The past 12 months have proved to be a boon for marijuana legalization advocates around the world, and the trend is only expected to continue in 2019.
Canada became the first industrialized nation, and the second country in the world after Uruguay, to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in October. In the United States, Michigan and Vermont joined eight other states and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., that had already legalized recreational cannabis, although it remains prohibited under federal law.
Top courts in South Africa and the country of Georgia also struck down prohibitions on cannabis, legalizing the plant for individual use. Similarly, Mexico’s supreme court ruled for the fifth time that prohibitions on pot are unconstitutional. When it comes to medicinal cannabis, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United Kingdom approved the use of the plant in 2018.
Other countries around the world are closely eyeing the decisions of these countries and exploring whether they should make similar adjustments to their narcotics laws. As legal Canadian and U.S. weed companies see soaring profits and investment, many governments are noting the plant’s lucrative potential. Here’s a look at some countries that may decide to follow suit and legalize in 2019.
In late November, the small European nation of Luxembourg announced that marijuana would soon be legalized for recreational use by adults. Politicians have said that weed will be commercially available for legal residents only, meaning tourists wouldn’t be allowed to purchase cannabis products. According to local media, the landlocked country is expected to become the first member of the European Union to make such a significant change in its narcotics laws.
During summer, French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said that the government would begin reviewing its drug laws in regards to marijuana, according to France 24. Under the current system, products containing two percent or less cannabis are legally allowed to be sold. However, some shops selling qualifying products have been shut down under other anti-narcotics laws. Philippe Coy, president of the Confederation of Tobacco Shops said in July that his association was pushing the government to allow their stores to sell marijuana to their customers.
While medical marijuana is already legal in Italy, many politicians are pushing for recreational legalization. The proposal has been making its way through the nation’s parliament, according to CTV News. However, it remains to be seen if it will be supported by lawmakers.
Nabih Berri, the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, told U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard in July that his government was planning to move ahead with legalizing the cultivation and production of cannabis for medicinal use. However, as the country has failed to form a new government seven months after its last election, such a move will necessarily have to wait until political infighting comes to an end.
Despite being legal recreationally in 10 states and medicinally in well over 30, cannabis remains completely prohibited by the U.S. federal government. But polls have shown that a significant majority of Americans support legalization, with bipartisan efforts moving forward in Congress to end prohibition. President Donald Trump has suggested that he would be supportive of measures to legalize the plant, and analysts have pointed to the passage of the Farm Bill, which legalized hemp cultivation, as a positive step toward possible marijuana legalization. With Democrats retaking control of the House of Representatives, it’s also likely that more and more weed bills will reach the floor for debate.