Cultivating, selling or transporting marijuana, however, can incur criminal charges anywhere in the country.
“If somebody is found with small amounts of cannabis for personal use, the primary response for me isn’t a law enforcement response, it’s a public response,” says Professor Steve Allsop of the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University. “Putting people into the criminal justice system creates harm.”
In 2016, Australia legalized marijuana for medicinal use. But patients say that they face steep challenges trying to obtain the drug, including limited supply, uninformed doctors and high costs.
Worldwide, where is marijuana legal?
Currently, marijuana is only fully legal in a few places: Uruguay and parts of the United States. In Uruguay, which became the first country to legalize marijuana in 2013, it’s even sold in pharmacies.
But dozens of other countries have relaxed their marijuana laws over the years, legalizing medical marijuana, decriminalizing recreational use or easing the enforcement of possession laws. Argentina, Cambodia, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Peru and (somewhat surprisingly) North Korea are just some of the countries that don’t criminalize marijuana use.
One notable example is Portugal, where the use of all illicit drugs was decriminalized in 2001 and drug users are mainly sent to treatment programs or fined. Since then, the country’s prevalence of HIV infection, drug-related imprisonment and overdoses have dropped.
Jamaica, a country long associated with marijuana and Rastafarianism, also recently relaxed its laws around marijuana possession in 2015.