Cannabis and tourism: a future UK industry perspective

Daniel William Mackenzie Wright (Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Events, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)

Journal of Tourism Futures

ISSN: 2055-5911

Article publication date: 8 October 2019

Issue publication date: 21 November 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to offer original ideas into a potential future cannabis industry in the UK. This paper presents novel approaches regarding the potential existence of cannabis for the tourism industry. It presents an idea in which the UK Government could produce, distribute and control the industry. The proposed idea presents a scheme in which the UK could encourage regional tourism (inclusive to domestic and international travellers) through a controlled but innovative cannabis market scheme. This paper presents a future scenario aiming to encourage dialogue and critique, at a time when attitudes to cannabis are changing.

Design/methodology/approach

This research takes a scenario narrative approach in presenting and exploring a potential future cannabis market in the UK. The importance of narrative writing as a method is recognised by Lindgren and Bandhold (2009), who identify the significance in telling a story to the reader. Taking a pragmatic approach, embracing diverse philosophical methods, this research explores past and current trends via a mixture of secondary data sources to create and present a scenario narrative of the future.

Findings

This paper identified that trends in legalising cannabis for cultivation, medical and recreational purposes continue to become more liberal globally. However, cannabis laws mainly focus on the use for residents. Consequently, domestic tourism markets have the potential to grow. However, there is limited consideration regarding the potential for international tourism cannabis markets. Thus, the findings of this research are based on the potential for the UK to implement and promote a cannabis industry for international travellers.

Originality/value

This paper offers original ideas in exploring a future cannabis market in the UK, one where regional tourism is considered. The paper presents a novel approach that encourages domestic and international tourists to engage with the cannabis industry by navigating a well-managed, local approach to supplying cannabis in the UK.

Keywords

Citation

Wright, D.W.M. (2019), "Cannabis and tourism: a future UK industry perspective", Journal of Tourism Futures, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 209-227. https://doi.org/10.1108/JTF-10-2018-0064

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Daniel William Mackenzie Wright

License

Published in Journal of Tourism Futures. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


Introduction

Rise and shine its marijuana time! Across the western world, attitudes towards cannabis are changing. There has been a growing willingness amongst various political parties and their advisors to allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and for some countries the legalisation for personal, recreational use. Current trends point to more liberal attitudes towards cannabis emerging in some cultures. Consequently, a process of normalisation in the wider social society between users and non-users towards cannabis consumption could emerge over time. In the USA, the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, at state level, policies regarding the medical and recreational use of cannabis vary greatly, with nine states allowing the use of recreational cannabis, contrary to federal law. In Uruguay and the USA international purchase and consumption of cannabis remains illegal, whilst Canada who in 2018 legalised cannabis will allow provinces to make their own state laws regarding tourist consumption (at the time of writing, there was limited information available regarding the position taken across the country). In Amsterdam, the Netherlands, a popular cannabis tourism destination, cannabis remains illegal, but the cannabis market continues to be a pull for domestic and international tourists. Cannabis continues to be popular recreational drug in the UK. Evidence across the globe highlights that tourist travel purposely to destinations to consumer cannabis, thus, this paper considers cannabis’ what approach could the UK tourism market apply towards cannabis.

Does legalising cannabis offer new possibilities for UK tourism? This paper explores the future potential of a UK cannabis tourism market, in the form of a scenario. This paper offers original ideas exploring a potential future cannabis industry in the UK. The purpose of this paper is to explore a potential strategy in which the UK could integrate cannabis across the country, to encourage tourists to travel to less visited towns and cities. It presents an idea in which the UK Government could produce, distribute and control the industry. The proposed idea presents a scheme in which the UK could encourage regional tourism (inclusive to domestic and international travellers) through a controlled but innovative cannabis market scheme. It is worth noting, that this market is not suggested to be the dominant future tourism market in the UK. The purpose of this paper is to present a future scenario that will encourage dialogue and critique, at a time when attitudes to cannabis are changing. The structure of this paper initiates with an introduction to cannabis, then it considers global attitudes and approaches to cannabis focusing on cultivation, medical and recreational uses before focusing on more recent developments within the UK. Next, the methodological approach is explained, followed by the future scenario; Cannabis County Competitive Strategy (CCCS). To draw discussions to an end, considerations towards the importance of developing a cannabis culture are expressed.

An introduction to cannabis

Humans have co-evolved with cannabis for at least 12,000 years. We have changed cannabis and cannabis has changed us. (Stanford, 2016)

Once upon a time, according to a story recounted by the Islamic chronicler al-Maqrizi (1364-1442) in AD 1155, the founder of the Persian Sufi Hyderi sect, left his cell in a monastery in the mountains near Neyshaur, in the Khorasan region of north-eastern Iran, and went out for a walk. Discovering a plant standing unwithered by the blazing sun, he grew curious and wondered how it withstood the desiccating heat, so he cut a few leaves and chewed on them as he went on his way. Usually a taciturn man, he returned in a fickle frame of mind, with a smile on this face. Swearing his fellow monks to secrecy, he told them what he had discovered. Thereafter, it is said, he remained in a capricious mood until his death sixty-six years later. What he had purportedly discovered was a drug from a common plant. The plant was cannabis.

(Booth, 2004, p. 15)

It is beyond the scope of this section to provide full coverage of the history of cannabis, for a more detailed explanation see Martin Booth in Cannabis: A History. As for its name, “Cannabis is the generic name for hemp, an adaptive and highly successful annual found growing throughout the temperate and tropical zones of the world” (Booth, 2004, p. 15). The origins of cannabis are debated, but many studies suggest that it evolved in the temperate climates of central Asia, close to the Irtysh River which flows from Mongolia into the western Siberian lowlands near the Gobi Desert in China’s Xinjiang province, north of Tibet (Booth, 2004). According to Stanford (2016), “The origins of agriculture and civilisation itself are linked to cannabis, and all archaeologists agree that cannabis was grown by our first ancestors to begin farming in Asia”. Whilst Abel (1980) suggests that marijuana, hemp or cannabis is humanities oldest crop, sown for more than 12,000 years and potentially up to 30,000 years ago. As for the terms used (cannabis, hemp and marijuana) there are differences between them, with the names related to specific parts of the same plant. Stanford (2016) recognises that there continues to be some confusion about the difference between the three terms, which all come from the same plant species; the scientifically Latin termed Cannabis Sativa. Additionally, various varieties such as Cannabis Indica are also the same species, originally bred in India. As for which part of the plant they come from, from a medical and recreational perspective, most of the cannabis varieties used are cross-breeds from both indica and sativa varieties (Stanford, 2016). Stanford clarifies that “according to US law, hemp is the stalks, stems and sterilized seeds of cannabis sativa, and marijuana is the leaves, flowers and viable seeds of cannabis sativa”. Thus, in the paper the three terms, cannabis, hemp and marijuana are often inter-changed.

