Cannabis Laws Around The World: Part 2

This is part two of a two-part series on worldwide cannabis laws. We aim to analyze cannabis laws in countries outside the United States and observe the differences. Which countries have more progressive cannabis laws than the United States? Which have stricter laws? Once we compile a list of worldwide cannabis laws, we will see how these laws can apply to how the United States legislates cannabis. If you have yet to read part one, we highly recommend reading that first here. Now, let us start where we left off on our journey around the world.

Middle Eastern Cannabis Laws

Famously, the Middle East has some of the strictest cannabis laws in the world. Ironically, the Middle East was one of the first places to cultivate cannabis thousands of years ago. Now, many Middle Eastern countries have laws that will put cannabis users, traffickers, and farmers behind bars for many years. However, like much of the world, the Middle East is becoming more accepting of cannabis.

The largest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, has some of the strictest cannabis laws in the region. A first-time offense can result in a jail sentence of 1-6 months, accompanied by physical beatings. A second offense can last up to ten years. Repeat offenders and cannabis traffickers face possible life sentences and the death penalty, although corporal punishment is very rare. There are many rumors that using or carrying cannabis in the Middle East results in a life sentence or corporal punishment, but these claims are overblown. The strict laws of Saudi Arabia are not far from cannabis laws in the United States just 30 years ago.Worldwide Cannabis Laws: Cannabis Farm

Despite most countries having strict laws, Israel possesses some of the most progressive cannabis laws in the world. Israel legalized medicinal cannabis in the early 1990s, and they have spearheaded worldwide cannabis research since. Israel is one of three governments worldwide that fund cannabis research, and the R&D teams of many American cannabis companies are on Israeli soil. Additionally, Israel also decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for home use.

The Middle East is home to strict, but not uncommon, cannabis laws, and progressive cannabis laws. Furthermore, Afghanistan is the largest cannabis producer in the world. As the world modernizes, social media and cannabis information might help propel the Middle East into cannabis acceptance.

Asian Cannabis Laws

Moving to Asia Major, many countries enforce strict cannabis laws, like in the Middle East. However, like Israel is to the Middle East, some standout countries have progressive cannabis laws.

The two countries leading the charge of cannabis acceptance in Asia are South Korea and Thailand. South Korea was the first country in Asia to legalize medicinal cannabis, which became law in 2018. Medicinal cannabis is available in South Korea only in pill form; even medical patients cannot obtain marijuana. On the other hand, Thailand is the first Asian country to decriminalize marijuana use, doing so in 2022. Thai citizens can now cultivate small cannabis plants at home for personal use. In addition to South Korea and Thailand, Japan and Malaysia are also laying the legal groundwork for legal cannabis.

The two largest countries in Asia, India and China, have strange cannabis laws. Cannabis was first cultivated in China and India, so cannabis is a major part of their history. For example, India has zero-tolerance cannabis laws for marijuana and hashish, but allows a religious drink called Bhang Lassi, a cannabis-infused drink. Additionally, cannabis is illegal in China, but they are also the world’s biggest producer of hemp. Much like the United States, cannabis lies in a gray area, and depending on what you possess and where you are, you might face no charge or life imprisonment.Worldwide Cannabis Laws: Bhang Lassi

Overall, Asian cannabis laws are quite complex. Since Asia is the birthplace of cannabis, many countries have a long history with the plant but also crack down hard on drug use. Some countries, like India, may be happy with current cannabis legislation, whereas others, like Thailand, wholeheartedly accept cannabis.

Oceania Cannabis Laws

Countries in Oceania, including Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other archipelago islands, take many cues from Asian cannabis laws. These Oceanic countries may be home to the strictest cannabis laws in the world, and there is little exception.

You might be surprised to learn that the Island nation of Indonesia has the fourth-largest population in the world. Additionally, the population of Indonesia faces possibly the strictest cannabis laws in the world. Getting caught with cannabis can result in a prison sentence of up to four years, and repeat offenders and traffickers may never see the light of day again.

Australia is a country with a western population, which stands out in Asia and Oceania. Despite their western culture, Australian cannabis laws are closer to that of their geographic partners than their cultural ones. Australia outlawed recreational marijuana use at the federal level. However, one territory has legalized personal growing personal supplies of cannabis, creating a legal gray area. In contrast to illegal recreational cannabis, Australia does allow some cannabis farms for medicinal and scientific purposes.

All in all, cannabis laws in Oceania are similar to that of the Middle East and Asia. Although some countries stand out, like Australia’s medicinal cannabis, most take a hardline approach to cannabis. As the Western world grows steadily in favor of cannabis use, only time will tell if Eastern nations follow suit.

Worldwide Cannabis Laws Applied To The United States

Ideally, the lawmakers in Washington D.C. would wake up tomorrow and federally legalize recreational cannabis in the United States. They could take notes from Canada, Uruguay, and Malta and implement their legal cannabis laws. However, this is unlikely to happen soon. So, what can the US do in the meantime?

A great first step would be incorporating Israel’s approach to medicinal cannabis funding. Although President Biden recently passed a cannabis research law, it is not enough. The United States should remove cannabis as a Schedule I drug and open the doors for cannabis research. Furthermore, the United States should fund cannabis research, which could result in incredible medicinal cannabis products for taxpayers.

Also, the United States should federally decriminalize cannabis use. No United States citizen should be in prison for cannabis use or possession. Decriminalization would not make cannabis available in stores or plants for personal consumption but would eliminate cannabis-related prison sentences. It is ridiculous that in one state, marijuana is completely legal, and in another, a small amount can land you in jail.

I believe funding cannabis research and federal decriminalization should be the first steps for the United States. These laws will create better medicinal cannabis to support sick people and will prevent more Americans from landing behind bars. Furthermore, our examination of worldwide cannabis laws shows that there is already legal framework to put these laws into action. Someday, cannabis users and farmers across the United States will rejoice when cannabis finally becomes legal. However, they might have to wait for some time.