A look at how cannabis legalization efforts are developing around the globe
With Canada fully legalized, Mexico on the cusp, and the US approaching a tipping point “The Tipping Point” for full federal legalization, it’s an exciting time for cannabis on the North American continent. But it’s not just North America we should be thrilled about, because efforts across the globe are also gathering pace. So, let’s take a closer look at the progression of cannabis legalization around the world.
Of the 50 countries that make up the continent of Europe, 19 have so far legalized medical cannabis including some big nations like Germany, Italy, and the UK. Progress towards recreational cannabis legalization is painfully slow however, but Luxemburg appears to be the front runner with a favorable government making a big push in 2021. Additionally, in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Spain and the Netherlands, while technically illegal, rec cannabis use is somewhat permitted.
Of course Uruguay made history by becoming the first country in the world to fully legalize cannabis, but across the rest of the South American continent other countries are making progress, too. Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru have all legalized medical marijuana and decriminalized personal use to some extent, although no other country has gone as far as Uruguay when it comes to recreational cannabis.
Jamaica and cannabis have a storied history but even though medical is legal, and personnel possession and cultivation have been depenalized, cannabis on the whole remains mostly illegal. Rastafarians can use it for religious purposes, and a number of medical dispensaries known as “Herb Houses” have opened up to cater to the licensed medical market. Additionally, Barbados, Bermuda, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have joined Jamaica in legalizing medical marijuana.
Asia and Oceana
Australia has been pushing forward with medical marijuana since they legalized in 2016, and last year the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) became the first state to legalize personal use of cannabis. Like the US however, recreational use remains federally illegal, although attitudes towards cannabis in the country seem to be shifting rapidly with 41%of Australians now in favor of legalizing adult use, too. Elsewhere in the region New Zealand, the pacific nation of Vanuatu, Thailand, and Sri Lanka have also legalized medical cannabis.
South Africa is the legalization leader in Africa having approved medical marijuana in 2018. Additionally, private personal use, possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis are also legal, however public consumption and sales are not. Furthermore, Ghana, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe have all legalized medical cannabis recently with more african nations expected to follow suit this year.
The Middle East
Israel takes the crown in the middle east for not only legalizing medical cannabis and decriminalizing personal recreational use, but by also becoming a global center for cannabis research. Additionally in Lebanon, a country with a long history of illicit cannabis cultivation, growing for medical use was approved last year making it the first Arab country to do so. Lastly in Georgia, medical marijuana is legal and so is personal possession and cultivation, however sales are still forbidden.
Around the world cannabis legalization is gathering pace. Not only have a huge number of countries made the first steps towards legalizing medical cannabis, but an even larger number have enacted decriminalization or depenalization measures. Ultimately, that means that the global prohibition and harsh policing of the last century has begun to crumble worldwide, and that’s great news for cannabis legalization.