Punishment For Smoking Weed is Death? Countries That Kill for Cannabis?
Drug laws are by their very nature draconian. Telling someone what they can and can’t put in their body is restrictive and unethical in and of itself. However, there are levels to this repressive drug laws game. If you thought being stuffed in the back of a dank, urine-soaked Ford Crown Victoria was bad (which it is), just remember that there are countries that kill for cannabis.
So let’s have a look at the cannabis wall of shame and evaluate the contestants for the worst cannabis laws of all time.
As you’re about to witness, a lot of countries that kill for cannabis are in South East Asia. Perhaps they could take a few notes from Thailand on their punishment for smoking weed.
In Malaysia, the most severe punishment for smoking weed on the books is death. Under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1952, anyone caught with an excessive amount of cannabis is deemed to be a drug trafficker. This necessary minimum amount to meet the qualifications for execution is about 200 grams worth. Based on this information it is advisable that Snoop Dog and the Diaz brothers stay clear of Malaysia.
The death penalty in Malaysia is administered by hanging. In extreme cases, the prisoner will be sentenced to a whipping or canning before their execution is carried out. While undoubtedly intended to be a deterrent measure, this just seems gratuitous and cruel.
Luckily for Malaysian citizens, simple possession is not an offense that warrants the death penalty. However, such an offense will yield 5 years in prison and a substantial fine. Jesus… get it together Mahathir Bin Mohamad… and please no more antisemitism either.
On a list of countries that kill for cannabis, you knew Singapore would turn up sooner or later. Malaysia’s neighbor to the south is known for some rather strange laws. Did you know that the country has made chewing gum illegal?
This ex British colony enforces a strict rule of law and places a high societal value on order, cleanliness, and discipline.
Singapore was one of the earliest nations to prohibit marijuana, criminalizing the plant in 1870. The Misuse of Drugs Act was enacted in 1973 and dictates much of the nations drug penalties.
When I think of misuse of drugs, the first thing that pops into my mind are those cannabis bonfires that drug enforcement agencies seem to love. Are they trying to get god high? Don’t they know that cedar makes much better kindling?
Ironically, in Singapore misuse of drugs involves actually using them to getting high. I can personally think of no more appropriate use for drugs.
The city-state of Singapore is a tad trigger happy when it comes to the death penalty. The small nation had the World’s second highest per capita execution rate from 1994 – 1998. In addition, Singapore carries a mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking. I’m surprised that trafficking in chewing gum doesn’t yield a similar punishment.
Singapore is rather lax with their definition of trafficking as well. Under the aforementioned act, 15 grams is enough to merit a death sentence. Death sentences are carried out by long drop hanging. This is the more humane method of hanging that instantly breaks the criminal’s neck when the rope reaches its apex.
Foreigners are not immune from death sentences either, as one Nigerian soccer player was hanged two years ago for possessing 92 grams of cannabis.
So what is the punishment for smoking weed in Singapore? People caught with under 15 grams of cannabis face a number of draconian penalties, ranging from 24 lashes with a cane to life in prison in the most severe cases.
According to this list, South East Asia does not appear very good in the human rights department… But believe me, it gets worse.
Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, recently released a new National Drug Control Policy that they believe will better address many of the issues the nation is currently facing. This policy attempts to move away from a punitive model, towards a more health-focused approach.
The new policy is strikingly modern and progressive for a nation that has executed for marijuana in the past. The policy calls for decriminalizing personal drug use and encourages alternatives to prison time for drug charges. This new punishment for smoking weed is a logical and sound choice of public policy indeed.
This change in course for Myanmar comes in the wake of a long and grueling struggle with drug trafficking. The country has long been renown as one of the world’s largest producers of opium. But what is the punishment for smoking weed here? And what about selling it?
Cannabis was banned in the nation in 1870 under… You guessed it… British rule. Today, the punishment for smoking weed is commonly handed down to Indian migrant workers as Burmese citizens are much less likely to consume the plant.
Myanmar is one of the countries that kill for cannabis trafficking and well as possession. Anyone caught possessing what is deemed an excessive amount of cannabis is automatically considered to be trafficking.
Myanmar’s death penalty for trafficking becomes mandatory if the criminal is in possession of weapons or explosives, uses children under the age of 16 in their process, or uses the influence of a public servant in carrying out the offenses.
Like its other South Asian counterparts, Myanmar hangs its traffickers. On the wall of shame, Myanmar stands out as one of the less harsh countries that kill for cannabis.
Finally, we can take some heat off of South East Asia. Egypt is one of the few African countries that kill for cannabis. The 1870s were a bad year for cannabis rights as Egypt outlawed the plant in 1877.
Cannabis has long been a staple in Egypt and has been grown in the nation since 3000bc. In ancient history, the plant was not smoked but utilized to make a sturdy hemp rope. Psychoactive strains were not yet introduced to the continent and would not be for 4000 more years.
Egypt also has a rich history with hashish dating back to the middle-ages. Hashish was introduced to the nation by wandering Sufi mystics in the 1100s Ad. Ever since the plant has been a cultural staple. In Egypt cannabis was referred to as Indian hemp, which hints strongly at the plant’s origins.
