The island nation is a primary source of marijuana in the Caribbean. Possession remains illegal and can result in mandated treatment or rehabilitation, though usually the defendant pays a small fine and is not incarcerated. Nevertheless, many young men wind up with criminal records that affect their future employment options, and recent changes in the U.S. and Uruguay have given momentum to activists who hope to see marijuana decriminalization approved soon.
In Mexico, where tens of thousands have been killed in drug war violence in the past seven years, there is no general push to legalize or regulate marijuana for recreational use. But in more liberal Mexico City, a metropolis of 8 million, lawmakers have introduced a measure to allow stores to sell up to 5 grams of pot. The plan has the mayor’s support but could set up a fight with the federal government. Small amounts of marijuana and other drugs have been decriminalized in Mexico since 2009.
Morocco is one of the world’s leading hashish producers, and nearly all of it makes its way into Europe. Cannabis was legal to grow as late as the 1950s by order of the king. Two leading political parties want to re-legalize its cultivation for medical and industrial uses, with the goal of helping small farmers who survive on the crop but live at the mercy of drug lords and police attempts to eradicate it. There is little chance the conservative nation will legalize it for recreational use any time soon.
The Netherlands has long had some of the most liberal cannabis laws. Hoping to keep pot users away from dealers of harder drugs, the country in the late 1970s began allowing “coffee shops” to sell marijuana, which remains technically illegal. Since 2012 the federal government has clamped down, briefly requiring people to obtain a “weed pass” to buy cannabis and banning sales to tourists. Some cities, including Amsterdam, have declined to ban sales to tourists, however, and mayors of 35 cities have banded together to call for the legalization of marijuana growing.