Medical cannabis

It’s a strange thing when you make nature illegal”.

(Joe Rogan, Pot Monk, 2018)

Bone and Seddon (2016, p. 58) note, “The global prohibition of cannabis cultivation, supply and possession might be considered to present an insurmountable barrier to the full exploration of the therapeutic potential and public health benefits of medicinal cannabis consumption. Despite this, examples of innovative approaches have emerged around the world, although some jurisdictions, notably the UK, have provided less fertile ground for them to flourish in”. Throughout the twentieth century the use of marijuana has often been driven by its euphoric effects rather than its potential medical benefits. Consequently, the psychological and behavioural effects of marijuana have often been the concern for public officials (Joy et al., 1999). Mack and Joy (2000) suggest that the use of medical marijuana from a scientific perspective has often been masked by the drugs legal status. Consequently, debates from opposing fields seem to be discussing a different drug. Furthermore, Mack and Joy (2000) state that this can result in the following statements being presented for either pro users and anti-users. These statements are, according to the California Narcotic Officers (1996, p. 2) association “there are over ten thousand documented studies available that confirm the harmful physical and psychological effects of […] marijuana”. Contrary, pro users could argue that, “the cannabis plant (marijuana) […] [has] therapeutic benefits and could ease the suffering of millions of persons with various illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, chronic pain, and other maladies” (Mathre, 1997, p. 1).

Be it in within the academic sphere or popular culture and media, debates regarding the medical benefits of cannabis differ. More so, there is every chance that people will bring to the debate their own bias and personal experiences and opinions in relation to cannabis. Importantly, there is scientific and social research exploring the medical and social impacts of cannabis. Bone and Seddon (2016, p. 59) in their paper, employing a human rights perspective, seeking to open dialogue, suggest, “to rethink drug policies in a more thoroughgoing and potentially radical way, so that a more fully public health approach to the issue of the therapeutic use of cannabis can be developed which is not constricted by the drug prohibition paradigm”. The authors further note, “a more expansive conception of health, in contrast, appreciating both internalist and externalist views, could lead to a public heath approach which more effectively balances individual and collective interests” (Bone and Seddon, 2016, p. 59). For now, the arguments for and against are likely to continue as new research form either side of the debate emerges. From a UK perspective, it is worth noting that the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board noted that in 2016 the UK was the main producer and exporter (mainly to the USA) of a cannabis-based medicine named Sativex. The drug is used to treat muscle stiffness and spasms in people with multiple sclerosis. Sativex, which the Home Office do not define as cannabis, is available throughout the UK but only provided free on the NHS in Wales (BBC News, 2018a). It is not possible for this paper to discuss all the potential pros and cons of medical cannabis in relation to the many medical debates that exist. What is important is to recognise that some countries in western society are beginning to accept the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and more so; some locations are now allowing the use of cannabis for personal, recreational purposes. With this, the landscape of cannabis attitudes has the potential to change.

Cannabis attitudes and consumption

Cannabis is the single most versatile herbal remedy, and the most useful plant on Earth. No other single plant contains as wide a range of medically active herbal constituents.

(Dr Ethan Russo, Chronic Relief, 2012)

In 2016, cannabis remained the world’s most commonly used drug. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (2018) in 2016, the number of cannabis users were 192m. Of that figure, 13.8m people were aged between 15 and 16 years old. The UNODC states that the global number of cannabis users continues to rise, increasingly by roughly 16 per cent in the decade ending 2016. Using data from the UNODC the top 30 countries for cannabis consumption are presented in Table I.

Interestingly, many of the countries listed in Table I do not have legalised marijuana laws. However, as highlighted for the countries in Table I, cannabis consumption is common. In the case of this paper, the UK is placed 26th with 6.2 per cent of the population using marijuana (Haines, 2017a; Misulonas, 2017). Global attitudes to marijuana are mixed, but greater acceptance towards recreational and medial uses and for cultivational purposes are growing. Table II presents a list of countries open to the legalisation and or use of marijuana for such purposes (the table is not extensive to all countries globally). Table II focuses on countries with more liberal attitudes to cannabis. However, countries such as South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have much harder stances towards cannabis, including significant prison sentences and even the death penalty (Hanna, 2018). Table II does not present a comprehensive overview of the countries in Table I. Instead, the purpose of Table II is to provide the reader with an overview of countries with more liberal attitudes and laws towards cannabis consumption. The focus is on the three main contexts in which cannabis is often considered within law, it is recreational and medical uses and the cultivation of the plant.

Cannabis, legalisation and tourism

There should be availability [of marijuana] under appropriate circumstances.

(Hillary Clinton, Durando, 2014)

