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Toughest Marijuana Laws Around the World


earth marijuanaAre The Marijuana Laws Harsh Where You Live?

By Sean Z

This is the nightmare situation. You’re taking a holiday in a country you’ve never visited before. In a bar, you get chatting to a few locals, and one of them candidly offers you some weed. Stoked at the opportunity to get high in a foreign country, you nod enthusiastically, find a safe spot and light up. As you make your way through the joint, enshrouded in a haze of giggles and contentment, you hear an iron voice from behind you, “Police! You’re coming with us.” You’re bombarded with stern voices speaking in foreign tongues about the threat of some extensive jail time, all for a little bit of marijuana.

We may bemoan the lumbering progress of the compelling and irrefutable argument for cannabis legalization in our own country, but we’re really pretty lucky. Some countries across the world have implausibly draconian laws, with places like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia executing people for trafficking in large amounts. Most of us aren’t interested in importing drugs into countries with monstrous laws, but we might fancy a joint if we’re on holiday somewhere. This article runs through some countries you might want to avoid if you’re off on a marijuana world tour or are looking to move permanently.

The Japanese public generally sees drug use as an admission of deep seated evil. The public get up in arms over people being caught with marijuana, so you are unlikely to be treated with any sympathy. Under the Cannabis Control Law in Japan, being caught with even a single joint can get you a five year prison sentence with some hard labor thrown in for good measure. They’ll be a little more lenient if it’s your first time, but you’ll still get around a six month sentence. Foreigners aren’t likely to be jailed, but will be deported from the country with no hope of ever going back.

In the Philippines, you don’t get much leeway either. The first time you’re caught smoking a joint you can be sent to rehab for at least six months. If you are persistent enough to try again, the next time could land you in jail for between six and twelve years. If you get caught growing weed, you’re looking at anything from life imprisonment to the death penalty. The Philippine Dangerous Drugs Act will make your life a living hell. One man was jailed for 15 years after being caught with two “sticks” (assumedly meaning joints) of marijuana.

Another country you would do well to avoid is Malaysia. Possession of cannabis can land you in jail for up to five years (Section 6), and carries a fine of up to 20,000 ringgit (around $6,500). If you are found with over 50 grams, the sentence is at least five years, plus a possible lashing of at least ten strikes (Section 39a). Planting a cannabis seed can get you life in prison plus at least six lashings (Section 6b). In 2010, a man was jailed for a total of eight years for being found with just less than 58 grams of cannabis. One charge was only based on 12.65 grams (less than a half ounce) and carried a sentence of two years. The worst case scenario, getting caught dealing a lot of cannabis, can lead to the death sentence.

If you’re journeying across Southeast Asia and fancy a stop in Bali, marijuana should definitely be off the menu. Getting caught with a single joint in Indonesia can lead to a jail sentence of up to four years. If you accidently or purposefully import any cannabis, you can be put in prison for between five and 15 years. One famous case involved an Australian named Schapelle Corby, who ended up with 20 years in jail, skipping off on a possible sentence of death by firing squad. This is probably the only time 20 years in an Indonesian jail could be considered “lucky.”

United Arab Emirates
Possibly the most extreme laws come in the United Arab Emirates. Getting caught in Dubai with even the tiniest trace of cannabis can get you a minimum mandatory sentence of four years. In some extreme circumstances, if you’re caught with any in your blood or urine, this can be considered “possession.” It’s worth noting that these absurd laws even extend to things like poppy seeds (the kind you might be covered in if you eat seeded bread on your flight). One man has been jailed for four years because he was found at the airport with a cigarette trodden into his shoe. Inside, the authorities found 0.003 grams of cannabis, and that was enough. Unless he’d come up with a bizarre way to carry his last, tiny joint, it’s safe to assume this wasn’t even his. In the UAE, it clearly doesn’t matter.

Unless you want to end up in some dingy, mortifying prison for an extended sentence, don’t smoke marijuana in these countries. That one joint you’re being offered in a dingy bar can cost you several years of relatively safe smoking time at home. For once, the best advice is to just say no. However, the real tragedy is for the natives: they never even have a chance to enjoy marijuana without taking an extreme risk. The next time you smoke a joint, toast to the people of Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, and hope that one day their absurd marijuana laws are repealed.

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  1. messed up. Its illegal in Norway as well. But our maximum prison penalty is 21 years. And thet is for the worst murderers!!!!

  2. I will continue to live in the great state of Jefferson (the southwest corner of Oregon stretching down into Mendocino county in Cali) pot is a living for us country folks.

  3. Hi, I’m traveling to Indonesia tomorrow. I’m staying in Leigan. Can you sort me out with someone to grab a bit of the local stuff..

