Cannabis Laws Around the World: Where Can You Go to Get High Legally?

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Over the centuries, cannabis has inspired a variety of interesting reactions in cultures around the world. For much of the drug’s history, it was revered as a sacred herb that was essential to spiritual ceremonies, but within the last century alone, it has become an evil substance capable of inspiring crime and disorder and worthy of serious consequences like long jail sentences and steep fines.

Slowly but surely, some countries are changing their perspective on cannabis and allowing their citizens greater access to the drug — but this isn’t happening at the same pace everywhere. Here are a few choice examples of cannabis laws around the world, so you can better understand where it is safe to buy weed and get high.

In 2018, Canada became the first “major world economy” to legalize recreational, adult-use marijuana on a nationwide basis. A campaign promise from the country’s PM Justin Trudeau, legalizing weed was researched in depth by several task forces before Canada was ready to develop the exact letter of the law. Adult-use marijuana regulations in Canada are strict in some ways, especially when it comes to what products are available (some provinces restrict access to edibles, for example) and where users can partake (largely in private residences though some weed-friendly hotels are opening up), but liberal in others, ensuring that cities cannot outlaw the sale of marijuana and ensuring that anyone over 18 can smoke legally in specified locations.

Though Canada has earned high praise, in truth the first country in the world to legalize weed was Uruguay, back in 2013 — even before states like Colorado and Washington had mobilized their legal weed regulations. However, legal weed is only available to Uruguayan citizens and permanent residents, and even then, it is currently sold at only a handful of pharmacies and private clubs. Still, considering that there has been almost no backlash against the legalization of weed in Uruguay, it is a fascinating case for pot-progressive politicians elsewhere.

Despite the fact that the Federal Government continues to label marijuana as a dangerous, Schedule I drug, the U.S. remains one of the best places in the world to get legal, recreational cannabis goods. There are dozens of ways to find legal cannabis for adult use in the U.S. In California, for example, if you search for “adult-use marijuana dispensaries near me in San Francisco,” you’ll find plenty of results. Some states that have ostensibly legalized recreational cannabis make it a bit more difficult for users to access the drug, perhaps by limiting licenses or restricting products, but these regulations will likely loosen in the coming years.

Though Jamaican culture seems founded on marijuana, the country was once firmly committed to keeping cannabis illegal for adult, recreational use — until now. Currently, the drug has been decriminalized, so you can safely possess up to two ounces of weed as soon as you disembark from your Caribbean cruise. However, you can enjoy a bit more of the good green herb if you convert to Rastafarianism. Because weed is sacred in the Rastafarian religion, practitioners can grow their own cannabis crops and partake of the good herb unmolested by police.

Another place with a culture spiritually linked to marijuana, India also maintains laws prohibiting cannabis sale, possession and use — and unlike Jamaica, it doesn’t seem to be budging any time soon. India boasts some of the oldest texts that mention using marijuana as a psychoactive substance; the Atharvaveda lists “hemp” as one of five sacred herbs.

Indian hemp drink bhang lassi

Today, cultivation of cannabis for industrial use (i.e. hemp used for textiles) or for the consumption of leaves and seeds is legal, but flower and resin are prohibited. You can sample a marijuana drink, called bhang lassi, but you shouldn’t expect to get high on hash during your trip.

Speaking of the oldest cultures to associate with weed, China claims  the oldest evidence of people using the plant for ceremonial rather than industrial purposes. In Jirzankal cemetery, in China’s far west, archaeologists have found 2,500-year-old skeletons with wooden plates, bowls and braziers that once contained burned cannabis. Unfortunately, modern China isn’t so friendly to marijuana use; though the country is the world’s largest manufacturer of hemp products, using a psychoactive cannabis product in China will likely get you thrown in jail or else deported and barred from returning.

Currently, few state departments will advocate for family vacations to Syria, and certainly not for weed tourism. Though the Middle East was once quite accepting of the drug, thanks to its revolutionary medicinal properties, most Muslim countries have since disavowed marijuana as a narcotic. Having any amount of weed on your person in Syria is guaranteed to get you locked up, perhaps for life. Worse, any weed available in the country was likely produced by ISIS, so any pot purchases you make are directly supporting terrorism.

Final Thoughts on Legality of Cannabis

It isn’t exactly wise to bring your weed with you when you travel, considering that so much of the world is not exactly stoner-friendly. Though a few countries have recognized the safety and functionality of legal weed, you should be careful to research regulations in any place you plan to visit before you seek out the good kush.

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