10 Countries where weed Is Legal: A lot of people call it different names, weed, herb, marijuana, dope, pot, ganja, blunt, joint and many other things, but its actual name is really cannabis. Cannabis is a specie of the Cannabinaceae family of plants used as a psychoactive drug. The plant’s dried leaves, seed oil and other parts are used for the drug. The usage of the drug isn’t definite but research suggests that while it may have started being grown as far back as the 3rd millennia BC, its usage can only be traced back to 2,500 years ago.
Cannabis as a drug can be smoked, vaped, ate or even drank. Depending on the method it is used, effects of the drugs can be felt in a matter of minutes or it might take as long as ninety minutes for the user to start feeling the effects and it could last for up to six hours depending on the dosage. Whichever way it is used, it just serves one of two purposes; it can be used for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Effects of the drug are both mental and physical. The drugs can alter a user’s sense of time, make them have difficulty in concentrating. It can also cause an impaired short-term memory and affect psychomotor control, increase in appetite and euphoria.
Among the physical effects of the drug are increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing, nausea. When pregnant mothers take it, there might be some behavioral problems in their children later on.
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Countries & Places Where Weed is Legal Around the World
Despite its common usage (over 200 million people use it worldwide), the legality of cannabis is something a lot of individuals and groups have fought for. Some argue on the medicinal use of the drug, while also some use it for spiritual purposes. However, there are arguments that propose that marijuana should be legal as it is “healthier” than tobacco and cigarettes which are legal all over the world.
Some countries have made it legal both for recreational and medicinal use while a few countries have restricted the use only for medicinal purposes. Some other countries have not made it legal yet possession and usage of the drug has been decriminalized that is it is not considered a crime to be in possession of it and there are no criminal penalties for those caught with it, some other countries have it as being illegal but do not enforce it that is people are not penalized and law enforcement agencies usually ignore these laws.
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Countries where cannabis is legal for use include:
1. Uruguay: this South American nation is actually the first country to officially make the use and possession of cannabis for recreational and medical uses in its country legal. Although the country had decriminalized the possession of the drug as far back as the 1970s, in 2013, it passed a law that allows both citizens and foreigners to buy and grow their own drug.
Though to avoid abuse and indiscriminate use, they did put limitations and restrictions as users must be registered with the government and there is a limit to which they can buy in a week, 10 grams and purchases can only be made from pharmacies.
2. Canada: when legalizing the use of cannabis in Canada, the Canadian government had a set out objective they were trying to achieve. They wanted to keep the cannabis out of the hand of the underage youths, keep criminals from making profits from the drug sales and also to ensure public health and safety are protected.
By middle of 2018, the bill was passed into law and taking effect much later in the year, legalizing the use of cannabis in Canada both for recreational use and for medicinal purposes. However, to grow and sell the product one still need to be licensed by the authorities.
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3. Georgia: In 2018, former communist state Georgia legalized the use of cannabis both for recreational and medical use. Though by the law passed in the country, commercialization of the drug isn’t allowed, that is to say, cannabis isn’t for production and sales in a very large amount. It can only be produced and used for personal use and not in very large quantity.
The basis for legalizing the use of cannabis in Georgia was that the consumption of the drug was an action that comes under the right to free personality act and so the user can only harm his/herself so he or she is responsible for the outcome. The responsibility of such an action does not endanger the public and so it is possible for individuals to grow and use the drug personally but commercializing it and selling it to the general public is highly prohibited. It is also illegal to consume the drug in public places and in the presence of children in Georgia.
4. Malta: The first European Union nation to legalize the use of cannabis is Malta. The country said that by legalizing the drug, they are ensuring that the humiliation, suffering and the deprivation of other rights that users of cannabis experience will be reduced as they will no longer be subjected to arrest and judicial prosecution because they possess small amounts of the drug.
The law in Malta allows for people from the age of 18 and above to be in possession of not more than seven grams of cannabis while growers can store no more than 50 grams of dried marijuana. However, the consumption and use in public places as well as in the presence of children are highly illegal and defaulters are fined heavily.
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5. Mexico: In June of 2021, Mexico passed the law that allowed its citizens the possession and use of cannabis but only for personal use. This was the peak of a campaign that started in 2015 when the country’s apex court voted that preventing people from growing the drug for their own personal use is unlawful.
By this decree, possession (of not more than 5 grams), consumption and cultivation of the drug was permitted but it is still illegal to sell and commercialize the drug within the country.
6. South Africa: South Africa became the first African country to legalize the use and production of cannabis in 2018. The country’s department of Health while backing the bill to legalize the drug said that it is not appropriate to jail people and give them a criminal record for using cannabis, it said that the act violates human rights while also wasting state resources.
By passing the law, the recreational and medicinal use, cultivation and possession of the drug became legal but the sale is still prohibited as well as the use in public places and in the presence of children.
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7. Jamaica: the laws regulating cannabis in Jamaica is still a bit unclarified. While it is legal to be used for medicinal purposes, it has not yet been legalized for recreational use however it has been decriminalized if the amount is 57 grams or less for personal use and the country also permits individuals to cultivate five plants or less while citizens that are of the Rastafari religion are by law allowed to be in possession of the drug for religious purposes.
8. Columbia: once labelled the drug capital of the world, Columbia has had a long history of battling the illegal uses of various illicit drugs including cannabis and cocaine. However, the country started to relax its laws on drugs by first legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis in 2015 and later the country’s supreme court ruled that individuals could cultivate up to 20 plants of cannabis for their personal use without any legal retributions.
The government had officially decriminalized the possession of the cannabis drug for up to 20 grams. Part of the aim of the government while decriminalizing the possession and use of the drug was to deny criminal organizations the “benefits of the cannabis economy”.
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9. Israel: The laws in Israel stipulates that the possession of cannabis in homes and private places as well as possession for use for medical purposes are totally legal. However, it is a non-criminal offense that could be punished by fines if possessed and used in public places and or in the presence of under aged individuals.
The Israeli government said the aim of legalizing and decriminalizing possession of this drug was to stop the law from prosecuting users who don’t harm other people.
10. Czech Republic: Since 2010, possession of up to 10 grams of the cannabis drug in the Czech Republic was decriminalized and is not considered a crime that will earn citizens criminal prosecution, also the citizens are allowed to cultivate up to 5 plants for personal use without prosecution as long as they don’t sell or commercialize their product and defaulter are only fined a minimal amount without judicial proceedings. In 2013, it became legal to use the drug for medicinal purposes.
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More countries are buying into the ideas of legalizing the use of cannabis both for recreation and medical uses. Most countries however, are cautious in their approach to the use of the drug and they prefer to decriminalize it first, then proceed to making its medical use legal. They will now gauge its effect and impact on the society before finally deciding on its stance towards legalizing the medicine.
Some countries with more robust values understand some of the laws prohibiting the use of cannabis is not only unconstitutional but to some extent violates the human right privileges of users especially when they are not harmful or affecting non-users of the drug and so they more lenient with regulations about the use of the drug.
Generally more countries are leaning towards decriminalizing the use of the drug than totally making its presence in their country completely legal, this way they can regulate the drug and its usage without infringing on the rights and privileges of citizens.
Edeh Samuel Chukwuemeka ACMC, is a Law Student and a Certified Mediator/Conciliator in Nigeria. He is also a Developer with knowledge in HTML, CSS, JS, PHP and React Native. Samuel is bent on changing the legal profession by building Web and Mobile Apps that will make legal research a lot easier.