Marijuana Legalization 2020: Which Countries Will Legalize Weed Next
Though marijuana still carries a stigma in many parts of the world, several countries are reconsidering its illegal status. Canada legalized cannabis for recreational use in October 2018, making it the second country in the world to do so.
In the United States, 10 states have either decriminalized or legalized its use for all purposes, with another 33 states allowing medical use of cannabis.
Many European countries are also looking into altering their draconian laws concerning this naturally growing plant. So, what does the future of marijuana look like around the world?
The process of changing the laws in European countries to allow the use of medical or recreational marijuana is a slow one. The reason may be that there are so many small countries on this continent. There is a lot of pressure to do the right thing, especially when there are so many neighbors with differing views. This may hold some governments back from making the final decision. It may only take one country legalizing marijuana for the others to follow suit. A few countries are only steps away from this decision.
France is one of these countries. The current president, Emmanuel Macron, has already abolished the mandatory sentences for minor marijuana crimes and has also stated that he would like to change more laws related to cannabis.
Marijuana is illegal in both Spain and the Netherlands, though it can be purchased and used at select cafes. The next logical step would be to legalize the use for all its citizens, provided other European countries lead the way.
Luxembourg’s coalition government has already pledged to legalize weed, likely at the end of their term in 2022 or 2023. There has been no public disapproval from any of their neighboring countries, either.
Italy legalized medical marijuana in 2013 and may be on the path for recreational regulations as well. They already have a system they call “cannabis light” that allows access to cannabis with a very low potency, so recreational regulations may be on the horizon.
One of the hot spots for European cannabis tourism is the Czech Republic. Even though only medical marijuana is legal, their lax drug laws make them a haven for pot enthusiasts. The fact that it is already positively affecting its tourism economy may be all this country needs to embrace fully legalized cannabis.
On the progressive front is Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in 2000. This country also treats addiction as a medical problem rather than a crime. Legalizing cannabis for recreational use could be the next logical step in their advanced attitude.
In 2017, Germany gave green light for medical cannabis treatments. According to the government, doctors are allowed to prescribe marijuana for ill patients who have no other therapeutic alternative. Recreational use of cannabis is still prohibited, although possession of small doses isn’t typically prosecuted as a crime. As far as CBD products concerns, Germany holds one of the most permissive regulations in the old continent.
In addition to CBD products, Germany has also taken a stance on products containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the compound responsible for generating psychoactive effects. The current law establishes that medical cannabis must contain less than 0.2% of THC.
Canada legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in 2018 but this isn’t a blanket legalization. Each province is allowed to regulate the use, growth, and sale for its citizens and some provinces are more lenient than others.
In the U.S., there are already 10 states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use and another 33 that have approved it for medical purposes. Despite the failure to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, there is still a great deal of political support to pass this law in this state, as well as in New York and New Mexico.
The majority of American citizens are in favor of legalization at a federal level. These numbers grow almost daily, and the politicians seem to agree. With an election coming up in 2020, many Democratic candidates are adding their support as well as part of their campaign platform, though this may not be their first act if they win the presidency.
A couple of years ago, Mexico legalized cannabis for medical use. More recently, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that their absolute ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional. This opens the door for the country’s lawmakers to begin regulating its consumption.
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro may believe that the legalization of marijuana only benefits “traffickers, rapists, and hostage-takers”, but many Latin American countries disagree. Several of them have legalized it for medical use or decriminalized cannabis for personal use to some degree, including Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Columbia, Argentina, and Ecuador.
Though this region is historically politically volatile, it has shown a more progressive attitude in recent years. In fact, Uruguay was the first country to legalize recreational marijuana, so the rest of the country may eventually choose to follow their lead.
Although the Philippines and Indonesia are extremely strict with their marijuana laws, some Asian countries are moving towards legalization. Indians have been using cannabis for thousands of years. Despite the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 that made its use illegal, several states tolerate its use and even consider it to be a legal product.
This apparent indifference to marijuana use may be due to the numerous other pressing concerns the country deals with, so the laws may not change either way in the near future.
Thailand legalized medical marijuana in December 2018 and has the perfect climate for growing cannabis for export to other countries. Full legalization isn’t on their to-do list just yet, though this may show up on the government agenda at some point.
In December 2018, New Zealand passed legislation that allowed the use of medical marijuana. They also announced that during the general election in 2020, they would also hold a binding referendum regarding the legalization and regulation of cannabis.
Australia legalized the production and use of medical marijuana back in 2016. A poll that same year also suggested that 74% of Australians are in favor of decriminalization. Some states have already done so and depending on the outcome of their next election, full cannabis legalization for the entire country may be coming soon.
Africa may be the continent to implement widespread cannabis reform the quickest. A year ago, the constitutional court of South Africa ruled that there would be no penalization for private use and cultivation of cannabis.
While the bill hasn’t been written into law yet and some specifics still need to be worked out, it’s an important development in the cannabis world. This ruling has led to some areas of the country looking into economic opportunities as well, including cannabis exports.
Despite popular belief about Jamaica being a haven for cannabis lovers, it was actually illegal in this country until recently. In 2018, there were some small changes made to the law, allowing the possession of up to 2 ounces.
Cultivation of up to 5 plants in your home is no longer an offense either. Marijuana can also be used for medical purposes, while Rastafarians are allowed sacramental use.
Other Caribbean countries are considering the elimination of cannabis prohibition and regulating its use in the same way they regulate tobacco and alcohol.
Many of these countries rely on the United States for trade and aid, so may hold off until the U.S. makes a similar move to avoid any possible penalties.
The Bottom Line
Though the use of medical marijuana has become the norm in many areas, legalizing this product for recreational use may take a bit of time.
Of course, with countries like Uruguay and Canada regulating its use with few problems to show for it, other countries may be persuaded to test out this legal area for themselves. This process may take longer in some countries than others, depending on the political climate of the area but it’s only a matter of time before this natural plant loses its stigma.