  4. I live in the Philippines and with the current President reinforcing our Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, there is no way it will be repealed. Marijuana may have hopes to be a regulated drug but it will be just about it like that’s it. Most Filipinos frown upon the use even of marijuana and am not even a user myself but marijuana medication is in need these days.

  5. So , guess i’ll stay here in the great state of Washington USA ! Eat your hearts out sucka’s !

  6. Im from indonesia. And I used to smoke pretty regularly.. nowadays, they only have synthetic weed so I choose not to. But from my experience, the law officers here are not really familiar with marijuana. Most dont know the smell, as long as you dont openly smoke in a public place it’ll be alright, cause the police doesnt really have a motive to arrest potheads anyway.. We are the most corrupted country in the world, so the cops dont give a fuck unless you smuggle and/or deal weed. I used to buy ounces of weed from my friend’s satpam! (satpam are security guards that usually keep watch around residential areas) So as long as you know someone you trust who knows how to get some, its all good.. And if u do, prepare for some brown-shit colored indicas, pretty good but dont compare it with og kush tho

  7. chris coffey on

    it is now legal in DC. cant buy it but can grow and can have it gifted to you and give it a way and smoke it. just not buy or sale. hell some grow supply stores in DC will give you seeds or small starter plants

  8. chris coffey on

    i was thinking the same. I am in the us dirt weed is 5 USD a gram compressed to hell $10 a gram is good bud but for dank $20 + have seen $45 a gram will not pay that but have seen it.

  9. saynotohypocrisy on

    Russia, of all places, worried more about cannabis than booze. What a farce this is.

  10. Pranicfrequency on

    Im from malaysia, i buy weed all the time n smoke it regularly, yes the laws r very strict n they r draconian, but if u keep it on the down low its pretty safe. Just dont get into dealing or smuggling weed, have a reliable dealer n use it personally, n of course keep it safe. It is a flawed article if u only focus on the laws of the country n a few cases of extremely unlucky people who got caught for personal use due to their stupidity or a few people who just asked for it coz off greed and stupidity. Der r countless stoners in every part of the world and weed is found in all corners of the globe, some easier than others. Just be smart, dont fall into scams, dont be stupid, dont be greedy.

  11. lol and you even complain about that? Weed in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria costs up to 15-20 EUR a gram. (about 20-25 USD)

  12. Iran it’s legal to grow for oil and eating the seeds, but smoke or deal it watch out

  13. Where’s Iran? you can get multiple sever lashes even for a few grams, they can grow it legally

  14. especially China as well, china even had a fairly lengthy history of legal opiate use

  15. I don’t see nothing wrong in smoking marijuana though. But if it’s illegal than I’m going to obey the law and encourage others to obey the law as well. There are many times I am approached asking if I want to smoke or buy marijuana and I always refuse and tell the person that their taking a huge gamble with their freedom and future. The Philippines is nothing to mess with when it comes to the Dangerous Drug Act. It’s extremely harsh and unforgiving but the Philippines is highly centered on the health of family and morals.

  16. There is a Death Penalty in the Philippines. You still get sentenced to death. When a president takes office that is pro death penalty the killing will start again. Same with the gun laws here. When there is a president who is pro gun than people can buy guns, when there is a president who is anti gun then you can’t buy a gun.

  17. Vietnam is cool, it views the herb as actually what it is, a plant, it must be really hard for these other countries to make nature illegal, because they themselves set such a fine example of morals.

  18. Really interesting.
    Given their societies I can at least understand why the UAE and Malaysia have strict weed laws.
    But Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines makes no sense to me.
    Those are the very people who SHOULD be getting high.

  19. you forgot to mention Russia, doubt someone would like to go to that shithoe(say it as a native), but the drug law is extremely rough. you’re can get 5 years just for a couple of gramms of weed. give someone a puff of your joint is considered as a distribution, and the law is very extreme for that.

  20. Are you sure you talk about Turkey bro. Me and many of my friends have been smoking everyday. Never found it hard to find weed. Have been arrested once while smoking and they let me go with some warnings. I get caught again after two weeks tho :D with almost 75grams. Now they just want me to go and pee for them. Maybe you live in a long place. Kurdish weed is good , too much seed tho. But if you are talking about istanbul , yeah it can be right. So maybe you should just leave the country instead of asking people to bomb here. Or ask people to bomb the government which is the only problem of my lovely country.. Bye!!

  21. That shit will turn into dragonball z if they smoked over there! More Asians meditating and using chi for everything!

