As cannabis makes a comeback as the world’s favorite plant, some wonder where they can travel to legally enjoy it. Within the United States, it can sometimes be tricky to figure out where you can consume because many states have different rules and regulations, ranging from completely legal to strictly prohibited. Foreign countries are similar in the sense that there are a diverse set of rules that apply to each place, so it’s important to know where you are allowed to partake versus where you are better off holding back your health and wellness habits.
With COVID-19 still in our midst, we know that travel is something we do less often, but we like to be prepared for when it’s easier to jump back into tourism. So, here are just a few places around the world where you are more than welcome to enjoy cannabis.
(Parts of) The United States of America
While still illegal and classified as a Schedule I substance, recreational cannabis is legal in 15 states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington), DC, The Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Some states have their recreational cannabis systems already in place, while others are new to the scene and have yet to implement their regulations in their entirety. So, be sure you know your state’s rules before you spark up!
Cannabis is legal for both recreational and medical purposes here! The Federal Cannabis Act came into effect on October 17, 2018, making Canada the second country in the world (after Uruguay) to formally legalize the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of cannabis and its byproducts. Canada is the first G7 and G20 nation to do so.
Cannabis is illegal, however, the Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting its use was unconstitutional in 2018. Further, possession and use of small amounts (5 grams or less) was decriminalized in 2009. So, if you happen to be in Mexico, feel free to discreetly spark up in private, and don’t showcase what you’re doing.
Again, cannabis is illegal here, however, in February 2015, the restrictions were amended as follows:
- Possession of 2 ounces is a petty offense, and will not result in a criminal record
- Cultivation of five or fewer plants is permitted
- Practitioners of the Rastafari faith may use cannabis for religious purposes
- Tourists with a prescription for medical marijuana may apply for permits to purchase small amounts
Don’t forget that cannabis has also woven itself into this country’s culture, so you’re likely to stumble across people offering it openly on more than one occasion.
Surprisingly, cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands, however, here is another country where the plant is part of the local culture, and thus, certain laws are in effect that make the plant easier to obtain and use. Recreational use is tolerated, and cannabis is mainly available in “coffee shops” but is unregulated i.e. it is not tested for contaminants, THC content, and dosing. Possession of up to 5 grams is also decriminalized, however, police can still confiscate; this typically happens during car checks near the country’s border.
Cannabis is one of the most popular controlled substances for cultivation and consumption within the country. Cannabis is technically illegal here, but personal possession has been decriminalized since 2003 (adults over 18 are allowed to possess up to 3 grams). Cannabis cultivation is also a fast-growing industry in Belgium.
Although it is illegal for commercial purposes, cannabis is decriminalized for personal use and cultivation, as well as other purposes other than sale or trade. Because of this legal “grey area”, cannabis clubs are the most popular way to obtain the plant. About 500 “cannabis clubs” exist in Spain, 200 of them in Barcelona alone, and Spain has obtained the title of “New Amsterdam” and is an increasingly popular cannabis tourism destination.
This one comes as a shock to some, considering Russia’s reputation as a country that leans more on the strict side of rules and regulations. Since 2006, possession of less than 6 grams of cannabis is an administrative offense, meaning it is punishable by way of either a fine of 1,000 rubles or 15 days of detention.
Two words: “Happy Pizza”. Although it’s not legal in this country, cannabis is not harshly enforced, with authorities taking a more opportunistic approach. Here, cannabis is mostly offered in the form of edibles, i.e. people consume it in their food or as a side garnish (hence, the “happy pizza”. There are businesses within the country that openly offer and sell cannabis to the public. It’s also common for the plant to be cultivated. Finally, cannabis is more popular among the older crowd, with youth not partaking as much as their elders.
As cannabis regulation and legal status continues to change throughout the world, one should keep up-to-date on the dos and don’ts when it comes to the plant in a given destination. Some places will be strict, while others have it listed as illegal, but are much more lax about enforcing the rules. So, do your research, stay safe when you travel, and enjoy the world through an elevated lens!
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