In spite of cannabis still being stigmatized in various parts of the world, nations are starting to re-examine their stances toward the plant. The use of medical marijuana may have become acceptable in numerous areas, but recreational cannabis legalization may take some time.
With countries like Uruguay and Canada, who took the lead in regulating cannabis and showing the social and financial benefits, other nations may be convinced to try legalizing cannabis themselves. The process may be longer in some areas compared to others, but it’s only a matter of time before attitudes change globally.
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North America remains at the top among other regions of the world in regard to the development of the cannabis industry. As more countries start to liberalize their cannabis laws, more companies will try to enter into this market in order to meet the increasing demand for cannabis products.
In the United States of America, 11 states have legalized its use for all purposes, with another 33 states allowing medical use of cannabis. Momentum to legalize cannabis in the U.S. on a federal level has moved in a positive direction the past few years. A few states have legalized recreational use and more are on the way in the coming years, while new legislation moves through the congress that will allow cannabis establishments to conduct financial services without fear of being penalized.
Canada legalized recreational cannabis in October 2018, making it the second country in the world to do so. The country has provided legal access to medical marijuana and established the legalization for recreational purposes in all provinces. Cannabis legalization paved the way to improve the nation’s economy. Not to mention the fact that by regulating the product and setting production standards, users will be able to consume cannabis safely without any unknown additives.
Europe moves at a slower pace regarding cannabis legalization compared to North America. This is because there are many small countries with varying views toward cannabis. This could be a hurdle to some government in making a decision. It may take one of the bigger European countries to legalize marijuana for the rest to follow. Here are a few countries that could legalize marijuana in the near future:
In Luxembourg, legislators voted unanimously in favor of legalizing the medical use of cannabis and the government promises to legalize recreational cannabis in 2-3 years (2022 or 2023).
Italy legalized medical marijuana and may be on the path to recreational uses soon. They have a system called ‘cannabis light,’ which gives access to cannabis with very low potency.
The Czech Republic has decriminalized marijuana and legalized medical marijuana. It has been regarded as one of the most liberal nations in the European Union with its lenient drug policies and became a tourist attraction for marijuana enthusiasts. In the event that other nations start legalizing, the Czech Republic may likely do so as well.
Portugal is known in the world for decriminalizing all illegal drugs in 2001. Then in 2018, they legalized medical marijuana which took effect in January 2019.
Germany, although currently has only legalized medical use, considers joining the list of industrialized countries who plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the near future. There are members of the nation’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who started an open discussion about cannabis legalization, a historic policy turn for the conservative party.
Cannabis legalization is becoming more and more popular not only in Europe and North America but in Latin America as well. Uruguay’s legalization of recreational marijuana paved the way for more liberal policies and laws across the region. Other countries followed and started to have laws that legalize medical cannabis, hemp, or cannabidiol (CBD) products, like Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, and Chile. This year, Mexico may become the first country to legalize recreational marijuana based entirely on a ruling by its Supreme Court.
In Asia, the medical cannabis industry is gaining momentum and the region is hinting at more reforms that will provide regulatory security and commercial confidence to the sector. With Thailand and South Korea’s legalization of medical cannabis, some experts predict that other Asian countries may move to decriminalize the plant.
New Zealand passed a legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana in 2018. Moreover, they declared that during the 2020 general election, they would also hold a binding referendum regarding the legalization and regulation of cannabis.
Australia legalized medical cannabis in 2016, then in some states, like the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), steps have been made to legalize adult use of the drug.
In Africa, marijuana legalization has made significant progress over the years. Some countries allow medical use like Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Malawi, while South Africa legalized recreational marijuana for personal cultivation as well as private consumption.