It all started with Uruguay in 2014 and what looked like an experiment straight out of left field. But when Canada and South Africa followed suit in 2018, it became clear that legalization of recreational cannabis was something every nation in the world would be forced to seriously discuss and debate.
Over the past couple of years, the focus has been on the US, which has taken a state by state approach, in much the same way as it has handled the gambling question. But governments all across the globe have their own cannabis related legislative changes at various stages. Here, we look at three likely contenders to welcome legalization before 2021 is out.
No big surprise with our first entrant. Mexico has been discussing legalization for years, and was expected to sign new laws into effect back in 2019. Finalizing the process has taken more time than expected, due first to delays in agreeing the finer points to the legislative wording, and then as a result of the government being distracted by matters relating to a certain pandemic.
The latter factor means that there is still no definitive date, but it seems certain that it is a matter of when, not if, legalization will become a reality in Mexico. Signing it into law before the end of 2021 is a realistic possibility.
The European Union can be both a driver and an anchor when it comes to major change in Europe. As far as legalization of cannabis is concerned, it has seemed the latter so far, with every country taking a watch and wait approach to see who will move first. The answer is a surprising one, with the tiny state of Luxembourg leading the way.
Its central European location might not make it as obvious a choice as Uruguay or Mexico for cultivation, but sellers have long been touting the best cannabis seeds for colder climates ever since Canada legalized. Luxembourg lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of legalization in 2019, and the government launched a two-year plan. Inevitably, this timeline has been placed under pressure by other events, but completion by the end of the year is still a realistic expectation.
Cannabis legalization has been a hot topic for discussion in Israel for several years. Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn has been one of the most high-profile advocates, and last November he officially broke cover, announcing an ambitious plan to complete the process in as little as nine months. Nissenkorn describes the bill as "significant, holistic and responsible reform,” and added that it demonstrates Israel’s pragmatic approach to leading the way alongside other developed countries.
Of course, this is not the first time Israel has floated the notion of legalization, and the bill still needs Parliamentary approval. Still, this time even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounds cautiously in favor, saying the time is right to "resolve the issue." If the rest of parliament has a similar view, then Nissenkorn’s timeline could prove to be a realistic one.