The United States is far behind some countries around the world in regards to drug policy reform. Americans consume 75% of the world’s prescription drugs, regardless of possessing a prescription. In other parts of the world, embracing drug policy reform has reduced crime and increased the general acceptance of marijuana.
These three countries currently have the best marijuana regulations in the world:
In 2001, Portugal became the first European country to decriminalize all drugs. Since decriminalization, there have been 8,000 less arrests per year for drug violations. Officials are focusing more on treating serious drug addictions with treatment programs rather than jailing offenders.
Portugal’s level of drug consumption is now among the lowest in the European Union. Before the law, over 50-percent of Portugal’s HIV-infected residents were drug addicts. Each year brought 3,000 new diagnoses of HIV among addicts. But, today, addicts consist of only 20-percent of HIV-infected patients.
Switzerland decriminalized marijuana in 2013. Anyone over the age of 18 in possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana will not face prosecution. The offense does not appear on permanent records. The fine associated with criminal possession is 100 Swiss Francs, about $103 USD.
The Swiss government has reiterated that decriminalization does not mean legal. What it means is that Swiss law enforcement officials have more serious crimes to take care of instead of spending countless hours processing 30,000+ minor marijuana offenses annually.
Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is the world’s leading marijuana destination. People can walk on open streets with up to 5 grams of marijuana in the Netherlands. Laws do exist around producing and distributing without proper licensing, but little is done to enforce those laws.
In some Netherlands cities, like Amsterdam, tourists can use marijuana openly at approved “coffee shops.” Cities can determine their own regulations for tourist marijuana use.
These countries have set the precedent for the rest of the world in terms of decriminalizing drugs. With these countries reporting decreased crime rates and addiction, it may be a driving force for other countries to follow suit. Two other countries with amended marijuana laws include Czech Republic and Uruguay.