Approximately 147 million people in the world today consume cannabis, which is around 2.5 percent of the global population. Governments around the world are recognizing the benefits of consuming cannabis, including benefits to the economy and public health. The job growth, investment opportunities, and increased taxable revenue that come from cannabis businesses, combined with the use of cannabis to treat rare illnesses and chronic pain, are all incentives behind many countries’ decision to legalize, or, at the very least, to decriminalize the drug.
We are gradually seeing cannabis laws relax around the world. As summer travel comes back into full swing, we’ve taken some time to highlight some of the major countries where weed is legal or decriminalized. In each of these destinations, there’s a good chance you and a canna-loving friend will be able to find some bud, and maybe even some 420-themed excursions.
Is cannabis legal in Canada? The answer is yes, but read the fine print.
Canada became the first country in the world to legalize cannabis for medical use in 2001. In 2019, recreational cannabis was fully legalized.
Even so, young travelers should be cautious. There is a minimum age for the purchase of recreational cannabis from licensed Canadian dispensaries, and this varies depending on the specific province you’re in. Typically, it’s between 18 and 21 years old, so if you’re anywhere between those ages, do some research on the laws of the province you’ll be visiting before trying to get your greens in the Great White North.
The Netherlands is one of the countries people most often think of when it comes to consuming cannabis. Here, cannabis is decriminalized for personal use (possession of up to five grams) and responsible recreational consumption is widely tolerated by law enforcement (just don’t push it).
For several decades, people in the Netherlands have enjoyed recreational cannabis in the country’s famous “coffee shops”, making the Netherlands an excellent destination for cannabis enthusiasts.
Jamaica is another popular tourist destination that has strong links to cannabis (widely known there as “ganja”). The government of Jamaica amended its laws on cannabis in 2015. Possession of up to two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis was reduced to a petty offense and the cultivation of five or fewer plants is now permitted.
If you are a tourist with a prescription for medical cannabis, you can apply for a permit to purchase small amounts. What’s more, if you are a Rastafarian, you may consume cannabis for religious purposes.
Cannabis, as with all other drugs, was decriminalized in Portugal in 2001. In 2018, medical use of cannabis was legalized. Possession of cannabis for personal use here is allowed for up to 25 grams.
Portugal’s approach to cannabis and other drugs has served as a model for many other countries around the world.
In Italy, cannabis is legal for both medical and industrial uses, while it has been decriminalized for recreational uses. Medical cannabis was legalized here in 2013.
Fun fact: In 2020, the region of Sicily changed its laws to make cannabis free of charge to patients who have been prescribed the drug in order to treat various health conditions.
The most recent addition to this list, Thailand decriminalized cannabis on June 9th, 2022. It is the first Asian country to take this step.
Penalties will still apply to those who use the drug for recreational purposes, and smoking a joint in public is still prohibited. But it is no longer a crime to grow and sell cannabis products in Thailand, and you can use the drug for medicinal purposes.
These countries where weed is legal are great destinations for any 420 vacation, and they aren’t the only countries cannabis enthusiasts might enjoy. Cannabis is decriminalized in other countries, this list simply covers where it is easiest to consume cannabis as a tourist.
Do your research before attempting to purchase and consume cannabis in a foreign country, and avoid bringing recreational cannabis on planes when flying internationally, as the penalties for violating drug laws can be severe.
That said, many travelers have deeply fulfilling experiences exploring new places in an elevated state of mind. Interacting with other cannabis consumers in a new country is a great way to find new products, ease travel anxieties, and bond with strangers through a shared interest. So, next time you’re abroad, don’t be afraid to puff, puff, and pass.