There’s nothing particularly rational about what countries prohibit weed. Those nations perceived as repressive live up to their reputation. But, the list of nations where marijuana is illegal in every form has a surprising number of countries considered “open” and “progressive.”
For example, you might not be surprised at prohibition in China, Philippines, or the Arab nations. But, at the moment, pot is also officially prohibited in Denmark Finland France, Ireland, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom, and more.
So, if you are going to travel internationally, you better consider where weed is prohibited and where countries are weed-friendly.
- The Netherlands has become the psychological destination for cannabis tourists. People may hold up to 5 grams of grass for use in public or their “coffee shops” without fear of criminal charge although it can be confiscated under police emergency. Sale has been decriminalized in their coffee shops. And, residents can raise up to five plants, but transport of the product is illegal in unenforced in the coffee shops.
- Spain has decriminalized possession and use of weed in certain autonomous areas, but you may be cited with an administrative fine. Possession of 70 – 100 grams is deemed possession with the intent to deal. Selling in public is a criminal offense, but you can buy in Spain’s private “420 Clubs.” Carrying has been decriminalized, and you can raise cannabis for your own use – if the plants are not visible from the street.
- South Africa has no restrictions on personal use or home cultivation. But, sale and transport remain illegal. And, Chile and Jamaica permit residents to grow marijuana.
- Uruguay is the only nation where possession and use of medical and recreational marijuana is fully legal. It does restrict purchase to those residents of Uruguay who are over 18. The grass must be raised by authorized farmers, and buyers must register with authorities. The LA Times reported, “The country now has many legal cannabis clubs, which pool resources to grow copious amounts of marijuana and distribute it to registered, paying members — no doctor's note required — who can then smoke where they please.” But, tourists cannot secure the legal registration and will be turned away from clubs.
All other nations have some restrictions, whether enforced or not, that you’ll want to know about before planning your tour.
- Australia bans sale and transportation of marijuana across the country. But, medical and scientific uses are legal, and personal use and cultivation of one or two plants for personal use have been decriminalized - in Northern Territory, South Australia, and Australian Capital Territory. These territories cover most tourist destinations, and enforcement across the vast nation beyond these designated areas is virtually impossible.
- Brazil prohibits, “The possession of cannabis in any amount (even the smallest quantity for personal usage), smoking, trading, and cultivation” according to Marijuana Tours. Highly placed judicial powers are pushing for stronger laws, but depending on the location, the police may or may not be lenient in implementing laws that lead to arrest, fine, and/or imprisonment.
- Czech Republic has become a favorite destination for millennials, but it has restrictions on marijuana possession and use. Inside or outside Prague, you can carry up to 15 grams in a decriminalized climate. Sale of medical marijuana is legal; sale for other purposes is still illegal. Transportation and farming are illegal. But, they have decriminalized transport of up to 15 grams of licensed medical marijuana and up to 5 plants for licensed personal medical use. Kushtourism says, “it’s generally easy for individuals to find people at bars, clubs, or concerts that will discreetly sell small amount of marijuana…there is not a big cause for concern about arrest.”
- India officially bans marijuana, but it has been legalized or decriminalized in the states of Bihar, Gujrat, Odisha, West Benghal, and the North East. And, these are the states that attract most travelers.
Any canna-tourist knows that some places are very tolerant even though their stance is officially prohibitive. You will find smokers fairly common in Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, and Puerto Rico where it has been decriminalized.
Most nations prohibit the possession, use, sale, transport, and cultivation of pot officially. But, taking a risk in certain cultures is not worth the trip. You certainly don’t want to wind up in prison in:
- North Korea is so secretive we don’t know the government’s position on weed. Considering they have imprisoned an American to hard labor just for stealing a poster, theirs is not a judiciary you want to mess with.
- Philippines has its share of users and some outspoken advocates, but under the current government “shoot first, ask later” policy on drugs, it’s not worth the risk in bringing weed in and/or using it in public.
- Singapore has a no-nonsense police presence and inflexible penal code. High Times reported on the November 18, 2016 execution of a Nigerian national. Admittedly, Chijioke Stephen Obioha was caught in possession of 2.6 kilograms, well above the 500-gram quantity benchmark for a presumption of dealing.
- Myanmar, too, bans marijuana. Its unpredictable government delivers its autocratic policies through a tough police force where foreigners’ infractions can make them hostages to the regime. The situation parallels that in Cambodia, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
As world politics fluctuate dynamically, you owe to yourself to stay informed. Repressive governments in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, and others are not place to mess with the police.
Countries on the edge of political volatility like Bangladesh, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey have high traditional high tolerance for weed use, but they also have a history of government changes that can be severely regressive.
How to travel well
If you intend to travel internationally, you must do two things:
- Educate yourself. You must do research on what is permitted in terms of usage and possession in the country you want to visit. And, frankly, you can’t depend on the anecdotal reports on weed forums. Just because one guy got away with one trick, doesn’t mean you can or should.
- Be sensible. If you’re holding and using under 18, you’re asking for bad treatment. With research in mind, you can plan a canna-tour for the best time by pacing your buying and usage where it is legal or acceptable among people you trust.
Long story short: just because you’re traveling out of Boulder, the world may not welcome your habits.