Legality of Marijuana: One of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to marijuana is the legality aspect of it. Is marijuana legal or illegal? What forms of marijuana are legal, which countries allow legal possession of marijuana and how much of it is considered legal. All of these are questions that need to be asked and answered. Let us take a deeper look at marijuana and its legality. We will also take a look at why some countries had banned the substance in the past and why it is being legalized of late.
Legality of Marijuana
Here we will focus on the legality of marijuana in largely two categories – legality in the US, and legality of marijuana in non-US countries.
Legality in the US
When it comes to the United States, Marijuana used to be legal till as late as 1937, which was when it was declared illegal. Following the 1937 law, possession, consumption or selling of marijuana became outlawed and a person could be arrested for breaking the law. The hippy movement of the 1970s saw an active protest against this act.
However, all forms of marijuana remained illegal till the late 90s. In the early 90s, a movement for the use of medical marijuana began and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyer’s Club opened up in the year 1992 – this was when the movement picked steam and had many major names backing it up. The biggest of these names was that of Billionaire George Soros who helped draft and pass the Compassionate Use Act, later to be known as Proposition 215, legalizing the consumption of medical marijuana since 1996.
Consumption of Medical Marijuana in the US is allowed in the following states:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
In eight of these states, (Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Oregon) the possession, as well as sale of marijuana, is legal – for both, medical as well as recreational use. The District of Columbia has legalized personal use but not the commercial sale. Moreover, even in states where marijuana remains illegal – the states are working towards ensuring that the laws are not as strict and people are not being sent to jail for possession of marijuana.
Legality of Marijuana outside the US
Outside the US, different countries have different laws regulating the consumption and sale of marijuana. In some countries, there is a blanket ban on the sale, possession and consumption in any form. In some countries, medical marijuana is legal while recreational use is banned, while there are some nations which have no such limits and restrictions at all.
Argentina allows you to smoke up in the privacy of your home and that won’t result in any charges against you. Australia too has been relaxing the weed-laws in their continent-country. Cambodia has restaurants where you can find food which is mixed with marijuana and sold publicly. Canada too is in the process of relaxing weed related laws.
The Czech Republic too, allows you to possess small amounts (up to 15 grams) for personal and recreational consumption. The country also allows medically prescribed marijuana legal since 2013. Similarly, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is cool by Ecuador laws, while the limit goes down to 7.5 grams in Estonia.
Jamaica is the most interesting of the lot as it has recently decriminalized possession and it’s ok to possess marijuana for religious purposes. Weed has been decriminalized in Mexico since 2009. India and Nepal are two regions where marijuana has been cultivated for millennia – and has been strongly associated with the religion and the culture of the lands. However, India has legally banned the consumption and possession of marijuana, it can still be seen actively being consumed during religious rituals of both these countries. Some shops in India do sell legal ‘bhaang’ which is an edible preparation of cannabis.
The Netherlands is a paradise for those who wish to consume marijuana – designated smoking spots in the country allow legal consumption of weed. One of the most surprising names on this list is that of North Korea – a country known for their dictatorial regime and terrible human rights violations, North Korea allows legal consumption of weed. Guess you need a lot of it anyway to forget you’re in North Korea.
In Pakistan, cultivation of Marijuana is legal while consumption is not. Peru allows consumption and cultivation of weed, but sales are banned. Portugal legalized all ‘drugs’ in 2001 and allows carrying of up to one ounce of weed at a time. Weed is also legal in Russia but you can only carry up to six grams at a time.
Spain is also quite relaxed about weed laws and has over 500 cannabis clubs where you can go and smoke without any legal trouble. Ukraine allows possession of upto 5 grams. Uruguay also has very lenient laws when it comes to weed – consumption is legal and so is sale, you need to be above the age of 18 to buy it.
Why Have Some Countries Banned Weed?
The ban on consumption of marijuana is a controversial topic. While there are many arguments and counterarguments against it, the basic logic that most countries have shown is that it is a ‘drug’.
This is a debate which has been around for many decades – governments around the world have put marijuana in the same bracket as other drugs such as cocaine and heroine which are hard drugs and have a major negative impact on the health. Marijuana supporters tend to call it a ‘herb’ and claim that it does not have any such characteristics as the other narcotic substances.
Moreover, the middle of the last century was a racially and ethnically oppressed time as many associated the smoking of marijuana with the immigrant culture which led to the fall in public perception about the kind of people who smoke weed and a sense of superiority developed around not smoking it.
However, the psychoactive properties of weed, as well as the addictive nature of the substance have irked governments to ban the substances. Many countries around the world put a blanket ban on cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana. The times are now changing – let us now take a look at why countries have begun accepting the weed-culture:
The Marijuana Legalization Movement
Over the past few decades, the activism surrounding marijuana legalization has grown in leaps and bounds. Hippie movements of the 70s and the 80s kicked this off and it finally took center stage in 2010s where liberal politics saw the breaking of various other taboos such as gay marriages. Legalization of weed is a pressing issue which many countries claiming to be liberal or first-world have been increasingly pressured upon by their citizens.
Weed activists claim that marijuana needs to be legalized because it is harmless, even safer compared to alcohol which is legally sold.
The biggest reason that the government has to legalize marijuana is that it is a small offense yet has significant punishments. Thousands of people have been charged or arrested due to possession of even small amounts of marijuana and the social costs of this prohibition are way too high. Moreover, why tarnislh the criminal record of a citizen for something that wasn’t even illegal about half a century ago.
With time, it also became clear that Cannabis does indeed have a lot of medical properties and research into the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been quite beneficial. It was also acknowledged by a number of studies that legalization will have a negligible impact on the rise of consumption. All of these factors put together to present a pressing case for the legalization of weed in the US, as well as all over the world. Here you will get the complete information on,
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Legality of Marijuana
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