The world is starting to understand that there are many benefits to marijuana. As a result, marijuana legalization seems to be the buzzword of the moment and countless states and countries are adapting their laws in order to accommodate this drug. Weed legalization is still rare, but it is becoming increasingly common.
But which countries have legalized marijuana; which states have embraced medical marijuana; and where can you go to enjoy a smoke without the fear of reprisal? In this article on marijuana legalization we hope to answer those questions and more, clearing up what has become a very hazy topic and making sense of laws that seem to contradict themselves at times.
Legalization of Weed: Pros and Cons
There are many reasons for and against the legalization of marijuana. In many cases, the balance is tipped heavily into the “for”. But politics keeps it back in mot countries, which is why cannabis is illegal is most countries around the world.
To show you what we mean, we is a quick look at the pros and cons for the legalization of weed:
Pros for the Legalization of Marijuana
- Money: There is a huge amount of money in this drug. If it was taxed then the government would make a small fortune from it every year. According to Forbes, the marijuana industry was worth nearly $7 billion in 2016. That’s because as well as taxing the end user, they are also taxing the corporations involved. Many governments can control this area as well, getting all of the money. And that’s before you factor in the extra tourist income, not to mention all those Kit-Kat sales.
- Health: There is a lot of positive research being done on this drug and the health effects are fairly positive when used in a controlled environment. It can help those in a lot of pain; it can help those with Parkinson’s Disease. There are also suggestions that it might be able to slow cancer growth.
- Research: Because the legalization of cannabis in many US states, more research is being done into the positive effects of this drug. As a result, we’re discovering just how powerful it can be and a lot of potential is being unlocked. There is more to cannabis than THC and thanks to the legalization of weed we’re discovering what magic these additional components can weave.
Cons for the Legalization of Marijuana
- Mental Health: Marijuana causes problems in those with preexisting mental health conditions as well as those susceptible to it. It may trigger psychosis and it may hurt those with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
- Young Minds: Cannabis use in underage people will likely hurt development and growth. Obviously there would be age restrictions on its use if weed was legalized, but kids would still get hold of it and that could cause serious damage for many of them.
- Smoking: More and more people are giving up cigarettes and getting healthier for it. If we legalized weed then we would be giving people reasons to smoke again. There are other ways to consume this drug. But that’s the main way and cannabis smoke can still cause cancer and other problems.
Marijuana Legalization: Which Countries have Legalized Weed?
The number is probably much smaller than you might think, simply because cannabis is not strictly “legal”, even in countries that have a tolerant reputation. In Uruguay, cannabis is legal, and you can grow, deal or smoke until your heart’s content. However, this is one of the only countries with such relaxed laws.
A more apt question to ask is “Where is cannabis decriminalized?”, in which case the Netherlands, Chile, Spain, some US states and Jamaica all fit the bill.
Which Countries Have the Strictest Cannabis Laws?
In the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and across much of the middle-east, you can get into a lot of trouble if found in possession of even a small amount of cannabis. The same applies to most drugs, even a number of those readily available over-the-counter in the UK (codeine included).
These regions are tightening their drug laws at a time that other countries are loosening theirs. This is likely a result of an unwillingness to accommodate outsiders who try to being their drugs into the country and have no respect for the laws of said countries. Even alcohol is prohibited throughout much of the Middle-East and they take a very hard-line on foreigners who are caught disobeying these rules.
Cannabis laws are also strict in China, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, to name just a few. It is likely that these countries will start to relax the laws once they see how much money can be made and once more promising research begins to come out of the United States. However, it is also possible that they will do nothing. After all, many positive reports are already out there and they have been there since Amsterdam relaxed the marijuana laws.
US States that Legalized Marijuana
The roadmap of marijuana legalization in the US is constantly changing. More states are looking at the lessons learned by states like Colorado—which has made a fortune from medical marijuana legalization—and they are jumping on the bandwagon. As of 2017 the following US states have legalized marijuana in one form or another:
- Alaska: In Alaska is is legal to use and possess anywhere up to an ounce of marijuana. But only if you are above the age of 21.
- California: This was the first state to legalize marijuana, which they did back in 1996. However, there will be no place to legally buy marijuana in California up until early 2018. Prior to this you could consume medical marijuana and there were few penalties for people who smoked this drug recreationally.
- Colorado: Apparently there are more marijuana dispensaries in the state of Colorado than there are Starbucks. This state is often seen as the poster child of marijuana legislation in the United States and indeed all over the world. That’s because of those dispensaries and the availability of the drug here.
- Maine: It is legal to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of weed in Maine, making it one of the most accommodating states for marijuana legalization in the New England region.
- Massachusetts: Small amounts of weed can be carried and citizens can grow up to a dozen plants in their own home.
- Nevada: It is legal to possess up to an ounce of pot in Nevada. This is a fairly recent development.
- Oregon: It is legal to carry up to an ounce of weed in Oregon and to grow a few plants at home.
- Washington: There are many marijuana dispensaries in the state of Washington and the drug is smoked freely throughout the state.
- Washington, DC: Non-medical marijuana has been legalized here since late 2014.
Cannabis in the UK
Cannabis is the most common illegal drug in the UK. It is technically illegal to possess and is listed as a Class B drug (it has been listed as a Class C in the past) but in many cases users will simply have their drugs confiscated. However, they may face further discipline if they are repeatedly caught in possession of the drug; if they have a large quantity of it; or if they are suspected of dealing or cultivating it.
Many teenagers admit to having tried cannabis. But fewer than 1 in 5 cannabis users aged between 16 and 24 admit to using the drug in the last year. This suggests that while many are trying it, most of them are not frequent smokers. However, there are many users out there who take the drug regularly.