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The legality of cannabis varies from country to country. Possession of cannabis is illegal in most countries and has been since the beginning of widespread cannabis prohibition in the late 1930s. However, possession of the plant in small quantities has been decriminalized in many countries and sub-national entities in several parts of the world. For example, cannabis in Canada will be legal for recreational use if legislation is passed in July 2018. On 10 December 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the sale, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis. In the Netherlands, the Opium Law of 1976 enables consumers to buy marijuana in legal “coffeeshops” if certain rules are followed. In the United States, federal law prohibits possession or sale of marijuana for any purpose, but the Obama administration refrained from prosecuting users and dealers operating in compliance with state (see Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction), territory, and Indian reservation laws which permit medical or recreational marijuana.
Some countries have laws that are not as vigorously prosecuted as other countries, but apart from the countries which offer access to medical marijuana, most countries have penalties ranging from lenient to very severe. Some infractions are taken more seriously in some countries than others in regard to the cultivation, use, possession, or transfer of cannabis for recreational use.
Southeast Asia, where the sale of cannabis may lead to life imprisonment or execution
Attitudes regarding legalization
Many advocate the legalization of cannabis, believing that it will eliminate the illegal trade and associated crime, yield valuable tax and reduce policing costs. For example, in Canada, where Cannabis is legal for medical use, with a doctor’s prescription, 7 in 10 Canadians also favor full decriminalization according to a June 2016 national poll.
In 1969, only 16% of voters in the USA supported legalization, according to a Gallup poll. Another said that this number had risen to 36% by 2005. More recent polling indicates that the number has risen even further; in 2009, between 46% and 56% of US voters said they would support legalization.
In the medieval Arab world, hashish use was associated with Sufism, a counterculture within the Arab community. Their religious stance and non-conformist attitudes to conservative Islamic rules combined to make the Sufis pariahs in the Arab world. Islamic leaders used the Sufis’ hashish culture as a pretext for oppressing dissent within the societies they controlled. While efforts to eliminate hashish have often been quite dramatic, all attempts ultimately have proved futile. Moreover, mainstream Islam forbids the use of any mind-altering substance, including cannabis