4

I thought marijuana was legal in some Arab countries, but Wikipedia's front page reported that Uruguay was the first country to legalize it. They qualify as authority to me - at least, they take care not to put plainly wrong information on the front page.

Wikipedia's reference for this factoid is the following article from Reuters.

Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade

(Reuters) - Uruguay became the first country to legalize the growing, sale and smoking of marijuana on Tuesday, a pioneering social experiment that will be closely watched by other nations debating drug liberalization.

Other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession and the Netherlands allows its sale in coffee shops, but Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize the whole chain from growing the plant to buying and selling its leaves.

Several countries such as Canada, the Netherlands and Israel have legal programs for growing medical cannabis but do not allow cultivation of marijuana for recreational use.

5

Because you say, "I thought marijuana was legal in some Arab countries", therefore I assume you're asking about the contemporary world:

The rest of this answer will therefore deal with its current status: whether Uruaguay is the first in recent history to legalize it.


The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is an international treaty, which regulates cannabis.

As of May 2013, the Single Convention has 184 state parties. The Holy See plus all members of the UN are state parties, with the exception of Afghanistan, Chad, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, South Sudan, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Googling suggested to me that the exceptions listed (e.g. Afghanistan) have their own laws against cannabis.

The Wikipedia page Legality of cannabis by country shows:

  • It is illegal in all Arab countries.

  • Holland and North Korea are listed as exceptions on that page, but that's for possession.

  • It seems to be illegal but tolerated in some countries; for example it says of Lebanon,

    Possession is illegal. However, large amounts are grown within the country and personal use, as long as not in public is not a major issue.

  • Pakistan

    Illegal/Legal: Laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist, but are very rarely enforced. As with hash, the occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom, despite its association with lower-income groups. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild.

  • Nepal:

    Illegal (but not regulated) -- Marijuana and its derivatives, such as Hashish, are widely available throughout Nepal.

The UN are complaining about Uruguay's decision.

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