As cannabis legalization and social acceptance continues to spread worldwide, we are seeing new opportunities arise for those who love to travel, expand their horizons, and experience the sights and sounds of other cultures. Amsterdam, with its famously lax drug laws, is one popular destination that comes to mind; and in the United States, Colorado built an entire industry of cannabis tourism for those who “want to get their weed on” while visiting the Rocky Mountain State.
With the official end of winter still a month away, however, the lure of a cannabis-friendly tropical getaway may too much to resist. Caribbean, South Pacific, and Central American locales remain among the most popular for those who enjoy palm trees, picturesque blue skies, and postcard-worthy beaches. Much like in the U.S., cannabis laws in these places vary, with recreational marijuana outlawed in some countries, decriminalized in others, or only legal for medicinal purposes.
To help you plan your next getaway, and because no one wants to be caught off guard, here’s a list of five cannabis-friendly – some more than others – tropical destinations.
The tiny town of Negril on the south side of the island of Jamaica is famous for its destination resorts, including the adults-only Hedonism II with its famous nude beach and the cannabis-friendly Coral Cove Resort & Spa. Though Jamaican culture has long been associated with “ganja”, it’s only as recent as 2015 that the government passed laws to decriminalize marijuana and establish legalized medical marijuana. Possession of up to two ounces of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense in Jamaica, but rather a petty offense, and cultivation of up to five plants is allowed. Possession of up to two ounces for medical purposes is legal.
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U.S. Virgin Islands
If the beaches of St. John are calling your name, you’re not alone. Tourism is one of the primary economic drivers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, drawing nearly 1.8 million people to the island chain in 2019. Cannabis has the potential to become another economic staple, as the Democratic Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. last year signed a bill that creates a framework for medical marijuana licensing and regulation.
The Office of Cannabis Regulation provides medical marijuana cards to approved patients and oversees dispensaries in the territory. Dispensaries are permitted to allow cannabis consumption on site, but using cannabis in public is a no-no. Looking for specific numbers? Cannabis possession of up to four ounces is legal for residents. Cannabis possession of up to three ounces is legal for non-residents.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
The Costa Rican community of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a surfer’s paradise and also lies within one of the more easygoing locales when it comes to cannabis. The drug itself is decriminalized, meaning you won’t get into trouble for possessing a small amount, although exactly what constitutes “small” is up for debate. Selling marijuana is out of the question, but Costa Rica’s government is considering legislation that would allow a medicinal cannabis economy to thrive.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
The largest of the Canary Islands and the most populated island of Spain is beloved for its natural and architectural beauty, including the Mount Teide volcano in Teide National Park and the Castle of San Andrés. You might even recognize the filming locations for some recent Hollywood blockbusters, including Fast & Furious 6, Jason Bourne, and Clash of the Titans. Tenerife is also home to cannabis social clubs, operating under Spain’s less restrictive laws which make it legal to cultivate and consume the drug in private settings. Public consumption, however, is off limits.
While Belize has a reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful vacation spots, the pipeline of illegal drugs that flow through Central America on the way to the United States raises alarms about the heightened violent crime rate throughout the region. Still, Belize has many safe, tourist-friendly areas, and the highest rate of marijuana use in Central America. In 2017, the Government of Belize passed legislation that legalized possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, and consumption is allowed in private spaces. However, it is illegal to grow and sell marijuana in Belize, so if you’re buying from someone, you’re breaking the law.
Every one of these destinations has appeal, but the bottom line remains: do your research before booking your next canna-cation. Just as you want to know where to shop and where to eat, you should know what’s legal, how much is legal, and, most importantly, where you’re allowed to purchase and consume cannabis.