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5 Countries With Tough Marijuana Laws

If you have plans to travel, know what to expect.

This story originally appeared on The Fresh Toast

Perspectives regarding cannabis are changing on a yearly basis, with new countries legalizing or decriminalizing the plant. Large regions of North America, South America, Africa, Australia, and Europe have decriminalized or allowed for the recreational or medical use of marijuana.

While much progress has been done, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Many countries remain distrustful of marijuana and can punish people with jail for simple things, like possession.

Whether you’re planning a trip there or are simply curious about other countries’ stance on cannabis, here are 5 countries with tough marijuana laws.

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It’s still illegal to possess cannabis in Japan. Use and possession are penalized by up to 5 years in prison and a fine. When it comes to the plant’s cultivation, sale, and transportation, the offense is punishable by 7 to 10 years. While CBD is permitted, Japan’s strict cannabis laws prevent advocates from banding together and finding solutions that may legalize or decriminalize the drug in the future.


Turkey has a strict drug policy where almost all drugs are considered illegal. Enabling the sale of drugs, selling them, or using them for personal use are all considered acts of crimes and can be punished in jail for 2 to 5 years.

El Salvador

Recreational and medical marijuana is illegal in El Salvador, mainly due to the fact that it’s one of the most conservative countries in South America. The country also has a charged history with drug trafficking, which can taint the perspectives of local people. While there have been several decriminalization initiatives in the past, the support for cannabis reform remains very low.

Saudi Arabia

While Saudi Arabia is more lenient with visitors, the country is still pretty strict with its drug policies. In the country, drug offenses are considered an offense to God. Cannabis use and distribution could result in imprisonment from a couple of months up to 10 years depending on the level of offense and whether or not it’s the person’s first time getting caught.

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The Philippines have cannabis listed as a dangerous drug. That means that consuming, growing, selling or simply having it may result in prison and a fine. The law is explicit about banning all forms of cannabis, making the Philippines one of the toughest countries when it comes to cannabis laws.