Talk of marijuana legalization is taking place all over the world.
The conversation took off in late 2012, when Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, and only grew louder when Uruguay did the same last December.
While Uruguay is so far the only country to fully legalize marijuana, a number of others look ready to join.
Argentina’s Supreme Court decriminalized personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, in 2009.
But legalization may be on the horizon. Last December, after Uruguay legalized marijuana, Argentina’s drug czar said his country should consider following suit.
Personal drug possession is also permitted in Brazil, although traffickers are still punished.
But this month, a federal judge took the legal community by surprise when he acquitted a marijuana dealer and ruled the country’s marijuana laws unconstitutional.
While the decision is being appealed, some believe it could lead to a serious reconsideration of the nation’s marijuana policies.
With a federal election due in 2015, a lot of attention is being paid to legalizing marijuana. The leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau, has been an outspoken supporter of regulating marijuana like alcohol.
While Canada’s medical marijuana program is currently transitioning to a commercial market, legalizing recreational marijuana is now part of the Liberal Party’s official campaign platform.
President Otto Perez Molina was one of the loudest supporters of drug policy reform at the U.N. General Assembly last fall. In his address, the President of Guatemala praised Uruguay and the states of Washington and Colorado for taking a “visionary” approach to marijuana policy.
President Molina also announced that his country would undertake a study of alternate approaches to drug laws.
Despite a long cultural tradition of marijuana use, Jamaica has lagged behind more progressive countries when it comes to reform.
But just in the past year, medical marijuana has garnered significant support from top politicians, including the nation’s health minister. Changes in Uruguay and the U.S. have also given legalization activists new hope.
Federal law in Mexico remains tough on all drugs, including marijuana, despite the flourishing drug trade that fuels local cartels. On the other hand, personal possession of drugs has been decriminalized since 2009.
More drastic change could be coming soon to the nation’s capital. This month, Mexico City lawmakers introduced a bill that would legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.
The small African country happens to be the world’s top hash producer. In fact, hash is estimated to contribute as much as 10% to the nation’s economy, and many Moroccan farmers rely on marijuana crops to sustain their livelihood.
Now, two leading political parties have begun to discuss the legalization of medical and industrial cannabis as a way of stimulating the country’s economic growth and legitimizing the trade for farmers who depend on it.
The Netherlands has long been recognized for its liberal approach to marijuana. Since the 70s, coffee shops throughout the country have been permitted to sell marijuana to both residents and tourists.
However, many have been critical of the country’s failure to legalize production and distribution, which has created a ‘back door problem’ by forcing coffee shops to illegally obtain their supply.
With such an obvious hole in the law, it’s no surprise that mayors of 35 cities have come together to call for a fully legalized marijuana system.
9. United States
Under federal law, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug. And despite President Barack Obama’s recent admission that marijuana is probably safer than alcohol, there isn’t much sign of the law changing soon.
On the other hand, the kick-off of legal marijuana sales in Colorado has drawn significant public attention. Washington’s new marijuana laws will also come into play later this year.
Without a major disaster occurring in the two states, it’s likely that, over time, lawmakers will face increasing pressure to legalize marijuana on the federal level.