Whilst attitudes are changing in western society, the use of cannabis is often left to the fringes, as it is frequently categorised as a deviant leisure activity, be it as a private activity in the home, or as a leisure experience when travelling to locations where it is legal (Becker, 1953; Goode 1970; Rojek, 2000), or more leniently accepted. Cannabis discussions can often be located within academic tourism literature which explores social behaviour amongst marginalised groups, such as hippies and musicians (Becker, 1963; Merton, 1968; Rojek, 1999), or other non-institutionalized forms of tourism such as the backpacker community and drifters (Cohen, 1973; Riley, 1988; Scheyvens, 2002). As noted by Belhassen et al. (2007) taking a stigmatised approach to cannabis from a tourism perspective, renders its position as a drug-tourism phenomenon, one which can be defined as a “[…] phenomenon by which the tourist experience involved all of the awareness, the consumption, and the usage of drugs which are considered to be illegal, or illegitimate in either the visited destination or the tourist’s country of origin” (Uriely and Belhassen, 2005, p. 239). Such an outlook to cannabis is appropriate depending on the opinion and attitudes of different communities and nation states. However, the consumption of and the growing consumer market across the west, particularly the America, suggests that the attitudes towards cannabis are no longer what they used to be. So much so that studies are focusing less on the deviant nature of cannabis and more towards a process of normalisation (Parker et al., 1998; Peretti-Watel and Lorente, 2004). Previous literature in which cannabis is discussed as a normalised activity is often located within music leisure activities, including nightclubbing, raves and festivals (Korf, 2002). The process of normalisation is significant and explored later in this paper. The cannabis tourism landscape is changing, and western attitudes and importantly laws are becoming more liberal. All of this is having a significant impact on social attitudes towards cannabis, its production, consumption and significantly its market value. A recent article by Kovacevich (2018) in Forbes explores cannabis tourism as the next big thing. In the article, Deidra Bagdasarian co-founder of Ganja Goddess Getaway (a wellness retreat designed for women who already love cannabis) as well as creator of “Bliss Edibles” (one of the premier cannabis confectioneries in the USA) says “Cannabis attracts everyone, from lawyers to truckers”. However, from a leisure perceptive, even though the market for consumption is growing, with a diverse range of consumer products and experience available, “because the legalised part of the industry is so new, many states simply have not addressed tourism” (Kovacevich, 2018) in the USA. The Netherlands has often been a popular location for cannabis consumption, and a useful example when discussing cannabis consumption and tourism. Despite the range of coffee shops which sell cannabis, the drug is illegal, but authorities turn a blind eye to those in possession of 5 g or less, whilst venders can store a maximum of 500 g (Haines, 2017b). However, politicians are constantly debating the laws, for example, Hague, a North Sea coast city in Western Netherlands have tightened laws by outlawing the smoking of cannabis in the city centre. Due to resident complaints, 13 designated places including the major shopping areas and central railway station are to be cannabis smoke free zones (Rizzo, 2018). Kuper (2018) notes that “it’s a misconception that the Dutch state is pro-pot […] Rather, the Dutch state is pragmatic. It prefers to keep risky activities out in the open where they can be regulated (and taxed), whereas other countries push them underground into zones of disorder”.

In 2013, the South American country Uruguay became the first nation in modern times to legalise cannabis for recreational use. Legal marijuana is carefully controlled by a small number of chemists who then distribute high quality affordable products to the market (Cockburn, 2018). The following points are discussed by Arsenault (2018), who offers an insight into the current state of Uruguay’s cannabis market. Since its legalisation, progress has been positive with some logistical challenges remaining (according to Martin Rodriguez, Director of Uruguay’s cannabis regulatory authority). Rodriguez said that the model Uruguay applies is different from other regions, but the objectives are similar. Selected pharmacies are used as dispensaries and no prescription is required for citizens. Citizens can purchase up to 40 g per month (with a price of $2.50 per gram). At present, only two companies have a license to produce commercial cannabis and more than 22,000 Uruguayans have registered as purchasers (in a population of 3.5m). At present, this control of the industry presents some challenges, such as ensuring there is enough cannabis to meet the demand, as harvesting enough to supply the market is causing some difficulty. Alternatively, Uruguayans can register to cannabis clubs to grow their own marijuana. Such cooperatives must have less than 45 members and are limited to no more than 450 g of harvest per member per year. At the time of writing there were said to be 83 cannabis clubs and more than 8,200 registered home growers. Foreigners (or tourists) are not able to purchase cannabis in the country, thus the black market continues to function (Arsenault, 2018). Another current issue is the cash flow related to the cannabis market as some large banks are apprehensive to deal with the industry, fearing running afoul with US financial regulators. However, this issue is looking less significant as other countries, such as Canada and US states legalise cannabis. Again, many of the supply approaches discussed here are measures considered and incorporated into the UK scenario.

After Uruguay legalised cannabis, Canada became the first G7 nation to also legalise cannabis for recreational use. “The Bank of Montreal became the first major bank in Canada to lead an equity financing deal with a legal Cannabis producer” (Arsenault, 2018). With a powerful backing sector and strong ties to the USA, it is likely that financial regulators will take no action against various banks, including those in Uruguay. Uruguay have made significant strides, and whilst challenges exist, their model to cannabis legalisation has been seen favourably. John Walsh (Co-director of drug policy for the Washington Office on Latin America) suggested “if you start strict, it’s easier to loosen up later” (Arsenault, 2018). US president Richard Nixon in 1969 announced “a war on drugs”, with the aim to eradicate drugs and to imprison drug offenders. However, after more than $1 trillion spent on the drug war, attitudes and approaches are also shifting in the USA with various states relaxing and amending their cannabis laws (Cockburn, 2018). At present, 31 States and DC offer legal medical Marijuana and 9 States and DC of legal marijuana for recreational purposes (ProCon, 2018). The USA has seen growth in the cannabis market value. According to data published by Hexa Research, the cannabis market in 2016 was valued at $5.44bn and is expected to reach $19.48bn by 2024. This strong growth during the forecasted period is said to be due to the plant’s multiple medical benefits as well as the fast-paced legalisation currently underway in the USA (Market Watch, 2018). One US state that has seen great benefits for cannabis tourism is Colorado. According to a report from the state’s department of revenue, figures suggest that cannabis tourism has grown 51 per cent since 2014, with 6.5m cannabis tourists visiting in 2016. Estimates suggest the numbers will continue to grow in the coming years (Kovacevich, 2018). Themed approaches are also popular with “wine and weed” tours popular in California. Here party buses allow smoking passengers (sealed off from the driver). There are also “puff and paint” events featuring cannabis tasting sessions, luxury cannabis getaways and much more (Kovacevich, 2018; Taylor, 2015).

In Canada, cannabis possession first became a crime in 1923 but medical use has been legal since 2001. However, since the change in law (in 2018), Canadians can now buy and consume cannabis legally. While some groups (such as Conservative politicians and indigenous groups) opposed the new law, Prime Minister (at the time) Justin Trudeau tweeted that until now, “it’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits” (BBC News, 2018c). Research by Osborne and Fogel (2016) examined the perspectives of 41 Canadian adults (who were cannabis users) and their attitudes to decriminalisation and legalisation of the drug. Their findings highlighted that most participants strongly favoured the legalisation of cannabis. The reasons identified where prohibition is unjust, economic benefits, reducing violent crime associated with the drug trade, reducing the cost of the criminal justice system, increased safety and reducing the stigma associated with cannabis use (Osborne and Fogel, 2016, p. 12).

