When it comes to cannabis policies around the world, there is a huge spectrum of different models. On one end of the spectrum, you have Canada and Uruguay, where cannabis is legal for adult use. Residents in those countries enjoy the most liberal cannabis laws on earth, and in the case of Canada, those freedoms and benefits extend to tourists as well.
Unfortunately, that is in stark contrast to the other side of the spectrum. As shocking as it may sound in 2021, there are still a handful of countries that punish people caught with cannabis with very harsh penalties, including the death penalty.
Obviously, no responsible person should ever be punished for possessing, consuming, and/or cultivating a plant that is safer than alcohol. However, that is still the case in many parts of the world, and in at least two countries, recent sentences are serving as a grim reminder that the harms of cannabis prohibition still endure.
Horrific Sentences In Singapore And Dubai
In February 2021, a man named Omar Yacob Bamadhaj went on trial in Singapore after it was alleged that he was caught possessing two pounds of cannabis flower back in 2018. Unfortunately, Mr. Bamadhaj was found guilty, and he received the ultimate penalty – death by hanging.
Omar Yacob Bamadhaj appealed the sentence, and this month the appeal was denied. Human rights groups have called for less harsh punishment. However, those calls have proven to be unsuccessful so far.
Another man, Billy Hood, was arrested earlier this year in Dubai on suspicion of possessing four bottles of CBD-infused vape liquid. Despite CBD being legal almost everywhere on planet earth these days, it is still illegal in Dubai.
Mr. Hood tried fighting the charges in court. However, he lost his case and received a 25-year prison sentence. Members of a campaign group called ‘Detained In Dubai’ are calling for the government to intervene and reverse the overly harsh sentence. Unfortunately, it’s unclear if there are any plans by the government to consider the demand.
Keep Fighting For Reform
Momentum for cannabis reform is greater now than at any other time since prohibition first took effect so many decades ago. Reform victories are racking up all over the globe, and every one of those victories should be celebrated.
With that being said, there’s still a lot of work to do, and the recent sentences in Singapore and Dubai are reminders of that. It is vital that cannabis activists across the globe keep pushing for reform worldwide until prohibition is ended everywhere.
We cannot simply work for cannabis reform where we live, and once it is achieved, take our feet off of the pedal. If/when cannabis laws are reformed in a favorable way where you live, keep your efforts going to help people in other jurisdictions. People’s lives depend on it!
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Barcelona (March 10th), Berlin (July 19-20th), and Zurich (September 8-9).