Marijuana use, for medicinal or recreational reasons, remains high around the world, despite often severe penalties for its possession and distribution. In the U.S., 16 states currently allow the use of medicinal marijuana and some are now considering legalizing recreational use, despite federal laws forbidding such activity. In the Netherlands, Dutch coffee shop owners are working to block a government plan to halt “drug tourists” from buying marijuana in their cafes. Mexico’s bloody drug wars continue as cartels battle to control the thousands of tons of marijuana shipped to the U.S., smuggled across the border by any means imaginable. Collected here are a few images of some of the many contentious issues around marijuana.
A man smokes marijuana during a march calling for the decriminalization of marijuana on March 23, 2012 in Guatemala City. (Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)
People march for the legalization of marijuana in Brasilia, on June 3, 2011. (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino)
A man who identified himself as a medical marijuana patient poses with a new billboard erected on top of a liquor store in Denver April 6, 2012. Colorado voters will decide in November whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, regulating it like alcohol products. (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
A soldier guards packages of marijuana that are being incinerated in Tijuana, Mexico, on October 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias)
A man smokes marijuana from a vaporizer during the 24th annual High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on November 20, 2011. People who buy a judge's pass for the festival can vote in the annual competition electing the best marijuana and awarding it with the Cannabis Cup. The Netherlands, long-time known for its liberal drug policies, is changing course as right-wing political leaders are trying to ban tourists from buying marijuana in coffee shops. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)