Marijuana truly is a worldwide phenomenon. Despite laws and repercussions for consumption or possession, it is difficult to come across a country without a cannabis community. Every country on every continent on the planet has different views on marijuana—for some, progression is the norm. For others, outright prohibition. And in the case of one continent, no laws at all. If you’re preparing for a trip to a different continent or just curious about acceptance worldwide, here’s some information on cannabis around the globe.
North America is by far the cannabis continent of the world. While not all states and provinces have relaxed marijuana laws, the ones that do are setting the stage for marijuana reform. North America is home to our dear Colorado, which has fully embraced cannabis reform with full legalization for those 21 and over and is now home to a booming industry innovating the framework for future legalization.
Other states in the U.S. are following suit like Washington, Oregon and Alaska with fully legal cannabis. America’s neighbor to the North, Canada, has multiple cannabis-friendly cities like Vancouver and Toronto, who have decriminalized the plant and host a cannabis-friendly population. Our recommendation to worldwide cannabis travelers: if you are coming to North America with the intention of enjoying marijuana, stick to the West Coast. You won’t be disappointed.
South America has decriminalized or loosely regulated cannabis in most countries. Peru largely considers marijuana legal among locals—assuming the local doesn’t possess other drugs of obscene qualities. Similarly, the South American nation of Ecuador allows for small amounts of marijuana possession and may also be on its way to legalizing marijuana—the president has already issued a handful of pardons to drug offenders, hinting at a more laid-back view of the substance.
The continent of Asia has an interesting spattering of cannabis laws, which is unsurprising considering its size. For example, China carried extremely strict fines for marijuana use and possession with penalties of up to three years in prison. In contrast, India has loosened marijuana laws for religious purposes stemming from the history of the Veda people. According to the Vedas, cannabis is a sacred plant and is referred to as a source of happiness and joy, a liberator, and was used to obtain delight and lose fear — principles akin to the newly founded Church of Cannabis in Indiana, US.
Everyone knows about Amsterdam in the Netherlands where buying up to five grams a day is legal. No one will bat an eye if you light up in a public park or a famous coffee shop. However, not all of Europe is this casual about marijuana use. Greece, for example, is tough on cannabis users: toking up in this country could land you with some jail time. Other countries like Germany and Belgium are walking down the road of legalization by enacting minimal punishment for cannabis use.
Australian states differ in their laws: while cannabis use in some areas is decriminalized, it is entirely illegal in others. Marijuana is decriminalized in the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Northern Territory. These laws, however, only apply to small amounts of cannabis and non-hydroponic plants in South Australia. Stricter marijuana laws exist in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. Punishment in these areas includes both fines and jail time.
Africa has a long history with marijuana dating back to the 14th century indigenous people. Ancient tribes acquired marijuana through their Arab neighbors due to poor marijuana growing conditions in the region. Currently, cannabis is illegal and carries a punishment of jail time in many countries like Egypt. Within South Africa, a reform movement is beginning to take hold using many of the same arguments western nations have used to sway government policy.
Oh, Antarctica: home to penguins, whales and the coldest, windiest and driest climate. Two things Antarctica is not home to? People or a governing body. With a zero permanent population, this continent might be the most barren and unforgiving—and the most badass place to get high in the world. In terms of law in Antarctica, there technically are none—however, if you do commit a crime you are charged under the law of your home country. But good luck getting arrested: there’s no one there to catch you (except maybe a couple of researchers and some penguins).
Featured image Janaka Dharmasena