The BBC News (2018b) offers some early insights into the Canadian approach to cannabis. The Canadian approach seems to be like that of Uruguay. Canadians will be able to purchase cannabis and cannabis oil which are grown by licensed producers at selected retail locations, as well as from federally licensed online producers. Legally, adults will be able to possess up to 30 g of dried cannabis in public. Additionally, residents will be able to grow up to four plants at home. Local provinces will be allowed to set their own regulations of how it is sold and where it can be smoked. As for marketing, set guidelines for plain packaging with little branding and strict health warnings have been set by the federal government. Furthermore, other restrictions will be put in place, such as the targeting of young people, promotion through sponsorship and using popular celebrities, characters or animals in advertisements to promote cannabis. It is suggested that people caught with more than 30 g and more than four plants (per household) could face up to 14-year prison sentences (BBC News, 2018c). It could be suggested that such a tough stance on breaking the legal laws allows the Canadian Government to implement a tough approach on the market. Potentially, like Uruguay, start tough and then loosen up and or manage the market and laws as time goes on. The Canadian approach to the “herbal tourist” is not overtly clear at this early stage, as federal legalisation allows provinces to establish their own systems, distributions, tracking, testing, taxation and legal age consumption (McMillan, 2018). As provinces will be writing their own rules, tourists’ ability to smoke cannabis has yet to be determined in any significant detail (Halperin, 2017). However, as reported by Porter (2018), Canada has a history of cannabis users (illegally), with the drug being popular in the country (pre-legalisation). Now, Canada can develop new legal tourism markets, driven by cannabis opportunities. At present it is not evident how individual states will operate from an international tourism perspective, but for the local domestic market new services will begin to emerge. For example, cannabis lounges are become more common. Cannabis food classes are also available. The focus on cannabis-infused catering is going mainstream to the extent that the national association of food service business, Restaurants Canada, are to host a seminar focussed on cannabis cooking. There has also been growth in cannabis tour companies and accommodation themed around “bud-and-breakfasts” (Porter, 2018).

A movement for legalising cannabis in the UK

I think that marijuana should be legalized. I think the only reason it isn’t is because politicians who smoked it when they were young men or young women just don’t have the courage when they become politicians to legalize it.

(Richard Branson, Huffington, 2014)

At present cannabis is categorised as a class B drug and possession can incur “penalties of up to three months’ imprisonment and or a fine at magistrates level, on indictment, the penalty is up to five years’ imprisonment and or an unlimited fine” (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addition, 2017, p. 4). In Table I, it was presented that 6.2 per cent of the UK population use marijuana, whist the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addition (2017) suggests that cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit drug. In young adults (16–34 years old) 11.3 per cent used cannabis (15.5 per cent within the male population and 7.2 per cent within the female population). According to statistics from the Home Office Crime Survey for England and Wales (2018), cannabis was the most commonly used drug in the 2017/2018 with 7.2 per cent of adults aged 16–59 having used it in the last year (around 2.4m people). An article by Cotton (2019a) suggested that “59% of the UK population would support the legalisation of cannabis, with 75% of those asked saying they would be willing to take it if prescribed by a doctor”. At present the law in the UK for recreational and cultivational purposes is illegal. However, Home Secretary Sajid Javid noted that cannabis-based medicines will be available by Autumn 2018. On Thursday 11 October 2018, the UK Government announced that medicinal cannabis would be legal (Gov, 2018). This was driven by high-profile media cases in which young children severally effected by epilepsy were required to travel internationally to seek support for the use of medical cannabis to treat their conditions (BBC News, 2018b). In response to the medical legalisation Sajid Javid offered the following comments: “Having been moved by heartbreaking cases involving sick children, it was important to me that we took swift action to help those who can benefit from medicinal cannabis. We have now delivered on our promise and specialist doctors will have the option to prescribe these products where there is a real need. I’m grateful to the expert panel – who have been considering cases in the interim – and to those who’ve worked hard to bring about this change at the earliest possible opportunity”. From the 1 November 2018 onwards, specialist doctors will be allowed to prescribe patients medical cannabis.

This recent shift in attitude by the UK is contrary to the stance taken around the 1970s when cannabis was outlawed amid fears that it served as a “gateway” to other drugs, often used as a popular debate against the legalisation of marijuana (Busby, 2018). Former Labour Leader Gordon Brown upgraded cannabis from a class C drug to Class B in 2009. During the recent high profile medical cases many people have spoken out regarding the UK’s stance on cannabis. For example, William Hague (Former Leader of the Conservative Party) said that British law is not only “inappropriate, ineffective and utterly out of date”, further suggesting that the UK Government should look to Canada, who have now legalised Cannabis for recreational use in addition to medical use (Cockburn, 2018). At the time of writing, health secretary Jeremy Hunt (conservative party) admitted the government had not got the law right on cannabis (Cockburn, 2018). Margaret Thatcher’s free-market think tank recently called on the government to legalise cannabis. They stressed that Britain’s black cannabis market is worth £2.6bn annually, with around 255 tonnes sold to more than 3m people in 2017, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). Further arguing that the UK could generate £1bn from additional taxes and savings across other public services (Kollewe, 2018). Chris Snowdon (Head of Lifestyle Economic at the IEA) suggested that it was a “high time for reform of cannabis policy in the UK”, referring to the reforms being made by the USA and Canada (Kollewe, 2018).

