Originally Published: December 26th, 2014.
Cannabis laws are being reformed in many states throughout America, and similar changes are being made all over the world as people are learning more about the benefits that can be obtained from this plant with the not-so-positive reputation. While the one-and-only Amsterdam, Netherlands has been known as the place for marijuana-friendly tourists to vacation, some people would prefer to escape to a warmer, perhaps even tropical, destination. Now that laws are being reformed, there are many warm-climate destinations joining the realm of marijuana tourism.
In many places, as long as users are discreet, countries and local authorities may be nonchalant about marijuana use. Some countries are even beginning to encourage the reputation as a marijuana-friendly tourist destination because of the business and revenue it generates.
There are several amazing places that every marijuana enthusiast must visit at some point. Below are 5 of the warm-weather examples. The places on this list were evaluated by weather, activities offered, beauty, acceptance, and laws.
The United States purchased the 3 Virgin Island territories in the Caribbean, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, from Denmark almost 100 years ago. The three islands combined offer something for everyone, and they are all a short boat or plane ride from one another. St. Thomas has fun, sun, sand, a hot nightlife, and is an ideal spot for those who love to shop. St. John is a dream for the nature tourist, with stunning hiking trails, and very little of the island being inhabited. St. Croix is a scuba diver’s paradise, boasting some of the best dive sites in the world.
Although the islands share one local body of government, they are still technically regulated by the United States federal government, and therefore have operated under the same marijuana laws. However, perhaps inspired by the policy reform that swept the most recent U.S. election, the USVI senate recently voted to decriminalize marijuana possession with a quiet passing of a marijuana decriminalization bill. Now, an adult found in possession of up to 1 ounce of cannabis may be ticketed and fined up to $200 with no jail time. Law enforcement officers will also have the right to choose whether to confiscate the plant at that time.
photo credit: West End WS
This southeast Asian nation, just north of the equator, borders Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, and offers many activities to entice every type of traveler. Tourists can explore ancient temples, trek to hidden mountain waterfalls, scuba dive, shop, or even relax on the beach.
Although cannabis is technically illegal in Cambodia, it is one of the country’s largest export crops, and locals use it regularly as medicine and cooking. It is also reported to be commonly smoked in the open. Many tourists on Trip Advisor report Happy Herb Pizza places as having pies on the menu that use cannabis as a topping. The same chain pizza restaurant reportedly sells joints. Thanks to Cambodia, tropical vacations in Asia can be added to the list of marijuana-friendly vacation destinations.
photo credit: Phnom Penh Happy Pizza
The tropical island country of Jamaica hosts thousands of people each year. Tourists travel from all over the world to bask in the tropical sun on the island’s beautiful beaches, swim in bioluminescent bays, and experience rastafarian culture. Although cannabis has been very illegal in Jamaica, tourists have never had difficulty finding it. Some tourists have even arranged to be taken on pot-sampling tours.
Now that the Jamaican government is officially decriminalizing marijuana possession, and even considering establishing retail sales of the plant, tourists and locals alike no longer have to fear being arrested for partaking. This applies to the entire island.
photo credit: Island Buzz Jamaica
Australia is a large country that offers different climates depending on which part you travel to. The north part of the country tends to have a tropical climate, while the south end of the island nation is home to a more sub-tropical, temperate climate. The Northern Territory is known for beautiful landscapes of red desert, vast flood-planes, cavernous gorges, and aboriginal villages. South Australia boats beautiful beaches, wine regions, and the outback. Just as the weather differs depending on which state you are in, so do the marijuana laws. In South Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, possession of up to 100 grams of cannabis is decriminalized and punishable by a civil fine.
Even in the Australian states where marijuana possession is illegal, like New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and the island region of Tasmania, it is unlikely that a person will be arrested for having only a personal amount because law enforcement in Australia make efforts to divert users into educational classes rather than jails. Plus, medical marijuana is expected to be legalized in Victoria soon, and many other Australian states, including the territory island of Tasmania, are currently organizing efforts to push for marijuana policy reform. In the not-so-distant future, the entire country of Australia may be a marijuana friendly tourist destination.
photo credit: Wayn Quilliam Photography
Beach destinations at the far south tip of Mexico are already popular tourist vacation destinations, but the huge country of Mexico has even more to offer than sun and sand. Mexico is home to many different activities to meet the needs of almost any traveler.
