Marijuana users have always sought legal loopholes in countries where it is illegal to own or smoke it. Many people choose to buy marijuana seeds (which is legal in many places), then grow and smoke their own (which is not!) But every marijuana smoker has probably dreamed at one point or another of living in a country where marijuana is legal – or at least where the “rules” concerning possession are so lax that it is effectively legal.
Most people know about Holland’s famously relaxed laws regarding marijuana (which is why it doesn’t feature on the list below!) While no other country has achieved such high profile recognition for making marijuana legal, a number of places around the world have quietly relaxed their laws concerning possession for personal use. In most of these countries, possession still remains technically illegal, but penalties are not enforced if you are within certain guidelines – this is known as decriminalisation.
So, if living in a country where marijuana possession isn’t punished by the law sounds like heaven, here are five places you should consider emigrating!
After a recent court debate about whether or not to punish those who buy and grow marijuana, Argentina has effectively made marijuana legal if it is in small quantities for personal use. A leading judge in Argentina even decided that it was “unconstitutional” to legislate against marijuana possession! Those who buy marijuana seeds and grow their own are also leniently treated, so long as they are growing a small number of plants. The country is also notably supportive of several medical marijuana programs.
Before you go booking a one way ticket to Sydney, make sure you do your research. Different regions have different rules, but Western Australia, Southern Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland have all decriminalised marijuana to a certain degree. In Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland, police have taken to “ticketing” those caught with less than 50 grams of marijuana rather than arresting them, and Western and Southern Australia have instituted on the spot fines for minor possession rather than official warnings or arrests.
Since 2003, the Belgian government has made the possession and use of marijuana legal under the following conditions:
The amount possessed is 5 grams or less
You are over 18
You do not smoke in the presence of minors
You do not smoke in public
You can buy marijuana seeds and grow them in Belgium without penalty – however, you are only allowed to own one female plant. The purchase and sale of marijuana is still illegal, but most Belgians simply get their marijuana in Holland.
Colombia, has had relaxed laws concerning drug possession for over ten years. Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, one gram of cocaine and one gram of heroin is not considered to be illegal, although things may change – recent conservative governments have considered repealing this law to combat Colombia’s drug culture.
Unlike the other countries on this list, Nepal doesn’t have an actual decriminalisation policy towards marijuana – it’s rather that the laws they have are hardly ever enforced! Marijuana used to be legal in Nepal, making it a hippy Mecca in the 1960’s and early 70’s. It has been illegal since 1973 – not that you’d notice. Marijuana is widely available and used, especially by Nepalese holy men. Note that smuggling and growing are punished, but possession and personal use rarely are – if the police catch you smoking they will stop you, but only to collect a small bribe!