An article by Kelsey (2018) explores cannabis clubs in the UK, of which there are apparently around 140. Of the 140 it is thought that only around 25 or so are active. People involved meet up in warehouses or empty cafes. The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme took the police and crime commissioner (PCC) for drug policy to meet people from three of the clubs to explore their opinions on the ongoing legalisation debate. The programme contacted all 39 PCCs in England and Wales (who oversee police forces) to enquire about their respective positions on cannabis clubs and their opinions towards decriminalisation. In total, 33 replied, saying they did not believe criminalisation was necessary with a further six suggesting it was not a focus for them or they were open to discussions on the topic, whilst 16 were actively opposed to decriminalisation (Kelsey, 2018). Keith Beecham (CEO of the Tourism Board for Visit Jersey) recently suggested that the ideal way to boost tourism numbers would be to legalise cannabis for recreational use (raise billions in tax revenue). Whilst acknowledging that Jersey are a long way from any such implementation, with longstanding ethical and legal questions, Beecham, notes, “I would suggest carrying out a consultation and review and see where we end up before we find an appropriate way forward”, further suggesting, “I think it would be short-sighted not to look into it” (Waugh, 2019). The UK Government party, The Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) champion the legalisation of cannabis. During the 2017, UK general election, the Lib Dems as a party policy pledged to legalise cannabis and allow the drug to be sold on the high street (Hughes, 2017). The party also have a “Let’s Legalise Cannabis” campaign, with the spiel, “Back the Liberal Democrats plan to break the grip of criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis” (Liberal Democrats, 2018). They also published a report entitled “A framework for a regulated market for cannabis in the UK: recommendations from an expert panel”. The panel members consisted Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst, Transform Drug Policy Foundation (Chair); Mike Barton, Chief Constable, Durham Constabulary; Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director, Release; Tom Lloyd, Chair of the National Cannabis Coalition and former Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police; Professor Fiona Measham, Professor of Criminology, Durham University; Professor David Nutt, Founder of Drug Science and former Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs; Professor Harry Sumnall, Professor of Substance Use, Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University (See Rolles et al., n.d.). The report covers many significant issues regarding a potential legalised cannabis market. However, the report does not consider cannabis from a tourism perspective, be it domestically or internationally.

The financial potential for the UK has often been highlighted when discussing the legalisation of cannabis. Managing Director at investment firm Cannacord Genuity and a Leading Cannabis Industry Analyst Neil Marouka recently stressed that the UK was “absolutely missing out on a huge opportunity” to exploit the cannabis market for generating tax revenues, and this leaves Britain falling behind other countries (Chapman, 2018). Other countries across Europe continue to implement legalised approaches. The future size of the European market is not easy to predict with precision according to Stephen Murphy (co-founder of Prohibition Partners, a consultancy firm that gathers intelligence and insights into the continent’s cannabis industry). However, Murphy said, “there is no other industry like it in the world”, with some estimates suggesting that the industry could go from 0 to £49bn in a decade (Chapman, 2018).

Scenario methodology

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.

(Robert Mckee, Story, 2015)

This research takes a scenario planning approach as its methodology. Ramirez et al. (2015, p. 71) suggest that “scenarios are understood to be a small bespoke set of structured conceptual systems of equally plausible future context, often presented as narrative descriptions, manufactured for someone and for a purpose […]”. Ramirez et al. (2015, p. 82) further note that such an approach to research can attract a wider audience, noting, “scenarios have moved on from an object of research by scholars into a research methodology scholars now use to produce ‘interesting research’, manifesting epistemological issues that the broader futures field has grappled with”. In this research, to present a scenario of the future, a narrative has been created. The importance of narrative writing as a method is recognised by Lindgren and Bandhold (2009), who identify the significance in telling a story to the reader. Humans create stories to help them understand life, to create meaning to their lives, to establish order and to ensure we can establish spaces to live collectively and to help us consider where we are now and where we want to be in the future. According to Harari (2015, p. 170), “meaning is created when many people weave together a common network of stories”. We partake in socially accepted behaviours because others around us do so as well, our families, friends, neighbours and people from other cultures. “People constantly reinforce each other’s beliefs in a self-perpetuating loop. Each round of mutual confirmation tightens the web of meaning further” (Harari, 2015, pp. 170-171). Harari (2015, p. 171) further states that “[…] over decades and centuries the web of meaning unravels and a new web is spun in its place”. Further suggesting that to study history involves watching the “[…] spinning and unravelling of these webs, and to realise that what seems to people in one age the most important thing in life becomes utterly meaningless to their descendants” (Harari, 2015, p. 171). For this research, writing a future narrative aims to present a continuation of current webs (current trends) and how they could unravel into the future, offering a potential insight into what could come next. The topic of this research, the legalisation of cannabis is likely to be deemed provocative for some. But as Yeoman (2012) suggests, whilst narratives should aim for credibility, they are also likely to be challenging.

The challenge for scholars researching the future is presenting plausible and valid depictions of the future. Fahey and Randall (1998, p. 9) stress the need that “plausible evidence should indicate that the projected narrative could take place (it is possible), demonstrate how it could take place (it is credible) and illustrate its implications for the organisations (it is relevant)”. Additionally, Lee (2012) acknowledges that authors should aim to integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines, taking a multi-discipline approach, drawing on data and information from the hard sciences and social sciences to offer predictive scenarios that recognise the complex structures of society. Social scientists who apply a multiple method, mixed methods and or serial method to research commonly apply a pragmatic approach to research (pragmatism often viewed as the philosophical partner to mixed methods). A pragmatic approach offers a method to researchers where the plurality of methods and multiple philosophies are embraced (Maxcy, 2003). Tashakkori and Creswell (2007) note that a pragmatic approach provides a “third alternative” for using a mixed method approach, applied by researchers when qualitative and quantitative methods are not considered sufficient to attain research data. In applying a pragmatic approach, the researcher can combine different research philosophies with the aim of finding common ground (e.g. Datta, 1994; Maxcy, 2003; Tashakkori and Teddlie, 1998, 2003). The extrapolation approach to explore current trends is the method used to add plausibility to the narrative. The extrapolation approach provides the researcher with a method where the exploration of past and current trends is considered and unravelled into a future scenario (Thompson, 1979). According to Jungermann (1985), forward inferences are common, as this approach takes a more regular way of thinking about the future, where the researcher sees past and current trends as more parallel throughout time. Thus, this research takes a pragmatic approach by embracing the diverse views of both qualitative and quantitative research, from constructivism to positivism position. Research explores past and current trends via secondary data sources, from academic disciplines (from the social sciences and scientific studies), political debates, numerous industry research-based data and other newsworthy sources. This approach allowed the researcher to explore multiple areas of interest to present a balanced scenario of the future.

A potential future UK cannabis tourism market

The following presents a written narrative, the story fashioned to establish an idea, a vision in the readers mind of a potential future cannabis industry in the UK. The narrative, as noted in the methodology draws on current knowledge, approaches and trends in the current global cannabis market to justify and add validity to the ideas presented here. Additionally, it presents novel approaches that focus on the potential for a cannabis tourism market in the UK. A market that considers the potential of distributing and selling cannabis throughout the UK, and its consumption by domestic and international tourists. As noted, this market is not suggested to be the dominant tourism market in the UK. What is being proposed is a method of integrating cannabis into the UK with the intention of encouraging greater movement of tourists (domestic and international) around the counties. This scenario is not aiming to explore when in the future this could take place. The focus in this research is on the approach, time is not the central interest, as the approach could be applied at any time in the (near or distant) future. However, using dates can provide a more engaging narrative for the reader and to present a more conclusive picture of the future. So, in the case of this scenario, the author has decided to place the scenario around the year 2035 (providing the narrative with a starting point).

