The United States is becoming a downright pleasant place to get caught with weed. Sure, it’s still illegal in most states, except maybe as medicine. And the federal government still prosecutes people who trade in the drug – as well as some who use it.
But compared to the rest of the world, America is a red-eyed beacon of hope. Just look at Colorado and Washington State, where voters made pot legal. Not to mention California, the weed capital of the world.
Not everyplace is America, though. There are some countries where smoking grass can be a very bad idea. Here are just a few.
Pot isn’t a big part of Chinese culture, and finding it may not be easy in many areas. But getting caught with it could cost you your life. Literally. The Chinese execute weed traffickers, and it doesn’t take that much to get yourself labeled a trafficker.
In 2007, China killed about 470 prisoners, many of them convicted drug dealers. There are still plenty of illegal drugs in the country – as there are almost everywhere on Earth – but the penalties are much worse in China than anywhere in the Western world.
Police in Singapore take petty crime seriously. Very seriously. This was the country that caned an American teenager for simple vandalism. You can imagine what they do to people convicted of marijuana crimes.
As in China, drug dealers are often killed in Singapore, where possession of 17 ounces of marijuana could get you hanged. Singapore is in most ways a thoroughly modern country, but its treatment of stoners is anything but.
The Islamic Republic of Iran treats its pot dealers much like it treats anyone else who gets in the way of the regime. In other words, imprisonment, torture, and death. Authorities here execute about 500 drug traffickers each year, one of the highest rates in the world.
If you’re caught with a small amount of weed for personal use, your outlook isn’t much better. A few grams could get you 70 lashes with a whip. For a first offense.
Despite the high volume of hash in the Middle East, you won’t find much cannabis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This country outlaws even alcohol, so good luck getting baked.
If you get caught with any amount of weed, you could face a public flogging or a stay in one of the country’s terrible prisons. And that’s just for possession. Convicted traffickers are beheaded.
Foreigners caught smuggling weed face an especially hard future in Malaysia, a country that has made a cottage industry out of killing minor drug mules – and people falsely convicted of being drug mules. Just seven ounces of weed is enough to trigger a mandatory death penalty here.
United Arab Emirates
It’s not so much the punishment as it is the cops: It’s ridiculously easy to get busted for drug possession in the UAE. One outsider was sentenced to four years in prison because he carried a few poppy seeds into the country on his jacket, seeds that fell from a dinner roll he ate earlier in the day.
That said, the punishments are certainly severe. In general, the UAE is a looser place than the rest of the Middle East, but cops there definitely don’t look the other way when it comes to cannabis.
Honorable Mention: North Korea
Nothing should spark terror in your heart like the thought of a North Korean jail. The basic rule is, you don’t make it out alive. Ever.
Still, North Korea is one of the easiest places in the world to actually smoke pot, at least if you’re a local. Marijuana is essentially legal there and is commonly used. Even police and government workers smoke up. It’s the one vice the country does allow.
This phenomenon has been reported by a number of people who visited North Korea, some of who joined in. Some visitors claim the joints tourists see are really a mix of tobacco and a local non-intoxicating herb, but it’s unlikely so many other people would mistake the smell or effect of real weed.
But don’t count on leniency if you’re an American busted in Pyongyang for dope. If it happens, that’s the last weed you’re ever going to see.