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LEGALIZATION STATUS OF MARIJUANA IN NORTH AMERICA, EUROPE, AND ASIATo the 21st century generation, marijuana is known by several different names including cannabis, pot, hemp, weed, ganja, etc. It is essentially a psychoactive drug that causes a change in perception leading to a feeling of euphoria. It can be obtained from the dried flower of Cannabis sativa, a plant that was ideally indigenous to Eastern Asia but is now grown in most of the parts of the world because of its growing popularity.

The world is currently divided in opinion about legalizing the use of marijuana for medical as well as recreational purposes. According to a report by Inkwood Research, the global marijuana testing market is forecasted to grow at 11.40% CAGR by the year 2025. Although the pros and cons regarding the medical use of marijuana are greatly weighed upon by several experts, it is interesting to know what stands different countries have been taking towards legalizing it.

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North America

Since marijuana has a high chance of being abused by its users, it is classified into Schedule I substance under the federal government’s Controlled Substance Act of 1970. However, in recent times, the federal government has given consensus to its state for passing a law to decriminalize cannabis for medical or recreational purposes by keeping the regulatory system in check. Nearly 28 states in the U.S, including California, Alaska, Colorado, Washington, and Massachusetts have legalized the use of marijuana for medical use. Canada is also fast catching up on this trend, with many prominent Canadian companies already investing in the U.S marijuana market. With celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Russell Brand, Miley Cyrus and Paloma Faith advocating for cannabis legalization, the North American region has fairly opened up to the idea. In fact, the Liberal Democrats announced to legalize the drug for sale on the high street in the run-up of 2017 General Election. With a total spent of $6.7 million, the cannabis North Amerian market surely looks promising.


There has been a tremendous pressure on Europe to follow suit, but in July 2017, the U.K government officials announced that they had no intention to legalize marijuana. The decision received severe backlash from experts working in the field of cannabis use for recreational use with Ian Hamilton, a drug researcher based at York University, condemning the decision as “falling behind in adopting progressive policies for drug use.” Surprisingly, many young Europeans have firm views about the use of marijuana. According to a recent survey, almost half of the respondents were in favor of banning the sale of marijuana, rather than regulating it. However, countries like the Netherlands have shown a change in their attitude.   Netherland houses coffee shops which act as legal outlets for the sale of marijuana for recreational use. Polls show an impressive 70% support for cannabis legalization in this country.


Although still a punishable offense, the laws for marijuana possessions in South East Asia are comparatively lenient than those in Europe and North America. Countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia are the go-to destination for cannabis Asia-Pacific market players. Although governments in these regions have taken a stand against the abuse of its use, marijuana is still openly consumed in a milder form due to cultural history. For instance, Bhaang, a cannabis-infused milk preparation is consumed in India during many celebratory festivals. Lately, the country has also witnessed an increase in petitions and social movements to consider the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In July 2017, Dr. Dharamvira Gandhi, a retired cardiologist, and a member of the parliament from Patiala has initiated a bill to legalize certain natural intoxicants, including cannabis for medical use. The Great Legislation Movement India, initiated by Vicki Vaurora, is increasingly working towards eliminating the associated social stigma for cannabis use in medicine. In fact, the organization has recently announced a nation-wide awareness rally on 7th January 2018.

Overall, going by the general trend of recognizing the benefits of marijuana for medical and therapeutic use by the medical fraternity and the increase in the number of global cannabis testing facilities, it is safe to conclude that in the future, there is a high possibility that governments in various regions would be inclined to legalize marijuana, albeit under strict regulations.

Jui Pande

Author: Jui Pande

Sr. Content Writer and Editor, Inkwood Research

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