The scenario: cannabis county competitive strategy (CCCS)

The year 2040, we are now entering category stage 2. But let us go back a few years first. In 2035 the UK Government announced the legalisation of cannabis for leisurely use (availability would be from 2037). For the previous two decades, there had been debates surrounding the use of cannabis and early breakthroughs came in 2018 when the government made medical cannabis legal for severe medical cases. This set-in motion the gradual movement to legalise cannabis for leisure consumption. Having spent time exploring the approaches to cannabis production and distribution around the globe, the UK Government decided to take a somewhat novel approach. It decided that it would ensure that the legalisation came with a competitive edge, in its CCCS. Figure 1 offers a visual model, providing an illustration for the potential production and distribution of cannabis in the UK:

  • The UK Government takes complete control of cannabis production in the UK. At the plantation centres, government produces and regulates 50 different strains of cannabis (in both plant and oil form).

  • Cannabis is transported from plantation centres to distribution warehouses. Here appropriate quality control checks are performed. Cannabis products are then appropriately packaged and distributed to vendors (public and private).

  • Application of the CCCS: in the UK, there are 48 counties in England, 33 in Scotland, 13 in Wales and 6 in Northern Ireland – 100 in total. Every county in the UK can only sell one strain of cannabis (over a three-year period). Thus, out of the 100 counties, only two at any one time had the same cannabis strain on sale. The CCCS implemented by the government was to trial an approach with the intention to encourage movement within the cannabis leisure and tourism market. Such an approach aimed to increase tourism numbers throughout the UK counties (both domestic and international tourism). Cannabis tourists are required to visit alternative counties in the UK if they are interested in trying the range of cannabis strains. Each county in the UK, as noted, could hold onto their cannabis strain for three years, after which the government would reallocate strains around the UK, thus to ensure competitive diversity.

  • Public and private vendors wishing to sell cannabis required a licence and all their cannabis products would have to be purchased via a government cannabis regulator and distributor.

  • People wanting to purchase the cannabis would have a Cannabis Users Card (CUC) which would be scanned on every purchase. Uniquely, tourists were also able to attain a Travellers Cannabis Users Cards (TCUC).

Importantly, to manage the introduction of cannabis to local communities, counties had to allocate specific cannabis zones within towns and city centres. Any other forms or personal production and selling would remain illegal. Thus, tougher prison sentences on people producing and supplying cannabis outside the governments’ scheme would be introduced. With better quality cannabis being supplied by government at a better price than the illegal market, users would prefer to purchase though approved government licensed sellers.

There were some key challenges in managing the sale of cannabis and keeping the CCCS functioning without different strains making their way across counties. One such measure was to limit the amount of Cannabis purchased per person. People were allowed to purchase 20 g a month within their own county (clearly stated on their CUC). When purchasing cannabis from other counties UK residents were limited to up to another 10 g (with a maximum purchase of 3 g when in another other county), again, encouraging locals to travel. Whilst for tourists, the numbers were different. Tourists were able to purchase up to 20 g a month (on their TCUC), but no more than 3 g per county in any one month, again, encouraging people to move around the UK. If customers preferred to purchase cannabis oil for recreational use, then equivalent amounts would be available in oil. This helped the government regulate usage and offer support and guidance if deemed necessary.

We are now moving into category stage 2 (the year 2040). So far, the initiative has been a great success across the UK. Whilst not all counties were required to enter the initiative (as countries were allowed to decide if they want to join), the destinations that did buy into the cannabis culture have seen a steady increase in both domestic and international travellers. Significantly, tourism numbers have increased, thus revenue for local cannabis markets is positively increasing. To further enhance their reputation and desirability various counties have coincided the legalisation of cannabis with various themes, including cannabis movie narratives, medical benefits, 60 s hippie culture, cannabis and art, and innovative ideas based on local county culture and cannabis have also been established. The continued appeal of cannabis social clubs remains (CSC); CSCs existed pre-legalisation (illegally). Others have set up “country cannabis cafe crawls”, whilst locations have further engaged consumers with apps to promote and share their experiences of smoking cannabis across the UK, further promoting, the government’s aim – to promote cross-county tourism driven by cannabis consumption. The initiative is three years young, and there is still a lot to learn. The government has seen large profits in tax revenues, there has been an increase in UK cafe culture, and an increase in local entrepreneurial businesses benefiting from the legalisation. With initial signs being highly positive, other countries are beginning to consider similar approaches to their own cannabis markets.

Cannabis culture and tourism

It is not our difference that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

(Audre Lorde, Day, 2017)

Sajid Javid on the day of legalising medical cannabis stressed “[…] today’s announcement does not pave the way towards legalising cannabis for recreational use. The penalties for unauthorised supply and possession will remain unchanged” (Gov, 2018). Whilst this suggests that for now, recreational use of cannabis will remain illegal, this should not mean that continued discussions surrounding its future potential should not continue to be debated. The use of hallucinogenic drugs pre-dates our society, with ancient civilisations using cannabis for religions and medicinal purposes (Armijos et al., 2014). However, contemporary attitudes vary significantly, and the current stigmatized attitudes play a significant role in ensuring cannabis remains within the “rebellious” peripheries of society. In more recent times governmental attitudes and laws have often been the driving force behind people’s attitudes towards cannabis and its overall acceptance in society. Since the hippie 60s culture, laws prohibiting cannabis have played a significant role in negatively stigmatising the use of the drug, and such a stigma is difficult to break down, and this is especially the case for the UK. There is a key issue here that needs to be considered. Ideally, there needs to be an approved culture and acceptance of cannabis for a country to integrate legalisation. Take Canada again as an example. As discussed by Porter (2018), the country prior to the legalisation already had an existing culture as Canadians smoked a lot of cannabis. According to statistics by the National Census Bureau, 42.5 per cent of Canadians have tried the drug (Porter, 2018), and this is only the number who owned up to smoking, in all likelihood, the number is significantly higher. There was already high use of the drug and wider social acceptance of cannabis. The owner of the Hotbox Lounge in Toronto’s Kensington Market, who goes by the name of Abi Roach noted that having legalised cannabis, the next stage “[…] is to reform the law to the point that cannabis is going to be a normal part of our lives, whether we choose to consume it or not” (Porter, 2018). Interestingly, others believe that the legalisation of cannabis will not see a dramatic rise in the use of the drug. As noted by Geraint Osborne (sociology professor at the University of Alberta who has studied cannabis use for 13 years), there might be an initial surge in smoking cannabis for novelty reasons, but this will likely decrease over time. Andrew Hathaway (a University of Guelph sociology professor who has also studied cannabis use) pointed out that the governments regulations which codify a person’s monthly use (30 g) are potentially a method of suppressing and managing the use of cannabis rather than encouraging it (Porter, 2018).

