This article was co-authored with Bojana Petkovic, Project Manager, at

The trend of cannabis legalization is spreading throughout the globe. Uruguay and Canada became the first two countries to fully legalize the plant for both medicinal and recreational purposes. The USA has not yet done the same on a federal level, nevertheless some states have already passed laws that allow growing, processing, distributing, and using cannabis products.

In this article, we discuss the world of cannabis legalization, talk a little bit about the history involved as well as the public’s opinion, potential benefits and risks of cannabis use, and more.

The History of Cannabis Legalization

Most countries worldwide have had their cannabis legality policies modeled by the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs from 1961. Therefore, cannabis is illegal in most parts of the world, particularly in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

Most of these laws have remained unchanged up until the last decade, when there were some major discoveries on the potential health benefits of the substance. Uruguay was the first country to fully legalize cannabis in 2013, followed by Canada five years later.

When it comes to the United States, the legalization wave started in 2012, when Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Today, cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in many places, while governments in other places have started to decriminalize marijuana and treat it as a minor offense.

General Opinion on Legalization

In 1969, only 12% of the population in the United States was in favor of cannabis legalization. Most of this was due to the bad image propaganda promulgated by the government through the media. Things have changed significantly since then with two-thirds of all American citizens now supporting the legalization of the green plant.

Similar approval levels can be seen in some other countries in Western Europe as well as in Central and South America. Nevertheless, most places in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia still view cannabis as a dangerous drug and probably will not be legalizing or decriminalizing it any time soon.

Pros & Cons

Why is there such a craze to legalize cannabis? Well, a lot of it has to do with the medicinal benefits and positive effects it can have on our physical and mental health.

For example, CBD has been found to help with inflammation, stress, and aid in the healing of broken bones. Cannabis has been recommended to help with multiple sclerosis, diabetes, depression, dementia, ADHD, pain, migraines, and even with cancer.

That said, marijuana – like any drug or altering substance – has drawbacks, some of which include mild addiction, decline in cognitive abilities, bad oral health, lung complications, increased heart rate, paranoia, schizophrenia, and more.

Popular Myths About Cannabis

The majority of countries that have not yet legalized cannabis likely still believe in a certain myths surrounding the plant.

For instance, many still claim that cannabis is a gateway drug, although there is little to no proof of any such connection. Others go along with the popular belief that cannabis is a dangerous drug that leads to crime and delinquent behavior.

As more robust research is performed across all platforms, the therapeutic and ameliorative properties of marijuana will be harder to deny.


The stigma surrounding cannabis use is slowly declining on a global level. With new discoveries about its health benefits and effects, we should see a global shift towards legalization and exploration over the next decade.

Bojana Petkovic, Project Manager,