Cannabis was designated a dangerous, controlled substance in the 20th century, first by the United States and then by much of the rest of the world. Yet, this early in the 21st century, opinions on marijuana — both as a medical treatment and a recreational drug — have rapidly changed.
Now, it is easy enough to find cannabis in conservative corners of the country; even states like Oklahoma have progressive medical marijuana programs. Yet, there are still a few places around the world where it is surprising that cannabis is so easy to get. Here are a few of those weed wildcards, which you may (or may not) want to travel to.
North Korea is not a nation known for its civil liberties. The communist dictatorship bans all sorts of normal behaviors, like buying real estate or cars, accessing the internet, or wearing denim, which is considered to be a symbol of American degeneracy. There are only 28 approved haircuts, and styling one’s hair in a banned method is grounds for a misdemeanor, if not lifetime imprisonment.
Still, North Koreans know how to do one thing right — and that’s cannabis. Allegedly, Dear Leader doesn’t consider marijuana to be a drug, so the plant grows openly throughout the country. Though we do not recommend visiting North Korea any time soon, when its borders are open, you might find it to be an incredibly dank destination.
Pakistan is generally considered to be India’s straight-laced cousin — though Pakistanis might bristle at the comparison. Strongly patriarchal thanks to its largely rural nature and the popularity of Islam, Pakistan doesn’t have a reputation for being relaxed and cool. Yet, the country could have some of the oldest marijuana traditions in the world.
Technically, cannabis is illegal throughout Pakistan, but because weed has such strong ties to Pakistani culture, its cultivation and use are widely tolerated. Many farmers in the country rely on cannabis exports. Though some areas of Pakistan are incredibly dangerous, you shouldn’t be afraid to visit common tourist sites like Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and others.
Iceland is one of the most progressive countries on Earth. Consistently ranked in the top five happiest nations. claiming the number-one position for gender equality, offering all sorts of state programs like universal healthcare, Iceland strives to take the best possible care of its people.
Even so, Iceland doesn’t have the same reputation with reefer as, say, Jamaica, so it is surprising to many that cannabis is such a popular drug in this cold, white country. In fact, one United Nations report suggests that Iceland has the greatest percentage of cannabis users by population in the entire world! Unfortunately, weed is mostly used here on the sly, and it could be several more years before the nation passes more progressive pot regulations, so you shouldn’t expect to find legal dispensaries on your next Iceland trip. In contrast, states like Oklahoma offer a bevy of marijuana dispensaries for medical card-holders to visit!
Like other destinations on this list, Cambodia has a reputation as a spiritual space, a culinary center, a place with beautiful natural scenery, and a stronghold of communist sentiment, but it also deserves to be known for its widespread acceptance of weed. Again, Cambodian law technically forbids the sale, possession, and use of cannabis, but it is easy enough for anyone, locals, and visitors alike, to find marijuana to consume without fear.
Perhaps the best and most unique weed experience you can find in Cambodia is a “Happy Restaurant,” which is an eatery that serves food and drinks imbued with cannabinoids. Not only will you get some delectable Cambodian fare, like samlor machu trey or nom banh chok, but you’ll leave the meal as high as a kite.
You might not be able to point to Uruguay on a map, but if you love all things cannabis, you should certainly learn where to find this important place. Uruguay was the first country in the world to pass recreational marijuana laws nationwide; though the laws are a little prohibitive — they require anyone interested in buying weed to register with a government agency — they are also remarkably loose, allowing people over 18 to get high almost anywhere.
Underrated by American tourists, Uruguay is an amazing vacation destination on its own. You can enjoy some world-class beaches, some fascinating culture and history and some delectable Uruguayan dining, even if you decide not to dope it up on your trip.
Cannabis did not originate in the United States, and there are plenty of places around the world where you can find the crop and the culture thriving. Even in places, you don’t expect, people just love consuming weed.