The driving message here, countries considering the legalisation of cannabis must consider the overall cannabis culture present in the country. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who decriminalised cannabis is leader of the Liberal party, thus, holding ideologies of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy that embraces liberty and equality. For a country to accept the legalisation of cannabis, there needs to be acceptance, cannabis needs to be normalised. Normalisation was a term coined by Parker and his colleagues, in studies exploring the use of drugs in adolescents. In later work, Parker (2005, pp. 206-207) offered six indicators of normalisation; first, increasing access and availability; second, increasing prevalence of drug use; third, increasingly tolerant attitudes towards drug use among both users and non-users; fourth, expectations among current abstainers regarding future initiation of drug use; fifth, the “cultural accommodation” of drug cultures in film, TV and music; and sixth, more liberal policy shifts (Parker, 2005, pp. 206-207). These six indicators offer an insight into the normalisation of cannabis in society. From the discussions above, this paper has identified how normalisation or cannabis is taking form, not only globally, but also within the UK. As trends show, our global home is showing more liberal and accepted attitudes towards cannabis. If these trends continue, then there is every potential that the UK might reconsider its stance of recreational use. If this is the case, this paper is asking the question, what about the potential for a cannabis tourism market? Despite resistance to cannabis, attitudes are changing, with Paul North (Director of External Affairs at Volteface, a think tank who come up with alternative drug policies) suggesting, “we are a lot closer than people think to following Canada’s lead”. Mr North projected, “We will certainly see a regulated cannabis market in the UK in the near future” (Chambers, 2018). If a cannabis culture does exist, and cannabis is legalised, then new opportunities will certainly expose themselves for tourism in the UK. In 2015, Colorado (offering legal cannabis) made $2.6bn off cannabis tourists and this for Cotton (2019a) means the UK could earn significant economic benefits from tourism if cannabis was legalised, whilst CNBS (2019) suggests that in Colorado, “cannabis tourism has given rise to tax revenue for governments, great opportunity for businesses, as well as challenges for travellers and local authorities”:

One of the first things that became apparent about legal recreational cannabis is that it would be a huge attraction for tourists.

(CNBS, 2019)

Aligning tourism and cannabis will inevitably have impacts on destinations. Thus, it is necessary for tourism stakeholders, governments (local and national) policy makers, marketeers and cannabis tourism suppliers to work towards a market that is not driven by economic benefits but embodies a mindset that the cannabis tourism industry can provide social-cultural benefits. To develop a cannabis culture that is more widely appreciated, accepted and accommodated, stakeholders would have to consider the types of services and products it would make available to tourists. As this would influence the type of consumers that are likely to participate in cannabis tourism. With continued legalisation in countries like Canada and in US states, overtime, society will amass a greater understanding into the types of consumer experiences that create more positive cannabis tourism cultures. As noted by Cotton (2019b) “If the UK is to legalise recreational cannabis, it must be done carefully and alongside a detailed programme of education. In the UK, we are in an enviable position and can hopefully learn from Canada’s experience and make a fully informed decision after observing Canada’s cannabis market for several years”. It is, therefore, recommended that future research should continue to observe the relationship between cannabis and tourism. Ideally, research should aim to yield evidence-based data that expose the (positive and negative) impacts of cannabis tourism on culture. With this information, stakeholders will be better informed of how to establish cannabis tourism industries that support the social-cultural environments in which they exist; if cannabis is to become legalised.

Conclusion

The aim of this paper was to present a narrative scenario of a future UK tourism cannabis industry. By exploring current global trends and changing attitudes towards cannabis, this paper presented a future scenario in which the UK could potentially establish a cannabis industry that promotes domestic and international tourism across different counties in the UK. Whilst countries like Uruguay, USA and Canada have begun to legalise cannabis for not only medical and cultivational purposes, but also recreational use, the potential for establishing a tourism cannabis market is often overlooked or provided little attention. However, data reveal that globally cannabis consumptions are popular. Thus, if countries are considering allowing the controlled consumption of cannabis for local residents, then why not consider a controlled and managed market for tourism, as the data suggest, demand exists.

As legalisation is still in the early phases in many countries, benefits and consequences are still too early to impartially measure. Acknowledging some significant global shifts in laws and approaches, this paper explored a potential future cannabis market in the UK. The UK witnessed some significant discussions in the legalisation of cannabis recently, driven by high profile cases surrounding children and the use of medical cannabis to support various medical conditions. Consequently, the UK, in 2018 changed its laws, allowing the use of cannabis for “serious medical conditions”. However, it was also noted that the medical legalisation would not lead to recreational legalisation, at least for now. However, the UK has potentially inadvertently set-in motion the potential for greater normalisation of cannabis amongst users and nonusers. In the long term, this could lead to more liberal attitudes towards cannabis amongst the population, especially if wider society begins to recognise that cannabis does have medical benefits. Thus, could more liberal attitudes over time, both globally, and in the UK mean that in the future, the UK could legalise cannabis for recreational purposes?

