Updated on September 23, 2021.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Anyone else dreaming about taking a nice, long vacation? During the pandemic, fewer people take their vacation time for one reason; where do you go? The risks of travel and the restrictions when you are heading to another country are a big deterrent.
If you are used to traveling outside of the country, the COVID-19 health emergency has definitely put a dent in your normal. But with the World Health Organization commenting that they see signs of a plateau in cases, maybe the end of the pandemic isn’t as far as we thought?
Have you already started to think about where you are going to travel to when the pandemic is over? When you are someone with health conditions that use medical cannabis, some pre-planning is required. Because you want to vacation in a place that is beautiful, relaxing, but also 420-friendly.
We wondered what international destinations would embrace tourists with a medical card. And found a list of some pretty amazing destinations to add to our post-pandemic travel bucket list.
The ‘true north strong and free’ is a great summer destination. However, only the brave would travel to Canada from January through March in the middle of the winter. Unless you love skating, snow tubing, or skiing. In which case, Canada can be cooler than Colorado!
Canada federally legalized cannabis for adult-use on October 17, 2018. Anyone over the age of eighteen years can visit a dispensary and purchase cannabis. Federal law states that someone can have 30 grams or 1.08 ounces of cannabis in their possession outside of the home. So, purchases are generally limited to one ounce at dispensaries.
Finding a dispensary takes a little more effort in Canada. And that is because the advertising of cannabis is illegal. You won’t see highway signs and billboards directing you to a nearby dispensary. So, you’ll have to look up the location and different dispensaries online.
Can you walk down the street smoking a joint or your vape in Canada? You sure can. Most provinces allow people to discreetly smoke cannabis where cigarette smoking is permitted. That means anywhere outdoors, and at least twenty feet away from daycares, schools, and playgrounds. The province of Halifax actually has more than 80 designated toke-zones for residents and tourists.
There are no licensed medical dispensaries in Canada. During the pandemic lockdown, recreational dispensaries were designated an ‘essential service’ and permitted to stay open when other retail stores were forced to close. No matter what, you know you’ll be able to buy some bud.
Top Selling Strains of Cannabis for your Canadian Vacation
In Canada, cannabis is treated much the same as purchasing alcohol. The same legal rules and restrictions, as well as protections from minors. If you are traveling to Canada, you may want to explore strains that are unique to the country.
Some of the top-selling cannabis strains in Canada are:
· AK-47 (Sativa)
· Lowryder (Sativa)
· DJ Short Blueberry (Indica)
· Romulan (Indica)
· Manitoba Poison (Hybrid)
· Pink Kush (Indica)
In August 2021, the average price for a gram of high-quality cannabis was $12.34. That would place a full ounce of high-end Canadian bud at just over $300 CDN ($236 USD). The street price from illegal and unlicensed sellers averaged about $11.65 per gram.
Love camping? One of the great things about federal legalization is that all of Canada’s Provincial Parks allow guests to use cannabis. That’s right! Pitch a tent, pack your bowl, and stroll down to a beautiful lake and chill.
It’s not like you meet a lot of people who say they can’t wait to escape to Uruguay for a vacation. The country has some amazing tourist sights and friendly cannabis laws. Growing hemp and cannabis in Uruguay goes all the way back to when the Spanish imported the plants.
Recreational use of cannabis for people aged eighteen (18) and older was legalized in 2013. Uruguay was the first nation in the world to legalize recreational cannabis. Historically, personal use of cannabis has never been viewed as a crime in the country. Authorities only pursued charges if production, trafficking, or violent crime was involved.
Compared to many destinations in South America, Uruguay is much safer than other countries. On the 2020 Global Peace Index, Uruguay was ranked 35th (high state of domestic peace) out of 163 countries. America was ranked 121 (medium peace level) or less safe than Uruguay for tourists.
Uruguay allows residents and visitors to have as much as 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of cannabis per week. This is a purchase limitation to make sure that retailers have enough cannabis for everyone. This helps prevent shortages from people purchasing cannabis in bulk from the dispensaries.
The original Law 19.172 guaranteed that the cost of cannabis would not increase to more than $1 per gram. But cannabis prices in Uruguay have gone down below $1 per gram. A move to snuff out cartels and illegal distribution.
Top Selling Strains of Cannabis in Uruguay
Did you know that many countries purchase cannabis seeds from Uruguay? The country has developed a reputation for producing high-quality strains and hybrids. So, it is not surprising to learn that visitors can enjoy some unique strains that may not be common where you live.
Some of the top-selling cannabis strains in Uruguay are:
· Purple Power (Hybrid)
· Headband OG (Sativa)
· Girl Scout Cookies (Indica)
· Purple Afghani (Indica)
One of the interesting things about the cannabis laws in Uruguay is that inmates are allowed to use medical cannabis. If they are registered patients and serve a sentence, inmates are provided medical marijuana on compassionate grounds for their wellness needs.
In 2013, a bill passed by then-President Mujica allowed residents over eighteen to grow up to six plants for non-business purposes. That means no selling, no distribution, and no compounding cannabis products from home-grown plants. Uruguay has also decriminalized possession up to 15 grams (0.529 ounces).
The Vacation Gift That Keeps Giving
Uruguay is a great cannabis-friendly destination. Here is the catch, though; as a non-resident, you are not allowed to buy cannabis. Bummer, right? Except that the country allows cannabis to be given to you as a gift.
You can find retailers that will sell you a shirt, for example, for $50, that comes with an eighth of weed as a bonus “gift with purchase.” Or cannabis clubs that will sell you an expensive drink with a side of free cannabis.
