As Americans, we like to think that our country is the most forward-thinking nation out there. We like the idea of allowing our citizens to have more freedoms than they might be awarded in other countries. But is the U.S. the most progressive country when it comes to the usage of medical marijuana?
As more states in the U.S. are legalizing recreational marijuana, the whole country is looking to see how the regulations of cannabis (both medicinal or not) are being enforced and utilized. Because the U.S. is at the forefront of this, many outside countries are paying close attention to see how the laws are implemented. The use of MMJ cards was first established in California in 1996. Several states followed suit, including Hawaii and Colorado. Currently, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in 29 states (as well as the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C.). Although medical marijuana use is legal in many states, the actual regulations can vary greatly from state to state.
So, how does the U.S. compare to other countries? Here’s some info on medical marijuana policies around the world.
Colombia has legalized MMJ usage, and citizens are permitted to possess up to 22 grams at a time. They also have a very relaxed law that states that one person can grow up to 20 marijuana plants if it’s for personal consumption. This number is a lot higher than most countries, like the U.S., which only permits six plants to be grown at one time for recreational use.
The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is fairly new to the MMJ game with legislation only being passed in 2013. There have been regulations instated to decriminalize marijuana usage, with Czech citizens being allowed to grow up to five plants at a time. Also, individuals can possess up to 15 grams of marijuana and up to five grams of hashish. The nation even hosts a big festival named Cannafest, which celebrates marijuana.
Medical marijuana has been permitted in Italy for quite some time, and the country has progressed to become one of the most unrestricted marijuana areas in the world. Italians voted for the decriminalization of possession of drugs (so individuals with small quantities of five grams or less are no longer subject to criminal charges). Citizens are also permitted to grow a reasonable amount of marijuana plants, as long as they are not used for trafficking purposes.
Although medical marijuana is legal in Jamaica, recreational use is still against the law. However, the country has recently relaxed its laws on possession and has decriminalized it for medical use and for the purpose of Rastafarian religious ceremonies (where cannabis or “ganja” is used as a sacred herb that allows the soul to rise).
The Netherlands (especially Amsterdam) has gotten the reputation of being a major marijuana-friendly region. There are even “coffee shops” that allow consumers to take part in marijuana sales. In 2017, the Dutch government even legalized the production of cannabis. Additionally, MMJ products can be purchased without a prescription.
Portugal has decriminalized marijuana since 2001, when they decided that the possession of any drug found in small quantities would not be considered illegal. Portugal is very progressive in the fact that they believe drug use should be deemed a health issue, not a criminal one. Instead of arresting their citizens for drug possession, those found with drugs are sent to medical panels (with a psychologist, social worker, and legal adviser) who all work to come up with an appropriate treatment plan for that individual.
Spain actually has relatively relaxed laws since medical marijuana can be purchased without a prescription. Consumption by adults in private locations is legal, which means citizens can grow marijuana plants for personal consumption (as long as they’re kept hidden from public view). However, the selling and trading of cannabis products is still illegal.
In 2013, Uruguay made history by becoming the first (and only) country in the world to fully legalize marijuana (including the possession, selling, transportation, and growing of cannabis). The marijuana market is still strictly regulated since citizens are only allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants at their residence, and each individual can only buy a maximum of 10 grams per week. However, the main upside is that prices of marijuana products are cheaper than in other countries. Plus, MMJ products can be purchased without a prescription.
Once you learn about how other countries are controlling the usage of marijuana products, you’ll find that the U.S. is right up there in terms of being forward-thinking. Although different states have a variety of laws regarding consumption of recreational marijuana, those with MMJ cards in the U.S. face less restrictions with your cannabis. Although recreational users are limited to one ounce of flower (or eight grams of cannabis concentrates) at one time, MMJ cardholders can purchase and possess as much cannabis as the treatment of their medical condition requires. These limitations also apply to edibles; recreational consumers can have a maximum of 10mg doses at a time, while those with a medical marijuana card don’t have this restriction.
So, while there are many countries working towards positive changes with both recreational and medical marijuana, America is one of the most progressive countries out there – striving for laws that permit MMJ users to purchase and possess the cannabis products that will be the most obtainable and effective for them. And maybe the U.S. can take some ideas of what has worked in other progressive countries to help move us even further along.