The legalization of Marijuana around the world

Marijuana is a drug that leaves a lot of people divided, its legalisation a contentious issue across the world. For some, it is viewed a drug of recreational use, just like unwinding with a drink after a hard day. For others, marijuana has medicinal properties, aiding those in chronic pain. And for others still, some would argue marijuana use is nothing but a slippery slope to worse drugs—known as a gateway drug. However you see it, there is a lot to talk about on this subject. Let’s take a look at the legalisation of marijuana around the world.


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What is marijuana?

Marijuana, also known as cannabis and all kinds of other names, is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. Users experience a change in perception, improved moods, a sense of relaxation, and of course, the inevitable munchies! Some also suffer from an increase in paranoia, needing increasing amounts of the drug to feel the same high. Others say that marijuana contributes to memory loss, respiratory problems, and the behavioural problems of children whose mothers smoked marijuana while they were in the womb. Men are even said to become impotent or infertile with continued cannabis use.


Pros and cons of legalisation

Those opposing its legalisation fear that if marijuana use is legal, it will lead to more drugged drivers on the road. Others argue that they just don’t like the idea of people having access to something that leaves them high all the time. Would you trust someone to cut your hair, drive your bus, teach your children, and so on, if they were stoned? But of course these aren’t the only views. Those who use marijuana to help with the symptoms of PTSD, arthritis, cancer, and all kinds of other diseases and ailments, would argue that marijuana helps them live their lives. More would argue that everything people insist results from cannabis use we suffer from anyway because drinking alcohol is legal. People are supposed to self-regulate their alcohol intake by not driving after drinking, knowing their limits, and so on; why is that not the same for cannabis users? Surely the choice should be down to the individual?


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Closer to home

What does cannabis use look like here in Australia? Australia is said to have one of the highest numbers of cannabis users in the world, with 750,000 Australians thought to use the drug weekly, and 300,000 every day. The drug is used mostly for recreational purposes, though a growing number are obtaining it to help with medical issues. 

Victoria was the first state, in 2017, to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis. Cannabis for recreational use and possession is now legal in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory beyond, though is still a criminal offence in other parts of the country. Cannabis legalisation came into force for the ACT on the 31st of January 2020. There are various schemes through which those in need of cannabis for medicinal purposes can obtain the drug through their doctors where its use is not yet legal. Australia on the whole is looking to implement a single medical licence for cannabis producers to make things simpler for all who need it.


Around the world

What about legalisation of marijuana in the rest of the world? America’s policies on cannabis use and possession vary from state to state, with a racial bias in prosecution that regularly makes the news. For the U.K. recreational use of cannabis is illegal, attracting an on-the-spot fine for those caught in possession of the drug in place of prosecution. Though the use of marijuana is considered legal for some cases of severe epilepsy, the vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy, or multiple sclerosis, but only when prescribed by a registered specialist doctor.


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Elsewhere, cannabis is legal for recreational use in only a few countries, namely Canada, Georgia, South Africa, and Uruguay. Some countries opt for a decriminalisation process making possession, to a point, a noncriminal offence. These countries with decriminalisation laws include: Antigua, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech, Ecuador, Estonia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago, 

The numbers of countries who have legalised marijuana purely for medicinal use is far higher, including the following: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, and Thailand. Of course, as in the U.K., this varies widely depending on the medical condition.

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