If you thought our weed laws were strict, think again. Though North America is far from perfect when it comes to marijuana policy, by comparison, much of the world is medieval when it comes to drug enforcement. We’ve listed the countries with the strictest weed laws so you know the punishments for everything. From taking to a toke to running a cannabis empire.
1. United Arab Emirates
Drug possession is no joke in the United Arab Emirates. Even carrying residual amounts of any drug, including marijuana, can land you four years in prison, which is the minimum jail sentence.
If you’re caught trafficking drugs in the United Arab Emirates, you’re looking at the death penalty. And yes, having detectable levels of any drug in your bloodstream counts as drug possession.
Make sure you’re aware of customs and laws before traveling to the Emirates, one of the countries with the strictest weed laws.
Luckily, most people traveling to the Emirates aren’t going for marijuana tourism. Most often, this country’s strict drug laws become a problem for people passing through the airport.
Airport security is intense, high-tech and geared towards detecting trace amounts of marijuana. Authorities often pull travelers aside for random drug testing, so better to be safe than sorry.
Indonesia has over 7,000 km of coastline, which makes it almost impossible to stop smugglers from importing heroin, ecstasy, and amphetamines. This does not mean, however, that their drug laws are lax.
Indonesian law divides drugs into three groups, the first comprising most recreational drugs. Unfortunately, marijuana and hashish are lumped into the same category as cocaine, meth, and heroin.
Sentences for possession of these drugs range from four to twelve years in prison. And fines are tens of thousands of US dollars.
If you have over 1kg of marijuana or over 5 grams of cocaine or heroin, you typically receive life imprisonment. Jail time for trafficking any of these substances ranges from 5 to 15 years in prison. The Indonesian Anti-Narcotics Agency can sentence you to death if you traffic more than the above-described quantities.
Though the United States Embassy will help you out if you’re arrested, know that Indonesia has a complicated history when it comes to foreigners and drugs.
In 2005, the Indonesian court sentenced nine foreigners of various origins, known as the Bali Nine, to life in prison and death after they attempted to smuggle 18 lbs of heroin to Australia.
Perhaps a more unexpected country on this list, Japan has some pretty unflinching drug laws. Not only is Japanese weed the most expensive in the world at $58.30 a gram, Japan also has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to marijuana. Japanese drug users can expect up to 5 years jail time for a first offense.
Laws are much stricter for foreigners in Japan. According to the U.S. State Department, you should expect long jail sentences, significant fines, and solitary confinement.
Not only does Japanese law severely punish drug users, but Japanese Immigration will turn you away if you have prior drug convictions. Just ask Paris Hilton.
It might be surprising to find France on this list considering its neighbor to the North, but France is unusually tough on marijuana smokers.
According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, “the law itself does not distinguish between possession for personal use or trafficking, or by type of substance.”
This means that French authorities impose jail time for a variety of drug possession offenses. Even a small amount of marijuana could get you in trouble.
Jail sentences are not nearly as long in France as in some other countries on this list of the countries with the strictest weed laws.
A small amount of drugs could land you up to a year in jail, or a thousand euro fine. Larger drug possession charges range from ten years to life.
Notorious for banning gum, Singapore isn’t a surprise guest on this list of the countries with the strictest weed laws. Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act, which classifies drugs into three categories, is punitive by most standards.
The court assumes that you are trafficking weed if you possess more than one ounce. This is less than the 100 gram threshold for opium. This act also presumes that if the police find drugs at your house, then the drugs are yours.
Not only are the standards for trafficking and possession severe in Singapore, but the country has a mandatory death penalty. For marijuana, you will receive the mandatory death penalty for 500 grams.
Punishments for less than this amount are also cruel and severe: prison sentences range from 10 years to life, and caning is another commonly used punishment.
Additionally, Singaporean police can drug test you at any moment without warning. Tony Tan, convicted of drug charges, says of Singapore’s drug laws, “Consumption just means that your urine has tested positive.”
An increasingly conservative country, Turkey has relatively strict laws when it comes to drug use. Possession or sale of any illegal drug—notably heroin, cocaine, and marijuana—receives a 4 to 24 year prison sentence.
You will receive a minimum prison sentence of 10 years for selling marijuana, and 15 years for selling to a minor.
With strict norms regarding women’s clothing and homosexuality, it’s no surprise that Turkish authorities are no fan of the ganj.
Unfortunately, as the rule of law declines in Turkey, this nation may earn a more permanent place as on the list of countries with the strictest weed laws.
7. Saudi Arabia
It isn’t shocking that Saudi Arabia, a nation without bars or liquor stores, is one of the countries with the strictest weed laws.
Authorities punish drug use with long jail sentences, deportation, and public floggings. Even more frighteningly, punishments for drug use are not fixed.
Furthermore, a type of Islamic law called Tazir mandates that a judge decides punishments on a case by case basis, which means that sentences are often harsher than you would expect.
The punishment for drug trafficking is always death, either by hanging, beheading (the most common form of execution), or firing squad.
47% of executions in Saudi Arabia were drug offenses as of 2015. Exceptions are not made for foreigners. They made up 48% of those sentenced to death between 1985 and 2015 according to Amnesty International.
All this does not apply to Saudi Arabian aristocracy. In 2015, Lebanese authorities caught Prince Abdel Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdulaziz with over 4,000 lbs of cocaine and amphetamines.
While most Saudis and travelers suffer the consequences of draconian laws, Saudi royalty parties without consequence.
The Final Hit: The Countries With The Strictest Weed Laws
There is nothing better than a cannabis-themed vacation, but make sure to check local laws and customs before you light one up. The countries with the strictest weed laws make no exceptions for foreigners.
Often, they do the opposite and make examples out of visitors. Don’t forget that most governments and interest groups don’t want you to have access to mind-opening marijuana. And they will punish you for it
Courtesy of High Times