The United States may be a great place to buy and smoke marijuana, but we’re not alone in this world. There are potheads everywhere, and they want legalization as much as we do.
So where exactly is weed tolerated? Here’s a non-exclusive list of nations that allow recreational or medical use of pot, whether by legalizing or decriminalizing it.
Weed is currently legal in five places in North America: Oregon, Alaska, Washington State, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. And it’s allowed for medical use in 23 states (including those four), plus 12 others that only allow a non-intoxicating form of the drug for epileptic children. Another 16 states have decriminalized cannabis, meaning stoners face small civil fines rather than jail time.
Canada is a great place for potheads, too, though locals are pushing for better. A Canadian court legalized medicinal marijuana in 2000. Recreational use could go legal in a few years.
In Mexico, meanwhile, pot was decriminalized in 2009. Lawmakers in the Federal District (aka Mexico City) have discussed legalizing possession of the drug completely.
Central and South America
Two years ago, Uruguay became the first nation on Earth to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for recreational use. The program is on hold and may never see light, but the seal has been broken on national legalization.
Colombians, meanwhile, are essentially allowed to grow up to 20 plants for personal consumption and to possess small amounts of pot, though the drug remains illegal. Marijuana is also decriminalized in Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Belize.
In the Caribbean, Jamaica has decriminalized possession and legalized small home grows completely. Puerto Rico could also legalize soon, while the U.S. Virgin Islands has decriminalized pot.
It’s hard to come by much data on marijuana laws in Africa, but it seems safe to assume it isn’t legal or even decriminalized much of anywhere. Indeed, Africa may be the continent most thoroughly hostile to the idea of reform.
In part this is because weed isn’t so common there. Other indigenous plants are often used to get high. Some of those are gradually making their way to the U.S., so expect an eventual fight over their legality.
Pot was born in Asia, but it’s definitely not the best place to be a toker. Every country in the world that is known to kill stoners is in Asia. That includes China, Singapore, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.
Weed is tolerated but illegal in Pakistan, Nepal, and North Korea, but that’s about it. And these aren’t exactly hotspots for tourists, so unless you enjoy hiking in the Himalayas, you should probably avoid Asia.
Europe is really a mixed bag when it comes to cannabis. The drug isn’t legal anywhere, but it’s tolerated in many European countries. The Dutch are notoriously lenient, allowing stoners from around the world to smoke pot at many of Amsterdam’s “coffee” shops.
Switzerland also has a pretty good record when it comes to drug policy. Marijuana is illegal there, but it’s decriminalized and easy to get. Surprisingly, weed is also decriminalized in Russia.
Other countries that tolerate pot smokers include Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ukraine, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Italy.
The good news is, weed is decriminalized in some parts of Australia. The bad news is, some other parts still treat it as a crime. South Australia and the Northern Territory have removed criminal penalties for pot, as has the Australian Capital Territory.
Elsewhere, in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania, marijuana remains wholly illegal. All in all, it’s not the friendliest place to use dope, but it definitely isn’t the worst.