At times, there seems little that people around the world can agree on. But one of those things is apparently legal marijuana.
As California and Massachusetts began legal adult use sales in the United States in 2018, countries around the world are either seriously considering doing the same or have already made the leap.
The two that have made the leap are Uruguay and Canada. Both countries have legalized marijuana nationwide – Uruguay in 2017 and Canada in 2018. The decision in Canada has received a great deal of attention in the United States as U.S. companies make investments in Canadian cannabis businesses and Americans plan vacations north of the border.
Other countries also have taken up the legal marijuana issue. They include the following.
Mexican voters elected a left-wing candidate to be president – Andrés Manuel López Obrador – and the party also has a majority in Mexico’s Congress. Legislation has already been introduced that would allow Mexicans to grow, sell and possess marijuana for both medical and recreational use, according to NPR. Debate is expected on the bill in 2019. But if passed, Mexico could become the third nation to legalize marijuana.
Luxembourg could beat Mexico to become the third nation to legalize marijuana. At the very least, it would be the first country in Europe to do so. The new coalition government in the small country – there are about 600,000 residents – has already released a plan to legalize recreational marijuana, perhaps in 2019 if the details can be ironed out. Residents there also have pushed for reform by signing a petition asking for the legal sale of cannabis at coffee shops. Enough signatures were gathered for the petition to be put before the nation’s parliament.
A court in South Africa upheld the legality of allowing recreational cannabis sales and possession in South Africa. However, sales of medical marijuana – which is already legal – have been slowed by “an onerous licensing process,” according to ABC News. While the court decision clears the way for leagl marijuana in the country, it’s unclear how quickly that will happen. Meanwhile, nearby African country Lesotho has legalized the export of medical marijuana, according to ABC, and Zimbabwe and Malawi may soon follow suit.
In December, Israeli lawmakers gave approval to companies in the country to export medical marijuana. The country’s leaders expect that exporting cannabis could bring in about $275 million in tax income annually, according to Reuters. Israel is one of the top producers of medical marijuana because of the country’s favorable climate and the concentration of experts in the country on agriculture and medical technology.
Thailand broke major ground in December, becoming the first country in Southeast Asia to allow for the use of medical marijuana. The country’s military-appointed legislative body approved the measure unanimously, and it is expected to be approved by King Maha Vajiralongkorn and take effect in 2019. The move is viewed as significant as there has been little tolerance for medical marijuana until now, according to the New York Times. The Times reported that in the past people have been given long prison terms just for possessing marijuana-related products and one man was sentenced to hanging because he sold cannabis oil (that sentence is now being reviewed).
It’s a new era for marijuana. As more U.S. states continue to consider legalization, expect the same to happen around the world.