Bob Marley country, with a background track to ‘Ganja Gun.’ Jamaica officially decriminalized cannabis in 2015. Jamaica, home of tropical beaches and beautiful waterfalls (and the best beef patties in the world) was the first country to legalize weed for religious use.
If you practice the Rastafarian faith, you are permitted to buy and possess unlimited quantities of cannabis without any legal restrictions. If that wasn’t the best consideration for converting to a new faith, we don’t know what is.
Sadly, you can’t consume weed in public. So, if you are imagining laying under a coconut tree on a public beach with your blunt, rethink that. You won’t be charged or jailed, but you will get a $500 JMD fine. That is roughly $4 USD. You are allowed to smoke indoors in a residence or on private property.
Cannabis is decriminalized but not technically legalized in Jamaica. If you possess less than two ounces, you will not be charged with a criminal offense. The only place to legally buy cannabis if you are a tourist is at a medical dispensary. They are part cannabis café, part pharmacy by design.
Top Selling Strains of Cannabis in Jamaica
Jamaican cannabis strains are legendary for their potency. But the traditional method of intake is through a Jamaican steam chalice. And that can concentrate the draw from the pipe, creating a powerful inhalation. Short, shallow puffs from the chalice, or you are going to be staring at a palm tree all night on your vacation.
Some of the most popular strains of cannabis in Jamaica are:
· Jamaican Pearl (Sativa)
· King’s Bread (Sativa)
· Jamaican Dream (Sativa)
· Marley’s Collie (Indica)
· Jamaican Lion (Sativa with high CBD content)
Montego Bay is the location where many original strains are developed in Jamaica. It also happens to be one of the best places to vacation on the island. Remember to be discreet if you choose to toke in Jamaica and be prepared to pay a small fine for it if you encounter law enforcement.
Have you ever thought about taking a vacation in Columbia? You should know that selling cannabis is still illegal. But if you are a resident of Columbia, you are permitted to grow up to twenty (20) plants for personal use. And one of the interesting things about Columbia is the rainforest-like environment and rich soil.
The land grows great coffee and giant cannabis plants because the climate is perfect for cultivating marijuana. And Columbia’s export quota of cannabis represents more than 25% of the world’s total cannabis trade.
A law called the “Police Code” went into effect in 2017. At the time, it was an effort to severely control and restrict recreational use of cannabis after medical marijuana was legalized for patients. But the code was so strict; it resulted in an astronomical arrest rate in Columbia.
According to an article in Forbes, the penalty for drinking a can of beer in a park had the same punitive legal consequences as “selling a kilo of cocaine.” Thankfully the legislation was repealed, and that is no longer the case.
What Are the Top Selling Strains in Columbia?
Most of the popular Colombian strains have striking orange and red colors and a vibrant green bud. Colombian cannabis is usually loaded in trichomes as well, and they have a very strong smell (skunky, earthy, and pine notes). That is because the original Columbian landraces strains passed on the characteristics of Haze and Skunk #1.
Some of the most popular strains of cannabis native to Columbia are:
· Columbian Gold (Sativa)
· Punto Rojo (Sativa)
· Limon Verde (Sativa)
Possession and consumption of cannabis are decriminalized in Columbia. So, you may get a ‘ticket’ on your vacation and a small fine for consuming it. Medical marijuana is legal; adult-use is not, however. But in 2019, Columbia’s Constitutional Court ended the ban on public consumption of cannabis.
5. Costa Rica
It always helps when you have a political leader that is pro-cannabis. The Deputy of the Citizen Action Party in Costa Rica is Paola Vega. And Vega stated in 2021 that the legalization of cannabis is coming soon for Costa Rica. So you may want to hold off on your vacation until 2022.
In the meantime, cannabis is decriminalized in Costa Rica for personal use. In fact, cannabis is part of the health and wellness “pura vida” culture of Costa Rica. Recreational use of cannabis is illegal for both residents and tourists in Costa Rica, however. But there is no criminal punishment for possession of a “small dose” of cannabis, which has been defined as a ¼ ounce amount. However, the penalties for selling cannabis, distributing it, or possessing large amounts are astronomical in Costa Rica.
Some of the most popular strains of cannabis unique to Costa Rica are:
· Skunk (Hybrid)
· Cahuita Kush (Indica)
· Panama Red (Sativa)
Visitors have said that the beach towns like Cahuita and Puerto Viejo are the easiest places to find cannabis in Costa Rica. And remember that you can still be incarcerated (but not charged) for buying cannabis or possessing larger amounts of pot. Smoking in public is not recommended. However, visitors may find AirBNB hosts that are 420-friendly.
Safety Tips When Traveling Abroad
When a country has decriminalized cannabis, that does not mean it is legalized. And depending on the country you visit, the likelihood of being issued a ticket for cannabis use is higher for tourists. As a general rule, you are more likely to be stopped and have your cannabis confiscated if you are a visitor versus a citizen.
Even if you have a medical card, do not travel across borders or through international airports with cannabis. Some of the longest and most severe prison sentences have been handed to foreigners who try to leave a country with some of the cannabis they purchased while visiting. Dispose of it, or gift it to a local but do not sell it. The penalties for selling cannabis can be extremely harsh.
We are not advising or encouraging anyone to break the law when traveling to a new country. But if you are visiting a jurisdiction where it has been decriminalized, exercise caution and be discrete to reduce your risks if you choose to get hazy and lazy on the beach for your vacation. Stay safe.