WHEN NOT CRUISING IN THE ASTRAL PLANE from the comfort of your living room, I am sure many of you have had the hankering for physical travel at some point. Alas, not all countries are as kind and understanding on the marijuana front as the good ol’ US of A and Canada, as sobering as that truth may seem. Yes readers, some countries will not tolerate one iota of your western decadence. Luckily, you have me to help you navigate through the swamp with these ten countries you should avoid at all costs if you (like me) have visions of honeybud dancing through your head most hours of the day.
Though touted as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan has nothing but darkness for the smoker. Possession for any amount, even as little as 0.1 grams, is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a hefty fine that ranges up into the hundred-thousands! The culture at large doesn’t think much of pot, seeing it as detrimental to the progress of society. So, if you go, please do yourself a favor and let the slothful-yet-creative energy come from the heart and not from the blunt.
Ahh, Bulgaria. A country I am sure is on the forefront of my readers’ minds. Good thing for you, my job is to lead you into the light of knowledge, but what terrible knowledge do I bring? Bulgaria is remarkably strict on the subject of cannabis consumption. Marijuana is considered a class A (high risk) drug alongside Amphetamine, Cocaine and Heroin. In good company, right? The penalty for simple possession ranges from 1 to 6 years in prison and a hefty multi-thousand dollar fine. Looks like my 15-stop ‘Comedy on the Danube’ tour will have to be put on hiatus for the time being.
Hong Kong is especially merciless when it comes to anything related to our lady love Mary Jane. Possession of any amount is punishable with a huge fine and imprisonment for up to 15 years. Phooey indeed.
Saudi Arabia may SOUND like an excellent vacation spot, but the drug laws there might give you pause. Possession of any amount is punishable by at least 6 months of jail time. Saudi Arabia also has the dubious distinction of executing especially egregious offenders. If you’re traveling here and your last name isn’t ‘Bush,’ make sure your neck is screwed on good and tight!
Singapore is shockingly atavistic in its treatment of marijuana users. Mere possession will net you a $20,000 fine as well as up to 15 years in prison. God help you if you slang, as the death penalty is your reward for such an activity. Imagine the furious retribution for exchanging a healthful Singapore Sling for a gram of slung marijuana—Shudder the thought gentle readers, and while here, stick with the motor oil!
Surprisingly enough, the penalty for possession in Taiwan is harsher than in China proper. Possession of any amount can lead to up to three years of imprisonment. But fear not my heavy-lidded hombres, there is plenty of cigarettes and cheap scotch to dull the pain.
Cyprus has a zero-tolerance policy toward marijuana. Mere possession can result in a maximum of 8 years imprisonment. Using the substance carries a much weightier penalty, with life imprisonment as the maximum sentence. What with the tension between the Greek and Turkish sides of the island, it would behoove my dear readers to avoid this trap if you’re looking to herbalize.
10 to 15 years behind bars may be your reward if you spark up in Indonesia. It’s surprising to see all of these island nations with such a brutal drug policy. You would think island living would leave you more relaxed. Indonesia is a hodge-podge of many different cultures and ethnicities, cannabis culture excluded.
Have you heard the good news? The Philippines no longer administers capital punishment to individuals carrying weight, the penalty was reduced to the slap of the wrist of life imprisonment. The bad news: even the possession of small amounts can net you 12 years behind bars.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The highest you’ll get here is on the skyscraper tennis courts. UAE is especially harsh and will nail your ass to the floor with a mandatory minimum 4-year sentence for any amount. Even trace amounts can lead to an arrest if you should be so unlucky. Now, there are plenty of countries with draconian laws, but this country takes the cake with its inflexible stance and ridiculous prosecutions. A little bit stuck to your shoe could mean a life of bondage.
SO there’s the 10 to avoid, ladies and gentlemen, but which is our illustrious winner? *drum roll*
Though some countries execute marijuana enthusiasts, though some cane and scorch our friends and compatriots, the standout country, with the most draconian set of marijuana drug laws, and the winner of the first annual Rock of Shame is…
The United Arab Emirates!
The fervor with which the UAE pursues Lady Jane, and the fact that its constitution is only 40 years young, earns the UAE the recognition it so very much deserves. Smile today, UAE, bloodshot eyes all over the world avert their gaze from your steely resolve.
SKUNK faithful, heed my words: Do your research if you plan on bringing green with you into the wild blue yonder of your travel plans. There are many countries with aggressive drug policies beyond the ten I’ve listed.