote.
In Canada, people who are 18 years old or above are legally allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in its dried or non-dried form in public. They are also allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants at home from legal seedlings. However, you can only buy cannabis from provincially-licensed retailers and federally-licensed producers.
The United States
Should you smoke here? It depends
Surely the most mismatched category of laws state-by-state across this bipolar land of ours are the marijuana statues. In some you may smoke without fear; in some, you must have a demonstrated ailment to avail yourself of a plant so easy to grow that it’s known as “weed”; in others, carrying so much as a few puffs’ worth of bud can get you thrown into prison, where you’ll share exercise equipment with rapists and serial arsonists.
European countries have varying laws concerning marijuana.
In the Netherlands, people have been selling marijuana in coffee shops since the 1970s. Marijuana use is decriminalized, but citizens must not cause a disturbance while under the influence, and businesses can not sell more than five grams of marijuana to a customer at a time.
Marijuana laws are relaxed in Portugal, and those who are charged with marijuana possession more than once will likely receive rehab instead of jail time.
In Spain, individuals can not use marijuana in public without being fined. Most people in Spain who use marijuana do so privately, and have formed social clubs as a way to avoid using marijuana in public.
France has strict but changing marijuana laws. People who are caught consuming marijuana could receive spot fines, might be required to take a drug awareness class and could spend up to a year in prison (though jail time is rare). However, France is also piloting a medical cannabis program giving patients free marijuana starting in March 2021.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Germany since 2017. Individuals who are unauthorized to possess or use marijuana are not likely to face jail time if they only have a small amount.
South Africa is quite chill about the consumption of marijuana. The country’s Constitutional Court had, in fact, decriminalised the possession, growing and usage of weed by adults in private in 2018. However, buying, selling and usage of weed outside private spaces is still prohibited here.
Should you smoke here? Ask again later
This one’s messy. There are frequently reports that marijuana is fully legal in North Korea, but a lot of this comes from a lack of information in general — i.e., not hearing anything about it not being legal to smoke, which is obviously not the same as smoking being legal. However, smoking ditchweed does seem to be prevalent and culturally accepted. Not that this has any implications for you personally because you’re not even thinking about going there, ya dummy.
Jamaica is commonly associated with marijuana, but the country didn’t decriminalize weed until 2015. Although cannabis is still illegal, possession under 2 ounces for personal use is decriminalized (though small fines might be issued). Medical marijuana is available and Rastafarians are allowed to possess and use marijuana for religious ceremonies.
Should you smoke here? Most likely
You might have expected something a bit more stringent from Russia, but the government has decriminalized grass in amounts up to 6 grams. The country recently allowed World Cup fans coming in from other countries to bring their medical marijuana. And, uh, their medical cocaine and medical heroin.
Which countries have the strictest cannabis laws?
Malaysia arguably has the strictest cannabis laws. Residents who are found with 200 grams or more of marijuana may receive the death penalty.
Singapore has very strict marijuana laws, as well. Citizens and visitors are not even allowed to chew gum there. According to Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act, the burden of proof is the responsibility of the defendant. Anyone caught with weed in the country will most likely be penalized.
In the United Arab Emirates, you could face up to four years in prison authorities find even a trace of marijuana on your person or property.