Marijuana Legalization Around The World: Who's Next?

On Tuesday, Benzinga published an article where cannabis industry experts shared their thoughts regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada. But, America’s hat is not the only country considering legalization measures.

In order to shed some light on legalization prospects abroad, we reached out to Zameer Qureshi, an international law expert with a penchant for cannabis legislation, and asked him to share his views.

The U.S. And The World

“I know that Germany is actively considering medical marijuana,” he voiced. “I am not 100 percent sure of where they are on that, but I read that they would legalize in 2017. So that is a distinct possibility— You have African states like Morocco who produced hashish for many years considering whether it is worth it. You have Portugal who — I believe — has decriminalized most drugs.”

“While I cannot comment on a global scale, in particularly in some of the Asian countries, I do think that the developments in the U.S. are going to have a profound impact on legislation in Europe,” the expert continued. “It remains to be seen how quickly that is going to happen, but given how closely Europe and the U.S. work in pretty much all respects, and given how much the cultural spin over is from the U.S. into Europe, and that some European states have already been very proactive — the Netherlands in particular many years ago, it indicates to me that we are going to see more thoughtful discussions in Europe.”

Medical And Recreational

Qureshi moved on to say he believes legalization of marijuana for medical use will likely come first. “It has been historical where people have used strong marijuana for recreational purposes they have been seen as bad characters, whereas the medical side, in my mind, is much easier to legislate,” he noted.

“Although personally in a lot of respects I do not see the need for delineation between medical and recreational as we move forward. I think it could just be regulated,” he supplemented.

The U.N. And Cannabis

Benzinga: There has been a lot of discussion recently about how the U.N. categorizes marijuana and the implications of federal legalization in Canada, and the U.S. eventually. Could you explain a bit how this works, taking into account that the U.S. still classifies cannabis as a narcotic?

Qureshi: The U.N. does still regard cannabis as a narcotic. The U.N. essentially is a gathering of key nations around the world and so, obviously, their opinion is very influential. Now, I think that as these U.N. meetings go on and more states legalize, there will be a potential to influence that U.N. stance on it.

It remains to be seen how that evolves. For example, if the U.S. was to de-schedule cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, and if measures were to be taken in Europe, that again would make a way for a discussion in U.N. meetings to potentially reevaluate what cannabis should be regarded as. At this stage, of course, we do not know where that is going yet. But it is just one of those things — wait and see.

Now, one thing that is important to remember, we may have these thoughtful discussions and there are challenging questions that come up, but it is the first time that we are able to discuss marijuana so openly and potential future legalization, so there are no precedents to go by. I mean, there was alcohol prohibition many years ago, but I do not think that is a good example for this discussion.

Posted In: CanadacannabisGermanymarijuanaMoroccoPortucalUNUnited NationsUSweedZameer QureshiEmerging MarketsPoliticsTopicsLegalGlobalMarketsInterviewGeneral