CANADA has become the second country to legalise the drug cannabis and now the debate on whether it should be declassified has taken over the UK.
In Britain, it is illegal to possess it because it is classified as a Class B drug.
If found in possession with the drug you face a five-year prison sentence, while those dealing it can be punished with a 14-year prison sentence or an unlimited fine.
The government gave police powers in 2008 to issue a warning or an on-the-spot fine of £90 to someone found with cannabis.
However, conviction rates for cannabis possession are still low; in 2016, just 292 out of 16,101 convictions were imprisoned.
Following the case of Billy Caldwell, who was initially denied medical cannabis oil treatment for his epilepsy, the Home Secretary Sajid Javid said it is ‘time to review’ Britain’s laws on cannabis for medicinal purposes.
And he suggested that it could be reclassified from a Class B drug, but decriminalisation still does not mean it would be legally allowed to be consumed for pleasure.
So where is cannabis completely legal to use?
Canada is not the first country to legalise the drug.
In 2013, Uruguay legalised it in a bid to cut crime.
Spain and Portugal have a liberal attitude to its use, too.
In Spain, it has been legal since the 1990s to use cannabis in private places and cultivate plants for personal use. The country also has cannabis clubs, although it remains illegal to sell it for commercial purposes.
Portugal followed Spain in 2001 but went one step further and decriminalised possession of any drug, including heroin and cocaine, so long as the amount does not exceed a ten-day personal supply.
In 2012 Switzerland introduced a fine of 100 Swiss francs if you were found to have the drug on you, but the federal court last year ruled that the law was wrong, so as a consequence police have stopped prosecuting people for keeping a personal possession of the drug.
It’s also legal in the Solomon Islands, and last year Norway announced cannabis would be decriminalised for personal use.
It’s not legal everywhere in the Netherlands, but you are allowed to smoke it in coffee shops there.
The government decriminalised up to five grams for public use.
Where is it allowed but only for medicinal purposes?
France’s laws on cannabis are as strict as the UK’s. In 2013 they ruled in favour for limited prescriptions for medical cannabis derivatives but only when no other medications have been shown to work.
Australia, Argentina, Austria, Belgium,Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Puerto Rico, Romania, San Marino, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka,Turkey, Uruguay, Zambia and Zimbabwe say it is legal for medicinal purposes in some form.
What is the law in the USA?
There’s been over $1 trillion (£757,845,000,000) spent on curbing drugs since 1969, when the then-US president, Richard Nixon, formally announced a ‘war on drugs’.
With all the money spent some US states are relaxing their cannabis laws.
In 1996 California was the first state to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes.
And another 29 states have followed suit including Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
This year, eight US states relaxed drug laws to allow marijuana to be legal for recreational use as well as medicinal. These are Maine, Massachusetts, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Alaska.