  22. In my country mauritius you are jailed for possession consumption dealing planting even having seeds..
    Its so fucked overhere im a stoner but must be really careful so that those motherfuking cops dnt catch you..
    They have eyes everywhere overhere man..
    So much shit..

  23. Turkish friend of mine came to USA for an education & never went back
    get out anyway you can

  24. Luka Popovic on

    Same here in my country. Serbia. Smoking trash weed for a high price.
    100euros- 50 grams of bullshit. (like your, mostly seeds stems, and very low quaility ganja).And police everywhere, this is fucking hell!. I guess its same as yours, since we import from Albania and so are you maybe.

  25. Asians… Could you imagine if they smoked over there? It would be bedlam! All those conscious broke ass smelly Kung fu experts rioting n shit!

  26. Sure. Its technically legal therE. But they don’t allow their citizens any freedom. They don’t expect anyone to be able to get marijuana, so why make a law against it? In a slave state like North Korea they’ll kill you for anything and make up an excuse after the fact. Their laws don’t really mean shiT.

  27. ShowmeStats on

    A few states are, but the federal government sees Prohibition as a jobs program for government unions, which it is. And those unions exercise their conflict of interests, I mean rights, to make sure politicisns don’t forget that marijuana is more lethal than cyanide!!!

    Before the 2008 election, you could have put Obama’s face in a rolling-paper ad, but as soon as he was elected, he outdid Bush in persecution. He did everything he could right up until several blue states legalized it, and then the jig was up.

    But don’t think Washington has given up. They’re just mending their shields and sharpening their spears, and they’ll be back with twice as many thugs before long.

  28. In the Northern Philipenes there is no death penalty (visayas, Luzon) the south is Islamic and I’m guessing that is were the death penalty would be from (Mindinao).

  29. In Turkey where I live they have been working towards eradicating stoners and dealers for the last couple years Instead of moving towards decriminilizing it like most countries are now since its been proven to work. Recently they made a rule that the police can pretty much do anything to you without any real cause. Strip you naked or come in your house. Anything goes. There is no one to complain to when the police is abusing you with the governments help. They have been given complete control. A huge abuse of power. On top of that any amount of weed found on you equals jail time now. 0.0001g? Doesn’t matter. Most dealers are now caught because the police has came down on them, hard. Most dealers i knew are completely missing. Needless to say prices have sky rocketed and even if you have the money most dealers are caught or they left before anything happend so no weed to buy. This dumb country is the only country in the world going backwards and not forwards. I hate that I was born here, the ignorance of the people here baffle me. Im just dying for a nice 7 euro a gr sativa but i might get it if im lucky for 70 euros. And most of the time you cant even find that. You might have to settle for terrible kurdish weed that goes for 80 euros or 130 tl for 11 gr but trust me, 1 gr of super silver haze will last longer. That kurdish shit doesnt even get you high and ots mostly just seeds and stems. Please someone bomb this country, we really suck over here.

  30. This is likely all because the good ol USA made a point that they would not do business with or give aid to any country that did not join us in our war against drugs. Sure, some may have taken it to the next level but we started it. Us.

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  32. Happysugarkush on

    Living as an international student in Malaysia for five years, life and smoking has generally been pretty easy for me. Many of my friends have dabbled in dealing whilst being cautious of course. The laws are there but you have to remember that the police are corrupt and often are themselves culprits of heavy drug use. We have security guards here who take crystal to stay awake during their night shifts, police officers who set up road blocks to get an extra buck and who usually are high themselves. It is important to have a look through the laws and your rights when visiting Malaysia. Helpful tip: Paying your way out of it works 80% of the time, judging by the mannerisms of the officer you’re dealing with. As a tourist, depending on the crowd you happen to meet in Kuala Lumpur or on an island, its helpful to know that people there are generally nice and want you to enjoy the bounties of the country (locals & foreigners). Do practice caution as to where you smoke. Wishing you all brilliant high-times ahead :)

  33. Im trying to find out what happened to my husband he was supposed to leave yesterday on a military transport but I found out he may have got caught w weed. How do I find out?

  34. dude i completely agree with you. i’m also from the philippines, antipolo city, and i too smoke weed and i really fucking hate how the government created this idealism where marijuana is considered a dangerous drug. they’ve made it based solely on their image of what cannabis is, even people who i know who knows i smoke weed but they don’t, think i’m an addict already even though i can last a more than 5 months without it. though, i am more annoyed by the ignorance of some of our fellowmen about the topic of cannabis. they should do their research first. i would respect you if you don’t smoke weed but please, don’t assume us to be addicts/delinquents just because we do.

