The marijuana business is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. More and more people of varying cultures and backgrounds are warming up to the idea of legalizing marijuana, especially for medical issues. Countries like Canada have even taken the leap to legalize marijuana for recreational consumption, acting as a model for countries seeking decriminalization and new legislation of their own.
However, the disparities between different countries’ marijuana legislations are vast, to say the least. Even countries like the United States, who have decriminalized marijuana in several states, have yet to pass legislation for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. Likewise, although a country may have legalized marijuana for various medical purposes, legislation often varies depending on the state or region. There are countless laws regulating everything from the procurement, sale, consumption and even advertisement of marijuana. Naturally, there are some laws that stand out for being strange, innovative or just plain bizarre. In no particular order, let’s take a look at five of the weirdest marijuana laws around the world.
1. Festival-Only Marijuana in Nepal
Marijuana has been illegal in all parts of Nepal since 1973. A special exception is made, however, for one day a year during Maha Shivaratri. Maha Shivaratri is a major Hindu festival celebrated annually to honor Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The festival is an unusually solemn event and typically involves meditation, fasting, and introspection.
A national holiday in Nepal, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated across the country, with various rituals and dances performed throughout the night. Most likely used as a tool to enhance or facilitate self-study, hashish is legally smoked during the festival, often in groups. Typically mixed with some sort of tobacco or other herbs, hashish is made from the resin of cannabis plants and has been consumed in Nepal for centuries.
2. Homemade Swiss Marijuana
Although minor possession of marijuana has been decriminalized to a fine since 2012, marijuana is still illegal in Switzerland. While their citizens seem to be largely in favor of legalization movements, the Swiss government has yet to budge on the issue. As a surprisingly innovative response to the debate, the government decided to legalize the sale of cannabis products containing up to one percent of THC.
THC is the ingredient in marijuana that makes consumers feel “high.” The newly developed strain of marijuana is now widely sold across the country and is available in nearly every tobacco store. Despite the products not producing the typical high one might expect from marijuana, they have been extremely popular. Swiss consumers report that the products are especially useful for sleep problems and stress.
3. Keeping Marijuana in the Dark in Connecticut
Although marijuana is still illegal in Connecticut, it has been decriminalized. Medical marijuana gets a pass in the state and is legal, but heavily regulated. One of the more unusual laws for medical marijuana in Connecticut has to do with the signs used to advertise marijuana dispensaries.
While it is legal to own and operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Connecticut, the law becomes tricky for signs used to advertise the facility’s products. Given the nature of the business, dispensaries are free to display a marijuana leaf as their logo or in advertisements. However, it is illegal to display a marijuana leaf on any illuminated signs or anywhere on the outside of the dispensary building.
Put simply, while it is completely safe to have a picture of a marijuana leaf inside a Connecticut dispensary, the owner would be subject to legal action should they choose to draw any attention to the advertisement using illumination. Likewise, if their logo includes a marijuana leaf, its consumption is limited to the inside of the dispensary. This is likely a move to encourage dispensaries to be more inconspicuous in nature and prevent advertising to anyone under 18.
4. Advertising Limitations in Delaware
Similar to Connecticut, Delaware has decriminalized recreational marijuana and legalized marijuana for medical reasons. The states’ respective laws for advertising medical marijuana are also similarly detailed, setting clear limitations on where and how a dispensary can advertise their products.
In Delaware, advertising for medical marijuana is prohibited in print, broadcast or in-person solicitations. This limits advertisement to listings in business directories, such as phone books, trade or medical publications or sponsorship of health and wellness related events. Clearly, this is a huge obstacle for medical marijuana dispensaries who are looking to expand their outreach and advertise their products to potential customers.
An obvious move by the state government to curb recreational marijuana consumption, these advertising regulations serve to limit public knowledge of dispensaries. Think about this- when is the last time you searched for a reliable business in a phone book? The digital age has rendered these forms of advertisement completely dated and nearly useless to create a thriving business, forcing dispensary owners to get more creative with their marketing tactics.
5. Spirituality and Marijuana in Jamaica
It may come as a shock that marijuana, while decriminalized, is not legal for recreational consumption in Jamaica. Contrary to popular belief, up until 2015, possessing even small amounts of marijuana could land someone in jail. Today, the laws have become increasingly lenient in Jamaica, however, that caught smoking cannabis are still subject to fine.
One special exception to the law applies to those of the Rastafari faith. Practitioners of Rastafari are legally able to consume marijuana in Jamaica for religious purposes only. Rastas smoke marijuana in ritual contexts and often consume marijuana in the form of tea, spices in cooking and for medicinal purposes.
Due to Jamaica’s major emphasis on spirituality, the government offers practitioners of Rastafarianism protection from legislation prohibiting marijuana consumption. Marijuana is referred to as the “holy herb” used in Rastafari rituals and smoking the plant is considered a “principle ritual” for those of Rastafari faith. Because of this, the Jamaican government continues to turn a blind eye to the practice, considering marijuana an essential tool for Rastafari spirituality.
Legislation Moving Forward
Currently, marijuana is only completely legal for both recreational and medical consumption in a few countries, including Uruguay and Canada. While Uruguay has the distinction of being the first country to completely legalize marijuana, other countries like Canada and South Africa have quickly followed suit, setting the path for more nations to consider decriminalization, at the very least.
Still, there are many nations who continue to hand down several years of jail time for just the possession of marijuana. Some, like China, even force their citizens to attend a federal rehab if they’re caught with any substance considered a drug, including marijuana. Only time will tell how the world will choose to respond to the marijuana movement. What is clear, however, is that there will be no shortage of wacky and peculiar marijuana laws to come.