Wednesday 6 December 2023

Marijuana Laws in Latin America

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Latin America is a great travel destination for those looking to let loose and enjoy beaches, mountains, and rainforests. More so, there is a wide variety of cultures that entertains and will leave tourists desiring to stay longer. When spoilt for choice of destinations, it can become difficult to pinpoint the right one. More so, if you are a cannabis user and want to experience it in South America.

Uruguay was the first country in Latin America to legalize marijuana use and despite the strong catholic roots of many of the other Latin American countries, cannabis is slowly becoming legal.

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Social movements advocating for legalization are some of the major factors that are leading to this newfound perspective toward the herb through policy and laws. Here is a sneak peek into how effective they have been in different Latin American countries.

The Law

While there have been many strides toward the legalization of marijuana in Latin America, there is nowhere it is legal for non-residents. As a tourist, it is in your best interest not to carry any to avoid sentencing. It is not the kind of vacation you want.

Some countries are loosening marijuana penalties and laws are Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Peru and more recently, Ecuador which allows for marijuana of THC levels lower than 1 percent. Colombia has also decriminalized personal use of marijuana allowing up to 20 grams.


Marijuana is still mostly illegal in Chile, though the country has the highest per capita consumption in Latin America. While public opinion is for it, the political opinion is against it though it has seen some positive movement in 2015, where it was allowed for personal use.

Since then, Chileans freely use pipes, bongs and other marijuana consumption devices on social get-togethers, and the price per gram is about $25. Dab rigs, such as those here sold by Grasscity, are also а common choice in Chile.  People in Chile consider smoking a social activity, and concerts are considered cannabis conventions.

Large-scale growers have also been granted permits by the Agriculture and Livestock Service. Some imports for medical purposes have been permitted too such as Savitex, which is cannabis-based. Alef Biotechnology imported 600 bottles of 25 ml that can be used for special prescriptions.

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If there is a pioneer for marijuana legalization in Latin America, it is Uruguay. Since 2013, they legalized both medical and recreational marijuana though there is pushback from banks due to sanctions associated with the herb. The negative perception has also led to only about 17 of 1000 pharmacies stocking medical marijuana products.

The challenge with this perception is it has strengthened the black market. There is some light at the end of the tunnel though with an acquisition by Aurora Cannabis in 2018 which took over 90 percent of the market share of marijuana in Uruguay.


Legalization in Peru started in early 2019. It allows for cultivation. Processing, importation, exportation and commercialization of regulated medical marijuana products. These products are licensed through the Peru Directorate General of Medicines, Supplies and Drugs. While recreational marijuana is still illegal, it is acceptable to have up to 8 grams for personal use.


Colombia is plagued with a bad reputation when it comes to drugs such as cocaine associated with its drug cartels. Marijuana has been bundled up with this reputation getting it labeled “Planta Que Mata” which means the plant that kills. In 2015, a law was passed to regulate medical marijuana allowing it to be grown, processed, imported and exported as long as you have a federal license. In 2016, home cultivation and medical use were legalized. With those developments, there is hope for its name to change to “Planta Que Sana”, the plant that heals.

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One of the most popular destinations for tourists in Latin America that must be approached with caution. The police are very strict and notorious for preying on tourists who want to enjoy marijuana on their visit. The best option is to try it in private.


With an unstable political climate that adds to the tension, Venezuela is not an ideal place to get on the wrong side of the law for marijuana possession. You can face imprisonment and conviction. Worse still, you can face up to years before sentencing so it is best to avoid it.


Latin America has gone a long way in legalizing marijuana but there is still room for improvement. The countries taking the lead are Uruguay, Peru, Chile, and Colombia while Brazil and Venezuela are lagging. Depending on your intentions of travel, consider these.

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Carter Maddox
Carter Maddox
Carter is self-described as thirty-three-and-a-half years old and his thirty-three-and-a-half years birthday is always on March 3. Carter characteristically avoids pronouns, referring to himself in the third person (e.g. "Carter has a question" rather than, "I have a question"). One day [in 1984], Carter, raised himself up and from that day forward we could all read what Carter writes.

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