The 2016 Global Marijuana Legalization Wave That Has Swept Countries

The 2016 Global Marijuana Legalization Wave

The legality of the use of cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes has for a long time been a hot debate in many countries. However, nations and states seem to have noted something significant with this drug that remains the world’s most widely cultivated and consumed drug. Though the laws vary across the world, there seems to have been a wave that has seen more than 20 countries soften their tough laws regarding the use of Marijuana. In the US alone, medical/recreational Marijuana is now legal in more than half of its states.

Indeed, the global trend of legalizing Cannabis had great momentum and was unstoppable in 2016. The process kicked off a few years ago and seemed to have borne fruits as evidenced by the growing list of countries that are drafting laws and regulations to govern the use of this most produced and trafficked drug in the world. Even the states and nations that had firm laws all along regarding its use are now trialing laws intended to give the drug a new place and picture.

Earlier this month, the skeptics of the legalization of cannabis had started expressing their surprise on what the recent studies had found regarding the popularity of this drug. Many thought that it use especially among the teenagers wouldn’t be influenced by the legalization. Contrary to this, the enactment of laws about it, indeed, changed the attitude of many. “…legalization…reduced stigma and the perceived risk of use…which could explain the why…adolescents are using more…” said Magdalena Cerda of the University of California. All these and other studies have shown that, indeed, 2016 was Marijuana’s year.

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Canada, Germany, Australia, Ireland and Jamaica approved measures to regulate the medical use of cannabis all in 2016. Australia now grants permission to businesses to get licensing for either cultivating or manufacturing Marijuana products for medical purposes. Besides that, it also allows research on this drug provided it’s related to recreation and the field of medicine. In South Africa, there are efforts also to join the growing list of countries that recognize the drug as of value medically. Decisions are, however, still pending on this debate. These are, however, not the only countries as others too have pending legislation that will no doubt see things change regarding the use of this drug.

As the world continues to welcome this giant drug, researchers argue that there’s need to carry out more surveys and research to help inform the policy makers. “ We need…data to inform the policies…happening” Said Ryan Vandrey of Johns Hopkins University in the US. He has no stance whether the move by countries to legalize Marijuana is good or bad but wishes that the process be done carefully and after carrying out sufficient research to help inform the policy making in many states in the US especially those in the process of drafting laws to govern the use of the drug. He wishes that the approval of new therapy be backed by relevant data.

When it comes drug reform policies or laws, Portugal comes in as the pioneer in this area. It did not decriminalize the possession of cannabis alone but all drugs for personal use back in the year 2001. It thus has the greatest evidence when it comes to the impact of such moves on policy. Having trailed the reforms for more than a decade now, this great nation argues that there’s need to draw a clear line between the use of cannabis for recreation and for medicinal purposes to avoid possible confusion that might cause serious problems. So will other countries take this idea into consideration or will just accept to be swept by the global wave of marijuana legalization? Well, time will tell.

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According to Castel-BrancoGoulão, the director-general of the General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies in Lisbon, “people confuse recreational and medicinal use” He further argues that approval of laws legalizing cannabis for use for medicinal purposes is okay due to the strong benefits of the drug when used for alleviation of chronic pain, anxiety, vomiting, nausea and muscle spasms. All these and other facts about the drug are the points he insists should be taken into consideration when it comes to this hot topic. That’s why many experiments are now being carried out in various parts of the world to put things clear regarding the medical and recreational use of the much-debated cannabis.

The wave is now strong, sweeping across many countries including even those we thought would never be affected. The Wheels are now in motion across the world, and it’s just a matter of time before we see what other countries are going to do. It will no doubt be very interesting to see what’s going to happen as we usher in the new year of 2017.

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