5 Countries That Love Weed – And The Culture Behind It
Feel like you’ve seen all there is to see of US cannabis culture? Then consider booking a flight to one of these five destinations, where cannabis isn’t just freely available and of superb quality, but intimately woven into the fabric of the culture too.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Netherlands – and especially Amsterdam – Europe’s cannabis Mecca. Its “coffee shops”, apart from offering a legendary variety of weed strains, are among the safest and most welcoming smoke spots in the world. Add in some gorgeous canals, a Red Light district and a metric ton of history, and it’s hardly surprising that the Netherlands is the world’s number one country for cannabis tourism. The favorite way to smoke here is the classic European method: mixed with tobacco in a fat joint.
A sleepy African country, jammed between its bigger and badder neighbors. It more than makes up for its innocuousness by exporting a tremendous amount of notoriously potent weed to them; from Nairobi to Johannesburg, from Dar Es Salaam to Kinshasa, “Malawi Gold” is a by-word for the strongest stuff money can buy, at prices so low they’re almost charitable. The locals usually acquire their gear in the form of pre-rolled joints – multiple to the dollar – and perhaps due to this bounteous accessibility, the country is one of the most friendly and welcoming on the continent.
3. North Korea
Yes, you read right. While the Land of Liberty has a brutally unfair, unjust and racist War on Drugs, this totalitarian pariah state has no anti-cannabis legislation at all. People smoke it openly. You can buy bags of the stuff – literally, bags – for well under a dollar. In fact, it’s uncertain whether North Korean society even views it as a drug at all. Dubbed ip tambae, it’s most commonly smoked in rolled up strips of newspaper (not joking, honestly) by workers, soldiers and laborers alike after a hard day’s toil.
Cannabis is popular in Jamaica for one overwhelming reason: its status as a sacrament within Rastafari tradition, the “herb that is the healing of the nations”, as per Biblical Revelation. In their eyes, it allows the smoker to see the truth of things more clearly, bringing them closer to the ultimate truth: the divine itself. Rastafari take this a step further by smoking up as a group and discussing thoughts, beliefs and philosophies together, making their cannabis tradition probably one of the most sociable in the world.
Fun fact: weed is actually illegal in Jamaica, although this isn’t particularly well enforced (obviously).
India’s relationship with cannabis is older, deeper and more intimate than that of any other country. The first mention of cannabis in Indian (and human) history comes from Vedic scriptures dating to 2000 BCE; so that’s four thousand years of cannabis culture, almost all of it within a spiritual context. As a consequence, they treat the plant with the reverence it deserves, perhaps more so than any other culture. It’s most commonly consumed in the form of bhang, an infusion of the leaves and buds, and via the more familiar ganja and hashish forms, both of which are smoked.
Fun fact: Cannabis indica literally means “Indian cannabis”.