  35. dude, you’re high.
    Pearl Harbor, all of Japans neighbors and the entire Western World

  36. Okay so im from the philippines (manila the capital) I study medicine in college, have a stable job and i smoke a ton of weed, and i can say 1st hand that the law on weed here is pure shit. i hate it so much. people here make such a big deal out of cannabis, when you get caught smoking it, you basically turn into a dilinquent and a danger to society in people’s eyes. and when you get caught by the law, they make such a big fucking fuss out of it. thank goodness they’re corrupt and you can just pay them off (i had bad experiences). marijuana is so evil here, and yet the people here drink alcohol so much they can rival the irish. dafuq with this shit

  37. Getting caught smoking marijuana is perhaps the least of your worries in the majority of the countries you mention.
    Apart from Japan I have no interest in ever visiting those countries and thank God everyday that I wasn’t born in any of them.

  38. Japan kept the laws and enforces them because they want to. America, or any other country, doesn’t have control over internal matters like that.
    Hemp is grown in Asia, but smoking it as an intoxicant is a western thing. Only foreigners in China smoke it.

  39. These laws obviously have public and government support. The Japanese laws on cannabis originate from the U.S. post war occupation. But they currently reflect Japan’s attitude about getting stoned. The laws wouldn’t be applied if there wasn’t support for it. Possession of over 1oz in Oregon carries 10 years on paper. But in actuality no one gets a long prison sentence just for pot there, because it’s not considered a very big deal.

  40. Nazreen Abraham (not afraid) on

    I live in Malaysia and I plant Marijuana and smoke it too. I am proud of it and not afraid of these laws that we have adopted from our ex-colonizers. Malaysians smokes more weed than we drink alcohol but we dont know why we have such law against cannabis, we just follow what the British told us to do.

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  42. North Korea is one of the smartest countries in the world. Sale, distribution, and consumption of Cannabis is not regulated by the government. It’s not even classified as a drug!

  43. chingchongweed on

    no one gives a shit about your weed addiction in the philippines mister. we dont need that shit. “Philippine Dangerous Drugs Act will make your life a living hell.” your high when you wrote this right ? lol this is a weed website..

  44. Jono is a Retard on

    Clearly posting without reading the article first. The author wrote “One man was jailed for 15 years after being caught with two “sticks” (assumedly meaning joints) of marijuana” and Marley King was just clarifying what sticks were as they are not joints. If you’re going to troll, at least stick to the facts.

  45. You’re far more inclined to follow someone’s order’s after they killed 200,000 of your people by pressing a button the LAST time you tried to defy them.

    Just consider that for a second.

  46. really? this is such a shock to find all this out…I never knew! I bet none of the other avid pot smokers on this blog about fucking MARIJUANA could figure out what “stick” meant either!

  47. no its JAPANS fault that JAPAN has these laws. JAPAN is not ran by the U.S. legislative branch. JAPAN can only follow our suggestions. JAPAN has no obligation to follow our rules or doctrines. Whoever wrote this article it would not surprise me if it was some pot smoking kid going to college on his mama’s money.

  48. What’s the biggest nightmare than getting caught up abroad for cases like intoxication, it’s surely the worst thing that can happen to you in an unknown nation, and if you have no relatives out-there, you are surely on a great trouble.. It’s a must to know the laws, if you are fond of weeds and all. 

  49. Just to clarify the term “stick”… it is also called a foil, and is basically a very small street deal, because it is usually wrapped up in foil, anywhere between the size of a cigarette to a bit bigger, and is also called a stick because the rolled up nature of it makes it stiffer, unlike a bagged deal. Imagine a 3 paper joint made from aluminium foil, and you will get a visual… HTH … :)

  50. Dark_templer on

    It’s sad about Japan cause its America’s fault they have such bad laws, before America bombed Japan they were quite free and cannabis grew in the wild many places across Japan, it was used alot by monks and such.. But after America came in an rewrote Japan’s laws all that changed(another thing we can thank the Americans for its that fuzzy blur of japanese porn, that’s another of the laws America gave to Japan after the war)

  51. eating_sunshine on

    Oh the stories I could tell from when I lived in the PI (Philippine Islands).
    I hardly believe my memories of that strange and wonderful time.

    But, you are so correct.  Being caught in the PI with weed, while being a foreigner  and without bribe money could cost you your life.  But I can tell you that many a time as I was walking down the road, I caught the unmistakable smell of ganga. I’ve partied hard in the Go-go bar capital of the PI, Angeles city, and I asked a few bar girls if they could score me some weed, and every one of them said they could.  But I never chanced it. 

    English is widely spoken in the PI.  The police are very corrupt as a social norm. Its the only Asian country that is Christian. Alcohol is very much the social drug of choice.  And don’t leave home without bribe money.  

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