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Around The World in a Heady Haze: cannabis legality around the globe
As Canada has set the standard for G7 nations to fully legalize cannabis they aren’t the first nation to do it. There are great little hotspots and cool zones all around our little globe. Care to plan a cannabis friendly galavant beyond our borders? Let’s have a peak at some places that won’t give you the hassle of sitting in a prison cell for smoking your favourite flowers.
Heading south for the birthplace of tango or just to walk around sipping a “cuia” of Mate like the locals? Why not roll one up to get an appetite for a ‘chivito’ sandwich? Uruguay is the first sovereign nation in the world to legalize cannabis, but only for their own citizens. It was finally legalized, however, after not really being criminalized on a personal scale in the first place. It’s a very limited market for such a widely used substance in the nation. The government legalized growing up to six plants at home and the formation of registered “growing clubs” that were eventually permitted to grow up to 99 plants annually. Finally in 2017 the state run dispensary regime implemented the retail component of the law and pharmacies began to distribute the product. 16 pharmacies became the authorized distributors, allowed to sell to the some 5000 registered users. Each user must be a citizen aged 18 or older and has a monthly cap of 40 grams. The sale is validated with identification, registration and a fingerprint scanner.
Over the better half of a decade Canada’s neighbour to the south has been relaxing on prohibition in increments. Even though any product with over 0.3% THC is federally considered illegal under the controlled substances act of 1970, there are currently 10 states, the district of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands that you can comfortably consume in including:
The law differs for each state in regards to consumption, but all allow for consumption at licensed locations like distributor designated smoking areas, or “clubs” with glassy eyed patrons billowing out the doors in plumes of smoke, while the law in some also states that public consumption is prohibited, preventing consumers from smoking outside of their personal residence. This makes it easier for some tourists who don’t have access to their own private residence and are still looking for the legal experience.
In Spain it is very legal to cultivate and consume cannabis, except in public. If caught you could face a 300 euro fine. So keep it in your own home or private property and make sure that cultivation is not in view of the public. You can also find yourself smoking in one of the 700+ clubs in the country provided you are at least 21 years old and have a Spanish passport–in other words: Spanish citizens only. Having said all this, you can definitely find people smoking outside of bars in larger cities and it’s even sold openly in the streets without a second look from the locals, but keep in mind this is illegal conduct. Don’t go getting yourself into trouble in another nation.
Illegal but not Criminal
Amsterdam has been the shining beacon of tolerance for cannabis consumers for some time now. While it is technically illegal, in 1972 it was deemed a less dangerous substance and to be caught carrying under 30 grams would only get you slapped with a misdemeanor. There is now approved legislation for the professional cultivation of cannabis. Recreational use in the coffee shops has been permitted since 1976 with only certain local “shops” openly selling the product as long as patrons aren’t carrying more than 5 grams on them. Here’s where things get a little hazy– It is illegal for “coffeeshops” to buy the cannabis. The owners of the shops have to hire a third party to go and buy it for them (at no more that 500g) and sneak it in through the back door. Once it’s in and it is in fact below the 500g limit, the authorities pay it no mind. Carrying less than 5 grams for personal use is decriminalized but if the authorities want to they will confiscate it–often at the border or if you are causing trouble. Needless to say though illegal, the Netherlands are probably your best stop to not getting into trouble for openly smoking.
Recreational cannabis is illegal in Jamaica but in 2015 the government voted to amend their cannabis laws. Possession of small amounts is only a petty offense and usually doesn’t result in a criminal record. A small amount equal to 56.6 grams. That’s two ounces. The cultivation of no more than five plants is permitted and the practitioners of the Rastafari faith may consume for their religious reasons. The government will continue to prosecute traffickers and zero in on the international trade of cannabis. The only hope for tourists would be those travelling with their medical cannabis prescription papers. They may apply for local permits to purchase in small amounts. Where would you buy this legal medical grade flower, you ask? Check in with Kaya Farms in St. Ann. Don’t have a prescription from a doctor here in Canada? They have one who can write it for you.
There are a little over a dozen other countries that we could talk about who have decriminalized our favourite flower or made headway with legalizing medicinal use of the plant. The world is changing and the lawmakers are waking up to the benefits.
4. Costa Rica
2. Czech Republic
Other spots around the world have changed their policies too. Places like South Africa, or closer to home like Mexico. Thailand is recently the first southeastern asian country to legalize medical cannabis.
Now after all this remember to do your own proper research when it comes to smoking abroad. Legislation in every country changes constantly– sometimes for good, sometimes for worse– and the trouble free side often only applies to citizens. Do your best to stay up to date and stay out of trouble.