Cannabis In Other Countries: The Better and the Worse

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Many are broadly aware of current cannabis news trends: When in the United States, the topic is typically about legalization and the trials involved with industry growth, and when in other countries, the news often covers a specific person who’s in trouble for testing positive or traveling with cannabis. A recent example of this was news from Russia, where U.S. basketball superstar Brittney Griner was detained. With such extreme examples, many travelers are left wondering: where is weed recreationally legal in the world?

First, the unfortunate news. The list below contains countries where the law allows for extreme punishments for cannabis, paraphernalia and/or testing positive for THC. In short, when you’re traveling abroad, make sure you carefully research destinations down to regions and even individual townships before purchasing and consuming cannabis in any form.

  1. China: Cannabis is illegal and the laws around punishment are dangerously hazy.
  2. Egypt: Up to one year in prison and a fine for possession. Trafficking is punishable by death; in 2013, a 74-year-old British citizen was sentenced to death for cannabis trafficking.
  3. Iran: Laws here are also precariously nebulous, but according to data on executions from human rights non-governmental organizations, the Iranian government executed 3,975 people who had committed crimes related to the possession or sale of drugs between 2008 and 2018.
  4. Malaysia: Penalties begin at up to 10 years in prison for possession of less than 50 grams of cannabis.
  5. Philippines: As a non sequitur, the first offense is minor; however, a second offense holds the true retribution of a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six years.
  6. Russia: Even possession of one gram can lead to a fine, compulsory labor, corrective labor and prison time.
  7. Saudi Arabia: Penalties include up to six months in prison and corporal punishment. Penalties for cannabis trafficking include two to 10 years in prison. The illegal sale of large quantities can lead to capital punishment.
  8. Singapore: Individuals convicted of possession face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. Trafficking, importing or exporting more than 500 grams could result in the death penalty. A recent incident of a death sentence occurred in 2021.
  9. Turkey: Consumption can lead to jail time for up to five years. Production or trafficking is a minimum of ten years.
  10. United Arab Emirates: The mandatory minimum sentence is four years in prison if found with a trace of cannabis, plus a fine of more than $36,000.

Next, the good news: countries where weed is legal beyond Canada, the most well-known areas and the ever-evolving United States. Utilize caution, however, when trusting strangers, considering public consumption, and traveling across borders.

  1. Argentina: Personal use is actually a constitutional right here. A slang term used here: parango.
  2. Cambodia & Laos: Illegal, yet highly tolerated; for example, any restaurant dish or menu marked “happy” means it’s likely cannabis-infused.
  3. Costa Rica: Although cannabis is technically illegal, there are no penalties for possession or use.
  4. Jamaica: decriminalized in 2015.
  5. Malta: Up to seven grams is legal as of December 2021.
  6. Mexico: While currently decriminalized, keep a close eye on legalization news, as the government is moving in that direction. A slang term used here: marimba.
  7. Portugal: All drugs are decriminalized. Portugal is one of very few countries where drugs are legal. Maconha is the Portuguese word for pot.
  8. South Africa: Personal consumption by adults in private homes is decriminalized.
  9. Uruguay: Just have to officially register with the government, then pharmacy purchasing is available. Don’t buy anything being called bosta.
  10. Vienna: While still illegal, possession of small amounts for personal use is generally allowed.

Best weed in the world

Finally, the best news. These countries offer what is considered to be the best weed in the world, based on growing conditions and history, in no particular order. Who knows which area will emerge as the world’s best cannabis growers as the international attitude generally relaxes?

  • Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • The Netherlands
  • Colombia
  • United States
  • Afghanistan
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Nigeria

The answer to “where is weed legal?” changes often. However, the general consensus is toward legalization, and when this isn’t the case, it’s toward tolerance. As the world reconsiders cannabis, opportunities abound in the United States and beyond. 

Continue your journey with CannaCon, the nation’s leading business-to-business cannabis conference. Our goal is to grow the cannabis industry by educating cannabis business owners on all things related to cannabis and CBD. Our trade shows feature a large exhibition hall with vendors from around the country and seminars delivered by industry experts.

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