If more countries continue to legalise cannabis and, consequently, significant benefits (social and financial) are realised, then there is every potential that the UK could follow suit. Significantly, this paper also identified a lack of tourism legislation in destinations that have legalised cannabis for residents, even though demand exists. Thus, this paper offers original ideas in exploring a future cannabis market in the UK, one where regional tourism is considered. The paper presents an approach that encourages domestic and international tourists to engage with the cannabis industry by navigating a well-managed, local approach to supplying cannabis in the UK. The author offers a clear written narrative to engage the audience. The narrative suggests that the government should take control of the production, distribution and management of the cannabis market, in which the 100 counties of the UK could opt into. It is worth stressing that this paper is not advocating and or supporting the legalisation of cannabis. Instead, this paper is stressing, if the UK did consider legalisation in the future then it should seriously consider the tourism market and the potential for cannabis to draw tourists into and around the UK. Especially seeing that there are large numbers of cannabis users globally, many of whom are in key tourism generating regions for the UK. It could present a range of market opportunities if implemented and managed appropriately. Especially if tourists are further encouraged to travel beyond the traditional UK tourist hotspots, such as London, and to explore regions of the UK that are often deemed less attractive to domestic and international visitors:

When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.

(Bob Marley)

Figures

Cannabis production and distribution model

Figure 1

Cannabis production and distribution model

Top countries for cannabis consumption

Country Consumption
 1. Iceland 18.3% of the population use marijuana
 2. USA 16.3% of the population use marijuana
 3. Nigeria 14.3% of the population use marijuana
 4. Canada 12.7% of the population use marijuana
 5. Chile 11.83% of the population use marijuana
 6. France 11.1% of the population use marijuana
 7. New Zealand 11% of the population use marijuana
 8. Bermuda 10.9% of the population use marijuana
 9. Australia 10.2% of the population use marijuana
10. Zambia 9.5% of the population use marijuana
11. Uruguay 9.3% of the population use marijuana
12. Italy 9.2% of the population use marijuana
13. Spain 9.2% of the population use marijuana
14. Madagascar 9.1% of the population use marijuana
15. Czech Republic 8.9% of the population use marijuana
16. Israel 8.88% of the population use marijuana
17. St Lucia 8.87% of the population use marijuana
18. Belize 8.45% of the population use marijuana
19. Barbados 8.3% of the population use marijuana
20. The Netherlands 8% of the population use marijuana
21. Greenland 7.6% of the population use marijuana
22. Jamaica 7.21% of the population use marijuana
23. Denmark 6.9% of the population use marijuana
24. Switzerland 6.7% of the population use marijuana
25. Egypt 6.24% of the population use marijuana
26. UK 6.2% of the population use marijuana
27. Ireland 6% of the population use marijuana
28. Estonia 6% of the population use marijuana
29. Bahamas 5.54% of the population use marijuana
30. Sierra Leone 5.42% of the population use marijuana

Country attitudes to marijuana

Country/source Recreational Medical Cultivation
Argentina/(Infobae, 2017) Decimalized Legal Illegal
Australia/(Copeland, 2010) Decriminalised for personal use in the Northern Territory, South Australia, and the Australian Capital Territory Legal at federal level and in all states
Qualifying conditions and other details vary by state
Legal for medical purposes
Austria/(Seshata, 2015) Decriminalised as of January 2016
Possession for personal use
Cannabis-derived drugs Allowed for medical purposes
Belgium/(Anderson, 2017) Decriminalised up to 3 g Cannabis-derived drugs Decriminalised for cultivation of one plant
Canada/(Canada, 2018) Legal Legal Legal
Chile/(Cannabis, 2018a) Decriminalised Legal Legal
Colombia/(Langlois, 2012) Decriminalised up to 22 grams for personal use Legal for medical use. Legal up to twenty plants for personal consumption. No limit for medicinal use and if licensed by the “National Anti-narcotics Council”
Costa Rica/(The Costa Rica News, 2018) Decriminalised Illegal Decriminalised
Croatia / (The High Can, 2018) Decriminalised Legal Illegal
Czech Republic/(Conbiz, 2018) Decriminalised up to 10 grams since 2014 Legal Decriminalised for cultivation of up to five plants. Cultivation for medicinal purposes subject to license legal
Denmark/(Shekshnya, 2018). Illegal for recreational use, however, the law is often unenforced by police. (Declared legal in Freetown but this is unrecognised by Danish authorities) Legal Legal with government license. Licenses issued for medical production only
Finland/(Cannabis, 2018b) Illegal but sometimes not enforced Legal under license Legal for medicinal use only
Georgia/(State Laws, 2018) Decriminalised for possession and consumption Use is legal, but no system for the dispensing of cannabis exists Decriminalised for personal use
Germany/(DW, 2018) Possession illegal, but consumption legal Legal to those with a prescription Legal if permission is given by “Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices”
Israel/(Osborne, 2018) Currently illegal; decriminalisation being considered Legal Licensed medicinal providers only
Italy/(Povoledo, 2018) Decriminalised; allowed for religious usage Legal Illegal
Jamaica/(Margolin, 2018) Decriminalised; legal for Rastafari Legal Legal
Luxembourg/(Walder, 2018) Decriminalised Legal Illegal
Mexico/Janikian (2018) Decriminalised Legal for medical use, THC content below 1% Legal for medical purposes. Decriminalised for personal use
Netherlands/Haines, G. (2017b) Illegal – but use and sale is tolerated in licensed coffeeshops. Possession of up to five grams is decriminalised. Legal Decriminalised up to five plants; plants are generally still destroyed. Home growers can be evicted for one single plant or have their mortgage cancelled
Norway/(Cannabis, 2018c) Illegal (in progress of decriminalisation) Legal Illegal
Peru/(Dunnell, 2018) Decriminalised Legal Illegal
Poland/(Sharman, 2017) Illegal, but sometimes not enforced for small amounts Legal Illegal
Portugal/(Seshata, 2014) Decriminalised up to 25 g herb or 5 g hashish Legal Decriminalised
UK/(Gov, 2018) Illegal Legal Illegal
USA / (NCSL, 2018) Legal in 9 states, the District of Columbia, and some Indian Reservations – but Illegal at federal level. An additional 13 states and the USA Virgin Islands have decriminalised USA Legal in 9 states, the District of Columbia, and some Indian Reservations – but illegal at federal level. An additional 13 states and the USA Virgin Islands have decriminalised
Uruguay/(Arsenault, 2018) Legal; buying prohibited for foreigners Legal for all uses Legal for up to six plants
Zimbabwe/(Polianskaya, 2018) Illegal Legal Illegal

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Corresponding author

Daniel William Mackenzie Wright can be contacted at: dwright3@uclan.ac.uk

About the author

Daniel William Mackenzie Wright is based at the Department of Tourism, Hospitality and Events, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.