In Mexico, travelers may experience ancient Mayan ruins, world-class museums, hiking trails, caves and cenotes, adventure tours, and some of the best street food in the world. Marijuana tourists can experience all of this while, legally, possessing a small amount of cannabis for personal use. As of 2009, personal possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis is decriminalized throughout the country of Mexico. Many travelers have warned, however, that being caught with more than 5 grams can turn into a very ugly legal situation, so be sure to possess only up to the lawful limit.
photo credit: Trekexchange
A medical marijuana company called AusCann, chaired by former Federal Liberal MP Mal Washer, just received Western Australia’s first medical marijuana cultivation license.
There are very few companies that have received these types of licenses in Australia, which are issued by the Office of Drug Control. According to Australian law, there are specific regulations regarding how a grower handles and processes their crops, including standards for security measures. Until their base of operations is established, AusCann will be importing medical marijuana from Chile, a country that has embraced cannabis agriculture. The import process will be facilitated by their Canadian partner, Canopy Growth Corporation, the largest producer of medical cannabis in North America.
“AusCann is positioned to be a leading player in the global medicinal cannabis market,” said Elaine Darby, managing director of AusCann. She emphasized that the company will devote resources to educating physicians on the medical properties of cannabis. That includes inviting Canadian medical marijuana expert Danial Schecter to speak at the University of WA Club.
“We’re not saying it is suitable for all patients but there is good evidence about the use of cannabinoid medicines for indications such as chronic pain,” Darby said. “There are a considerable number of people who could benefit from a treatment where the side effects are quite low.”
Darby also said that they will be collaborating with Phytoplant Research in Spain, who has a decade of experience in cannabis plant genetics.
AusCann is already performing well in Australia’s stock market, partially due to its plans for growth. Australia legalized medical marijuana in February 2016 with support from the government. “This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy.” said Sussan Ley, the Minister for Health, shortly after the measure was passed.
Andrew Miller, president of the Australian Medical Association WA, expressed his doubts about AusCann’s success in the market, as he believes few patients would qualify for the country’s medical marijuana program.
The ongoing explosion of the cannabis market has led to some exciting developments, and now it seems we’re on the verge of exploring an entirely new frontier: medical cannabis honey. Thanks to a substantial recent investment in an Australian tree plantation and some promising trends, experts believe that cannabis honey farm funding can be a positive development on a few fronts, including the potential for health benefits and helping to regenerate depleting bee populations around the world. Although we’re still in the early stages, new techniques have cannabis enthusiasts excited about the prospects of medical cannabis honey as researchers on the cutting edge push into uncharted territory.
Similar to cannabis, tea trees have a range of different medicinal applications, including the highly sought after Manuka honey that is produced by bees that pollinate with the tea trees. Some of the main benefits typically associated with Manuka honey include antioxidants that provide an immune system boost while acting as an anti-inflammatory agent. That’s why Manuka honey is such big business, with tea tree farms mostly in Australia and New Zealand exporting honey all over the world.
Looking to build on the successful Manuka honey market, organic tea tree farm Jenbrook just took in a $1.49 million infusion to partner up with EVE Investments with the goal of developing medical-grade hemp honey. Since Jenbrook already supplies the U.S. with a substantial amount of tree oil and honey products, the new direction makes perfect sense thanks to the blossoming medical cannabis market around the United States. With 29 states already on board with medical cannabis and more likely to pass initiatives in the 2018 elections, the overall potential of medical cannabis honey seems to be extremely promising despite being in the early phases of testing and development.
While it’s impossible to say for sure what the health benefits of medical cannabis honey might be, experts at Southern Cross University in Australia are already doing the legwork to test out the new product. Currently, Jenbrook is also in the process of finalizing new types of honey that will have anti-bacterial benefits and the company claims the honey will be able to treat certain diseases as well. With Jenbrook fixated on producing honey that maximizes health benefits, cannabis honey will be developed in the same way and aims to find new medical implementation for hemp.
But it’s not even only about human health either, as there is another potential benefit that is both small and enormous at the same time. While bee populations continue to drop around the world, creating significant complications with pollination, researchers are optimistic that hemp and tea tree farms could actually help regenerate bee populations. Based on the early research involving low THC cannabis plants and bees, Jenbrook official Bryan Easson recently suggested that the observable benefits to bee hives has provided some significant optimism. If Jenbrook is able to showcase bee hives thriving while pollinating with cannabis plants, the potential upside for cannabis honey would in turn go well beyond the billion-dollar Manuka honey market that the company is taking aim at.
