Medical marijuana is legal in more than half the United States. Four states and the District of Columbia even allow the drug for recreational use. But that doesn’t mean America is alone in its taste for cannabis. Here are 10 other countries that allow pot as a treatment for a wide range of illnesses.
Canada is set to legalize all adult marijuana use within a matter of months, but the drug has been kosher as medicine for the last 15 years. Courts in the Great White North legalized medical cannabis in 2001, ruling that access to the drug for health needs is a constitutional right. The Conservative government that ran the country through the 2000s pushed back and tried to end MMJ, but their sweeping loss to the Liberals last year means they’ve lost that fight for good.
As of earlier this year, medicinal cannabis is legal throughout Australia. The nation’s Parliament approved the drug for medical and research purposes, but the MMJ industry still needs regulations, growers still need a way to obtain cultivation licenses, and patients still need a way to access their newly legalized medicine.
The Netherlands are famously friendly to marijuana consumers, whether they use the drug for recreation or medicine. The medical pot industry is much smaller than the recreational industry, however. Just one company, Bedrocan Cannabis, is licensed to provide marijuana to patients, and not many people use it to treat disease, since insurers generally don’t cover it.
Medical pot itself is not allowed in France, but medications based on its derivatives are. In 2013, Health Minister Mariso Touraine issued a rule allowing the sale of medicine containing certain cannabinoids, especially CBD – a chemical used to treat severe epilepsy and other conditions. Sativex, a nasal spray containing CBD and the intoxicating chemical THC, was approved in 2014 for treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Uruguay remains the only country in the world where cannabis is fully legal for any adult use, though the legalization program there has stalled in the last couple of years. Medical marijuana, however, has rapidly picked up steam, especially among patients who grow the drug at home.
Romania might not seem like a friendly place for medical cannabis, but the Eastern European nation moved in 2013 to approve the use of medications containing marijuana chemicals such as THC and CBD. These drugs, including Sativex, may be used to treat epilepsy, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
Medicinal marijuana is still in its infancy in most of South America, including Chile, but the country’s president signed a bill last year allowing the government to grow pot for medical use, including treatment of cancer, epilepsy, and certain types of chronic pain.
8. Czech Republic
MMJ was approved for Czech patients in 2013, but the law has been slow to take effect. In part that’s because marijuana must be imported from the Netherlands, patients must undergo a Byzantine process to obtain a prescription, and insurers refuse to cover the drug.
This South American nation may be better known for its illegal drug production, but legal medical marijuana has taken off in recent years. President Juan Manuel Santos signed legislation in December allowing use of pot for medical and research purposes. He also decriminalized simple possession of small amounts for recreational use.
MMJ has been legal in Jamaica since last year. This is little surprise, given the island nation’s reputation as a stoner haven, but it is genuinely surprising that it took so long. The new law created a licensing board to regulate the cultivation and sale of medical and research cannabis, while recreational use was decriminalized at the same time.