When people talk about legal developments in marijuana, they’re usually talking about the United States or the Netherlands. It’s also famous in Jamaica and a few other countries. But there is a whole world out there where cannabis is grown and consumed. What about those other places? From Canada to Peru, Australia, Korea, Thailand and more, what do they have going on? Most of the countries of the world have laws against growing, selling and possessing marijuana. Why is that? Well, thanks to dependence on foreign aid, and big countries throwing their weight around, it can be pretty difficult to find decent herb. In some countries it is illegal but overlooked, others have minimal policing efforts (read: bribes are OK) and in some countries the penalties include harsh jail times or even execution. All that for a weed that, if left unchecked, will grow just about anywhere.
How did this happen? Until the early 20th century, hemp and cannabis were grown throughout the world for industrial and medicinal purposes. Some countries even had laws requiring farmers to grow it so they could meet minimum requirements for many different industries. In the space of just a few decades all this changed. US and UK governments pulled a 180 on their stance for the plant and suddenly everyone was forced to go along for the ride. They were superpowers of their day; the British Empire was waning, as the United States’ strength was gaining. The influence these two countries wielded was enormous. The British government passed the Dangerous Drugs Act in 1927, and exported versions of it to all its colonies and territories such as New Zealand and Australia. This effectively ended growth and trade for many drugs like opium and coca, but also included cannabis. In 1925 the League of Nations (Failed precursor to the UN) added it to the list of controlled substances. The United States followed suit shortly afterward (at the prodding of HJ Anslinger and the Hearst Media empire). So, the UK, US and League of Nations were busy sticking their nose in other people’s business and making life less enjoyable. There was a slight turnaround during World War 2 because hemp was needed for war purposes. But once the war was done, right back to ILLEGAL!
After World War 2 ended, the USA was the big dog and started telling more countries what to do. They were sending troops to some countries and withholding aid from others until they passed laws that agreed with our own. Trade barriers were erected, international interdependence increased and the US was busy buying and selling raw materials and finished products. If Thailand or Uganda or Columbia wanted in on the action they had to play by American rules. So laws were set down, with varying degrees of punishment, and they could enter the global trade game. As things stand today, there is a majority global ban on growth and sale of cannabis. Yet, if one takes the time to tour the world and hit up backwater areas, or derelict buildings with brand new electrical systems, they will find grow-ops flourishing. In Hawaii, drug enforcement uses helicopters for flyovers to see who is growing in their backyard. In Burma there are military crackdown raids with seek-and-destroy orders. But in England, the company that produces Marinol has several massive and state-of-the-art technology Classified grow-op centers that any California cooperative would drool over.
Times they are a changing and it seems the cannabis plant will bear fruit once more. Hopefully the laws against this plant will decay as more and more people realize it poses no harm, and can only help humanity. We may even see a domino effect once the US government pulls its head out of the sand and ends the federal ban. Stay tuned for more updates on the status of marijuana worldwide.