Considering the worldwide trend of lessening the severity of punishments for weed consumption, we have decided to prepare a list of 10 countries that will legalize weed next.
Despite the fact that cannabis is classified as a schedule IV substance, i.e. the strictest category under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, decriminalization and legalization of it are sweeping the world, with Uruguay being the first country to declare it legal for all intents and purposes in 2013. The failure of the war on drugs to bring the international multi-billion dollar business to a halt, prevent cultivation, sale and transport of drugs like weed, and the total inability of it to bring down drug abuse has led governments to reconsider the approaches they had been taking toward drugs in general and weed in particular. After all, weed is the most used drug of all when it comes to the 11 most commonly used illegal drugs all over the world.
The medical benefits of marijuana have also prompted its legalization for medical purposes, as it has been proven to act well against cancerous cells and reduce the pain of chemotherapy, help alleviate arthritis pain and inflammatory diseases of the bowel, control epileptic seizures, assist in treating glaucoma, etc. This has prompted several countries to legalize medical marijuana and reap its benefits in treating illnesses. Additionally, many governments have decriminalized it i.e. being caught with it in possession is usually responded to with a fine and referral to a rehab clinic instead of incarceration. It is hence being treated as more of a social and health problem rather than a criminal one, as a result of which abuse of weed and deaths pertaining to its overdose both have drastically decreased in countries where such measures are being taken. Moreover, certain governments have shown incentive to take it even further and legalize the drug completely, bringing it to the same status as any other socially accepted drug.
So, in no particular order, here are the countries that will legalize weed next:
Possession of cannabis in Argentina was decriminalized for personal use in a historic decision taken by the Supreme Court in August 2009, however, its sale, transport and cultivation are illegal. In 2015, protestors took to the streets in an attempt to overturn the legislation regarding marijuana, and hence it is expected that steps will be taken in the future to relax the current regulations.
In accordance with Article 299 of the Penal Code, possession of up to 8 grams is not a criminal offense, however, possessing marijuana over the given legal limit, its cultivation, sale and transport is punished with a long prison sentence. Encouragement by Uruguay and proposals for discussion on the matter mean that Peru which ranks 9th in our list of countries that will legalize weed next, may well be on its way to legalizing weed entirely in the future.
Law 108 in Ecuador that ranks 8th in our list of countries that will legalize weed next, states that possession of marijuana in small amounts, i.e. up to 10 grams, is considered personal use and is not punished. In 2015, a groundbreaking bill was proposed by a lawmaker Carlos Velasco, in which jail time would be replaced by rehabilitation and treatment for drug abusers. Citizens would also be made well aware of the detrimental impact of drug addiction on one’s health.
Although sale and transport of cannabis are illegal in Switzerland, cultivation may be done in private property, and as of October 2013, possession has been decriminalized. Even for comparatively larger amounts, sentences have been alleviated in severity. However, moderation of the current legislation has to be done to pave the way for legality.
6. Costa Rica
Technically, cannabis is illegal in Costa Rica, but strict punishments are rarely dished out to offenders for possession and cultivation, culminating in what is known to be a de facto system of decriminalization. A court ruling in 2016 is testimony to the high tolerance of marijuana in the country.
Currently, marijuana is illegal in Canada, but it is expected that significant steps towards decriminalization and legalization will be taken in the near future, as the Liberal Government announced in 2016 that new legislation would be enforced in the spring of the following year, the first step towards legalization.
Portugal has already decriminalized the use of not only cannabis, but all drugs in 2001, meaning that citizens merely have to pay fines and perhaps get referred to a rehabilitation program. As a result, drug overdoses have decreased by a monumental amount, more people are getting treated for their addictions, and there are far fewer cases of HIV. However, marijuana is still illegal and cannot be openly grown, sold, transported and held in possession without any consequences whatsoever.
3. Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic that ended up in the third spot in our list of countries that will legalize weed next, greater amounts of marijuana are still responded to with strict punishments, dispelling the impression that the country’s atmosphere is highly tolerant towards it. However, marijuana for medical use was first deemed legal in 2013, and possession of amounts less than 10 grams has been decriminalized. In the future, it is expected that steps towards further relaxing the regulation of marijuana will be taken.
2. The United States of America
The marijuana laws in the United States are complicated; every state has a completely different approach towards it. Medicinal marijuana is legal in 25 states and possession of it has been decriminalized in 18. Additionally, possession is completely legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia. However, it is illegal at the federal level and in several other states. After November, a number of states shall be voting on the question of legalizing recreational marijuana, which might influence change in federal policy.
1. The Netherlands
Marijuana use for recreational purposes in the Netherlands is characterized by “coffee shops”, places where cannabis is legally sold, and for which sale, transport, and cultivation is legal. It is still illegal outside of such places, though, in spite of the decriminalization. However, proposed legislation such as the recent bill presented on licensed cultivation under the government indicates that even though current laws are lenient, further steps are looked favorably upon. The Netherlands thus closes our list of 10 countries that will legalize weed next.