Blog Post

Cannabis Legalization Across the Globe

On October 17 th of 2018, Canada became the second to legalize cannabis recreationally across the country; a huge step for both Canada and the Cannabis industry itself. The world is now watching as the industry grows – quite literally – and more countries follow the path of legalization.

But where else is recreational Cannabis legal?

Uruguay was actually the first country to legalize recreational cannabis. In December 2013 the current Uruguayan President, Jose Mujica, signed legislation to legalize recreational cannabis throughout the nation, and in 2014 the country legalized growing up to six plants, ‘growing clubs’, and a Cannabis Regulatory Institute. After a bit of a lull from the initial legalization in 2013, the retail side of things finally began in 2017.

Although the country certainly added change and intrigue to the industry, they did so with interesting regulations. Uruguay opted to only allow it’s citizens to purchase and consume cannabis, regardless of the tourists who travel there yearly specifically with cannabis-related interests. They also control the cannabis supply – citizens must only purchase cannabis from licensed pharmacies or cannabis clubs, which get their supply from only two different companies.

USA (United States of America):
Even though the cannabis industry in the USA has been ever-flourishing over the last few years, it sure isn’t that way in every single state. Similar to how each Canadian province could decide on some of their cannabis regulations, so can each American State. The United States Federal Government has not yet legalized sale or consumption of recreational cannabis across the country, so for now it’s up to individual states.

The States where recreational cannabis is legal include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Nevada
  • Oregon
  • Vermont
  • Washington

On October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the law prohibiting recreational use of cannabis in Mexico was unconstitutional – basically, it’s an old, outdated law which goes against the principles Mexico as a nation set out to follow. By making this ruling, it mandated that the government of Mexico was to take action to formally legalize cannabis in the 90 days following – and they have definitely made a start. The ruling also meant that although cannabis remains illegal, the laws surrounding it are unenforceable as anybody could cite the ruling and have any relating charges dropped.

Mexico’s Senate released a report in early February of this year that laid out considerations surrounding cannabis and its use for lawmakers to keep in mind as the country moves forward. Now the top lawmakers from Mexico’s leading political parties have combined their knowledge to begin the process to formally decriminalize cannabis.

The country’s Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection even launched an online poll; asking citizens whether they support the legalization of cannabis, and it received 81% in support and only 19% in opposition. If the country keeps moving in this direction, they’re well set up to be next in line to legalize country-wide.

Decriminalized Cannabis vs. Legalized Cannabis?

We’ve covered the basics of where cannabis is recreationally legal, but what about where it’s decriminalized? The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two entirely different things.

Decriminalization is a lessening of criminal penalties which are currently imposed relating to cannabis use, while legalization is the complete removal of laws which prohibit cannabis.

More places have decriminalized than have legalized, including:

  • Argentina
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bolivia
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Ecuador
  • Estonia
  • Israel
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Switzerland

As more and more nations are legalizing cannabis, it can only be a matter of time before those with decriminalized regulations fully legalize.

Have you been to a country other than Canada where cannabis was legal or just decriminalized? What was it like? We want to hear all about it!