Perhaps more than anything, creative cannabis trends like the production of medical cannabis honey suggests that the hemp revolution could really just be getting started. As the cannabis market in the U.S. and around the world continues to expand dramatically, the incentive for investment firms like EVE Investments to jump into the world of hemp research is likely to only increase from here. The ongoing development of products like cannabis honey also points to the exciting new ground being broken as researchers scramble to come up with the next big hemp application. Even though it will be a while before we fully understand the benefits and attributes of such collaborations, the world of cannabis seems to be breaking into new territory faster than ever.
Australia has received its first imported shipment of medical marijuana, with licensing and cultivation to follow.
“It’s sensational to be able to get the products that are there to help people, some of whom have no other treatment options,” said Paul Mavor, Director of Health House International, who received imported marijuana from Canada.
Australia legalized medical marijuana over a year ago, but the program was off to a slow start. The licensing process for growers was not up and running, and it would take more time for licensed growers to harvest the first crops. Therefore, the government allowed for the importation of cannabis so that patients wouldn’t have to suffer in the meantime.
But patients still had to wait. Once a patient was approved for medical marijuana treatment, the government imported just enough cannabis for one patient at a time. The newly imported medical marijuana will give patients faster access to their medicine and will allow pharmacies to keep it in stock, thanks to revised regulations that went into effect in February.
“Children suffering from epilepsy and patients dealing with side effects caused by cancer treatment are most likely to benefit from these products,”
said Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
He said that doctors will now be able to prescribe cannabis to patients knowing that the process of acquiring cannabis has been simplified. Physicians who prescribe cannabis to their patients will still need approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Professor Marco Falasca of Curtin University is looking forward to how doctors can use medical marijuana to combat severe illnesses, especially now that it is easier to obtain.
“Different diseases can be treated [with medical cannabis] from epilepsy to multiple sclerosis to cancer,” he said. “Our major aim is to find cures and answers to cancer patients.”
The gap between the signing of medical marijuana legislation and the day patients are able to purchase it locally can be years apart. Legalizing medical marijuana is more than just declaring it legal. Governments must essentially establish a new industry, one that is heavily regulated and needs strict guidelines, and find qualified growers willing to participate. In the United States, Georgia has legalized medical marijuana, but it has yet to provide legal medical cannabis to qualifying patients.
Cultivation licenses have been awarded to nine growers, the most recent being AusCann who will open a facility in Western Australia. While these growers launch their operations, the government will continue to import cannabis from Canada, Switzerland and The Netherlands, which will be delivered to Melbourne and Perth. The next shipment is scheduled for May.
Medical marijuana has been making headway in Australia with the legalization of in-country cultivation for medicinal and scientific purposes, but advocates are continuing to conduct acts of civil disobedience to make their voices heard.
The Free Cannabis Community is hosting an event on April 20th in Flagstaff Gardens in Melbourne. The event, which coincides with the most famous cannabis holiday, 4/20, is the 6th annual rally held by the organization, is expected to draw thousands.
The event will not include the buying or selling of cannabis, which is still illegal.
“This mass act of civil disobedience is not designed to cause any disruptions or to upset anybody. It is not about the wonderful benefits of cannabis but it IS about the wonderful people who are hurt by Cannabis Prohibition,”
the organization said on its Facebook page.
Free Cannabis Community held another event in Sydney at Victoria Park on April 9th. In attendance was Paul Lawrence, a terminally ill cancer patient with large tumors along his spinal column and back. He had previously been charged with possessing less than a gram of medical marijuana at one of the Free Cannabis Victoria events. “Only a sick state and a sick government and police force would arrest and charge an ill man like me,” said Lawrence in reference to his plans to attend the event on April 20.
Some of the tumors on Peter Lawrence’s back. He uses cannabis to manage the pain.
Both Lawrence and the Free Cannabis Community support the end of prohibition for the welfare of the community.
“The prohibition of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use does far more damage to society than someone like me having a quiet smoke with friends,”
In Australia, polling has shown that 91 percent of respondents support cannabis for medicinal use. It’s estimated that 750,000 Australians use cannabis on a weekly basis. The organizer of the event, Chris Hindi, wants to change the perception of the typical marijuana user. “There’s a stigma that cannabis users are lazy, slow and dopey but the majority of people aren’t; they’re lawyers, doctors and accountants. A lot of people are closet users.”
Hindi wants to move towards more research and less incarceration. “From what we know, there is no real detriment or side effects from cannabis use. Some say it will cause psychosis but we really don’t know that until we know more about it [so] why are we prosecuting good people?”
photo credit: Free Cannabis Victoria, News.com/au