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With Canada recently legalizing the widespread use of recreational cannabis, we are now, at least unofficially, seeing the beginning stages of the end of marijuana prohibition as we know it. The legalization in Canada remains a huge milestone in the fight for recreational green, as it's become the largest country to legalize pot, and the second country overall (behind Venezuela).
Thanks to the precedent set by Canada, the door is now open for other countries to follow suit. While some are, admittedly, more receptive to the idea than others, there are still a number of countries more than willing to make major adjustments to their pre-existing cannabis laws.
So let's take a look at some of the countries poised to legalize cannabis soon, in the hopes that we'll see substantial change sooner, rather than later.
You don't need to go to cannabis 101 to know that weed is quite popular in Amsterdam. Surprisingly enough, however, weed isn't actually legal in the Netherlands quite yet. There are still some marijuana laws in place. However, there is little doubt the country will fully legalize recreational cannabis in the coming years.
As of now, the plant is largely decriminalized, and patrons are allowed to smoke it in designated cannabis cafes. Don't be surprised if you see the Netherlands squash the formalities and make it legal altogether.
Jamaica is definitely another surprising addition to this list, for much of the same reasoning. Most people safely assume that weed is legal in Jamaica, but that's not necessarily the case.
Jamaica, like the Netherlands, has simply decriminalized small amounts of marijuana and legalized medical marijuana, so it hasn't fully legalized cannabis... yet. But it's only an inevitability at this point for them to take the plunge with fully legalizing marijuana.
After going down the rabbit hole a little further, we have the country of Colombia. Obviously, Colombia is more known for its other drugs (hint: Pablo Escobar), so cannabis sort of flies under the radar.
As of now, they've simply legalized medical marijuana, but they plan on becoming one of the world's leading exporters of the plant, so the only next logical step would be fully legalized cannabis. After all, the production and sales provide an excellent opportunity for the country to get a solid export.
While the country of Spain isn't necessarily synonymous with jazz cabbage, it's surprisingly been huge in its development as a legitimate medicinal tool. Not only has it provided some of the most impactful studies on the plant, but it also allows some use of recreational pot in cannabis cafes.
Obviously, the writing is on the wall for widespread legalization of cannabis, it's just a matter of when, not if.
Legalizing marijuana isn't always a fast process. Portugal remains one of the most progressive countries when it comes to drugs (they decriminalized ALL drugs back in 2010), so it might come as a shock to some that they haven't legalized recreational marijuana.
But with their liberal views on the matter, it's definitely on the docket for legislators. Look for some sort of change to federal law within the next year or so. The legal system just moves slowly in every corner of the world.
France is another progressive country seemingly just ITCHING to legalize recreational marijuana. While there is somewhat of a power struggle going on in regards to the country's increasingly socialist policies, reaping the benefits of legal cannabis could serve as a potential bandaid to the existing economic issues.
The tax revenue from legal marijuana will certainly benefit the country in more ways than one, so don't be surprised if you hear some sort of announcement regarding weed policy in the somewhat near future.
Mexico's new leftist president has introduced a bold new legislation, which would effectively allow Mexican citizens to grow and sell their own plants. It would also allow businesses to grow and sell cannabis for commercial, medicinal, and recreational use. They have a lot to gain if they legalize and regulate the marijuana industry in their country.
The bill hasn't been signed to action quite yet, but it's only an inevitability at this point. If you're thinking about going on a trip to Mexico, your vacation might get a whole lot more fun.
Iceland has one of the highest percentages of people who smoke regularly, with close to 20 percent of its population admitting to smoking cannabis. Granted, Iceland doesn't have the largest population, but that's still a hefty percentage! It'd be crazy if they weren't one of the countries poised to legalize cannabis soon with numbers like that.
They've made a few steps toward legalization thus far, so don't be shocked if it becomes one of the next countries to legalize it on a federal scale.
Out of all of these countries, it could be argued that South Africa is closest to widespread legalization of recreational marijuana. Recently, South Africa's Constitutional Court (the country's highest) made a radical decision to allow the private use of marijuana for adults. This includes the cultivation and physical act of smoking.
However, the drug is fully legalized quite yet, but this is obviously a good sign of things to come for South Africa. Public use without persecution still needs to be ironed out, but it's pretty clear that it's on the horizon. At least, based on what they've done so far.
The United States
Most readers should not be surprised about this one. Federal weed legalization has been a huge topic of discussion in the United States. Everyone's got their eyes on the Supreme Court. As it stands, 30 states have legalized medicinal marijuana, while another 10 states (and the District of Columbia) have legalized it recreationally.
With more and more states jumping on the bandwagon, it's only a matter of time before the plant is fully legal. Or at the very least, decriminalized on a federal level and left up to state jurisdiction. Either way, it's certainly one of the countries poised to legalize cannabis soon. With the ongoing opioid epidemic in the US and the fact that cannabis effectively treats opiate withdrawal, the writing appears to be on the wall.