Times are a changing and so are cannabis laws. There are over 30 states in the U.S. with some form of cannabis legalization and that numbers grow every month. States like Michigan have legalized adult use while states like Georgia look to expand access for their medical cannabis patients. Movement in the industry is not just limited to the U.S. other countries are joining the cannabis craze to become the next big market. Here is a breakdown of cannabis laws around the world by continent:
While certain states like California and Colorado have been leaders in the cannabis space by legalizing adult use, at the federal level the U.S. is far behind its neighbors to the north and south. Canada has been leading the continent when it comes to cannabis. The U.S.’s northern neighbor was the first to legalized medical cannabis on a federal level in 2001 and in 2018 they went even further by becoming the first G7 nation to legalize cannabis for adult use.
On a federal level, Mexico has surpassed the U.S. when it comes to medical cannabis. In 2017, the U.S.’s southern neighbors legalized medical cannabis and went a step further in 2018 by essentially decriminalizing recreational cannabis by two rulings by the country’s Supreme Court. It appears the country could loosen their cannabis laws even more as Andrés Manuel López Obrador explores fully legalizing adult use to curb the drug cartels and create a new industry for the country.
In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in modern history to legalize adult use. Although the country was a trailblazer for cannabis in a sense, their market has been stagnant.
Peru, Chile, and Columbia have all legalized medical cannabis and big cannabis companies are taking note. Major players like Canada-based Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) (TSX: ACB) are investing in the South American market to be able to utilize the region’s natural resources and expand their production capacity.
There are still some holdouts on the continent when it comes to cannabis legalization which includes Brazil. The largest country in South America allows hemp products for medical use but has yet to legalize cannabis use. With a population of nearly 212 million people, the Brazilian market could be the most valuable in the region.
The Netherlands has long held the tradition of being a cannabis capital of Europe. The notorious Dutch coffee shops have drawn visitors from around the world. What is startling is that cannabis was never officially legal in the country. The coffee shops were created through a legal loophole. In fact, as cannabis legalization has grown around the world, The Netherlands has been slow to adopt full cannabis legalization.
Other countries in Europe like Spain, Italy, and Germany have laws on the books legalizing cannabis. In Germany, patients can use their health insurance to pay for medical cannabis and they are taking advantage of this benefit.
African nations are joining other countries around the world by opening up their cannabis markets. In May 2018, the first medical dispensary on the continent opened in the Durban, South Africa. Other countries like Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Malawi are embracing legalization in hopes that cultivating cannabis will help inject capital into their respective markets.
Asian countries have been a bit slower to accept cannabis use in any form due to many of the countries’ cultural beliefs. Punishments for cannabis use and possession in the region could be stiff. However, in late 2018, South Korea became the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis. In addition, the Philippines government are currently in the process of pushing through legislation that would legalize medical marijuana.
Like everyone else, the tone surrounding cannabis is beginning to change in Asia. Thailand is on the brink of legalizing medical cannabis. While Malaysia is researching and weighing the medical benefits of the plant due to the nation’s outcry after a man was sentenced to death for distributing cannabis to cancer patients.
Article By: Ayanna Rutherford