Why is marijuana illegal in so many places?

why is marijuana illegal

It is a popular plant boasting many benefits, but why is marijuana still illegal in so many countries?

The main reason is that many authorities are still suspicious of the drug and the harm it may bring.

Even though many clinical trials have been carried out on the medical benefits of marijuana, its recreational use cases are banned in many countries. In fact, recreational cannabis, so far, is only fully legal in the following countries:

  • Canada
  • Georgia
  • South Africa
  • Uruguay

Countries such as Portugal, Paraguay, Switzerland and Estonia have made recreational marijuana decriminalized. However, many countries have legalised medical cannabis due to it providing great health benefits. These countries include Italy, Croatia and Australia. 

Why is marijuana illegal?

Despite the benefits being widely discussed, recreational marijuana still contains a high level of THC, meaning it has negative side-effects. This high level of THC means that the drug has a psychoactive nature which can affect the way a person thinks and operates.

Medical cannabis is legal because it does not contain any THC, meaning it will not make the user feel ‘high’. Because of this, medical institutions and governments around the world are opening up to the idea of medical cannabis. But the thought of legalising marijuana for recreational uses is still frowned upon. 

The possible negative side effects of cannabis are still among the main reasons behind it being illegal. Studies have shown that when taking marijuana at a young age, the body can become dependant on it. This addiction can potentially affect a person’s mental health and make them become mentally and physically ill.

Illegal in the UK

The UK is one of the many countries that has not yet legalised marijuana. It is classified as a class B drug for recreational uses and has been restricted since 1928. Despite this, the UK has made medical cannabis when prescribed by a registered doctor legal since November 2018.

The UK is also home to one of the largest medical cannabis producers and exporters in the world. Called GW Pharmaceuticals, it is a medical cannabis production company and is behind the first approved cannabis products, Sativex and Epidiolex. 

However, despite the medical cannabis legality, the country is still adamant on remaining cannabis-free. There have been many reasons behind this, even though several polls have shown that 50% of the UK wants to legalise cannabis. One reason is that MPs believe the drug will be putting money into the pocket of criminals. But this doesn’t mean to say the UK will never legalise cannabis.

Lesser known reasons for illegality

Not all of the reasons behind the illegality of marijuana are well-known. One reason that marijuana is illegal is to do with agriculture lobbies. If the drug was to become legal, producers such as GMO would suffer from large economic impacts. Hemp could very easily replace GMO crops for making fuel as it can be grown without needing modifications.

Other products such as denim and canvas that are made with BT cotton can be made more sustainably with hemp. If this was to happen, certain farming companies would be out of business and this would affect the economy.


The legalisation of marijuana is looking likely for the future, with more petitions and arguments appearing, the world is seeing the benefits of this popular plant. In order to get this legalisation, more tests and clinical trials will be needed in to ensure the drug is safe. 

For all of the latest news regarding cannabis legalisation, make sure to follow The Leaf Desk.