Trafficking cannabis is punishable by death in Egypt. Possession may also be punishable by death if the person is suspected of trading the substance. A more drug serious offense also exists on the books which referred to as drug trafficking resulting in death, although this offense is surely not enacted for cannabis.
As far as countries that kill for cannabis, Egypt is not afraid to enact its archaic drug enforcement laws. In one case as recent as 2013, an imprisoned British traveler was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle 3 tones of hash into the nation by boat. Hanging is once again the only method of execution utilized in Egypt.
Today, cannabis in Egypt is a fairly widely utilized substance. The punishment for smoking weed in Egypt is rarely enforced, and law enforcement will often give people a pass for using the plant. Trust me… they have bigger fish to fry.
If I were to make a tally of all the administrations that value human life on this planet, China’s communist party would undoubtedly be absent. Human rights abuses are more prevalent than many would like to acknowledge in China, thus it is no surprise that they would appear on a list of countries that kill for cannabis.
Believe it or not, China actually used to be a major exporter of marijuana. In the 1800s, the Islamic, Xinjan region used to produce and export hashish. The plant was legally sold in British India until the trade routes were eliminated by the government in 1934. Black market smuggling persisted after this however, and these cannabis trade routes would continue.
To this day, cannabis is widely grown in Yunnan province, despite unsuccessful attempts by the government to eradicate the plant. You would think they would have learned not to mess with mother nature after attempting to purge the country of sparrows and locusts…
In China, those caught drug trafficking receive death sentences by firing squad or occasionally lethal injection. China’s anti-drug campaign takes ‘just say no‘ scare tactics to a whole new level. In fact, in a recent anti-drug initiative, the government publicly executed 10 people in front of a stadium crowd in Liufeng in Guangdong province. With the current trajectory of drug policy, it is reasonable to assume that history will not look favorably upon these crimes against human decency.
The punishment for smoking weed in China is considerably less harsh. The Law on Public Security Administration Punishments states that the punishment for smoking weed is 10 -15 days in prison and a fine of 2000 Yuan. However, consequences can often be as severe as a 3-year prison sentence.
The fact that China doesn’t execute for consuming cannabis is a fortunate fact for Jackie Chan’s son.
If you’ve been following world news lately, you may be familiar with President Rodrigo Duterte. What this man has done for his country’s drugs policy can be considered nothing short of genocide.
Unfortunately for the Philippines, Duterte’s regime takes the statement war on drugs a little too seriously. Unlike the American war on drugs (which is certainly devastating in its own right) this war has a real, accumulating body count. As of this date, more than 20,000 people have fallen victim to the firing squads.
Drug users and dealers aren’t even given the dignity of a trial as many are dragged from their homes into the streets and shot on site.
Not much more needs to be said about the punishment for smoking weed in the Philippines other than the fact that Duterte’s campaign is shockingly supported by a public majority. Additionally, the president has no plans of stopping the violence any time soon.
Here we are at our final entry. Saudi Arabia is infamous on the world’s stage as one of the last true monarchies. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries most synonymous with human rights abuses. Anecdotal experience from yours truly might further enforce this perception. Two friends of mine have both lived in Saudi Arabia for a significant portion of their childhood. Both of these people witnessed public beheadings before they reached the age of 14.
The country is governed under a puritanical, orthodox version of Sunni Islam referred to as Wahhabism. This strain of Islam is often criticized as one of the least tolerant and most oppressive. Saudi Law doesn’t do much to assuage this perception either. In addition to cannabis, the country also executes for adultery and witchcraft… Harry Potter be damned.
For possession charges, Saudi citizens are often treated with more leniency than foreigners. The first time a suspect is caught, their punishment for smoking weed will result in up to 6 months in prison and more than a few whippings.
Drug dealing can result in as many as 10 years in prison and mandatory public whippings as well. For repeat offenders or traffickers, the situation is more dire, as they can receive the death penalty.
The Kingdom of Suadi Arabia prefers their executions to be brutal, bloody and, public in order to make a spectacle of the accused. The two most common methods are stoning and beheading, both occur in public. Firing squads have also been used and it is rumored that crucifixions have taken place in modern times as well.
Bodies of the victims are displayed publicly, hanging from cranes or buildings as a further deterrent to criminals.
Foreigners will rarely be executed as punishment for smoking weed or smuggling in Saudi Arabia. Deportation is usually the consequence of such actions. However, in the nation’s capital of Riyad, Saudi authorities executed one of its citizens along with two Yemenis in 2016 for attempting to smuggle hashish and amphetamines into the country.
Countries That Kill for Cannabis… A Final Thought
With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, as well as recent successes in the United States, South Africa, and Mexico, it is easy to forget that some nations are living in a different century with concern to cannabis laws.
While it might seem easy to draw geographic parallels (cough South East Asia), one should caution from making snap generalizations. The punishment for smoking weed can be different as night and day between two geographic neighbors as we have seen with Thailand and the Philipines.
While the cannabis rights movement has made overwhelming progress in the last 10 years, there is still a long way to go, and a great many minds to change.
Which nation would you be least likely to smoke weed in? Let us know in the comments below.
By: Stefan Hosko