How Do US Drug Laws Compare to Other Countries?

marijuana dollar
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In this article, we’ll be looking at the ways in which US drug laws compare to those in other countries across the globe.

As the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, another type of pandemic is still rife and presents a very real and present danger – that of the illegal drug trade. In many countries across the globe, conspiracy to supply class a drugs is a serious offence and carries severe penalties including large fines and custodial sentences. 

In this article, we’re going to be looking at the differences between the drug laws in the USA and those in the rest of the world. 

What are Class A Drugs?

Class A drugs are considered to be the most harmful and, therefore, possession and distribution of these drugs carry the highest penalties for offenders. Types of Class A drugs include: 

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy 
  • LSD (also known as Acid)

In most countries, anybody caught in possession of these drugs are likely to receive a fine or community service. Those found guilty of distribution, or dealing, will in many cases receive a prison sentence. 

Class A Drug Laws Around the World

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Different countries impose different laws when it comes to Class A drugs and, in this section, we’ll take a look at some of these, starting with the USA: 

United States of America

The USA has experienced some serious problems with illegal drugs in recent years and, as such, has imposed some fairly severe penalties as follows: 

The main Class A drugs which present problems in the USA are Heroin, Cocaine and Fentanyl. The distribution of these drugs carries the following penalties in America: 

  • First offence – For a first offence, a custodial sentence is issued. This can last between 5 and 40 years unless the offence has caused death or serious injury. If this is the case, this can carry a life sentence. These statistics are based on amounts of 500-4999 grams of cocaine or 100-999 grams of heroin. 
  • Second offence – For the same amounts as stated above, a second offence can carry a custodial sentence that can last between 10 years to life imprisonment. This can also include, a fine of up to $10 million for an individual. 

United Kingdom

London UK
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In the UK, those caught dealing Class A drugs will face unlimited fines or seven years in prison. As with the USA, distribution of Class A drugs which has directly caused death or severe injury to other persons can receive life imprisonment.  However, this is extremely rare as sentences here tend to often be more lenient than those in America. 

Capital Punishment

While most countries within Europe have laws which are more or less in line with the UK and US. There are some countries in South East and West of Asia that impose much more severe penalties for those who sell, manufacture or distribute Class A drugs. For example, in the following countries, a person found guilty of committing this offence may face the death penalty

  • Thailand
  • Dubai
  • Iran
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • The Philippines

In some cases, such as in Saudi Arabia, there is no exception to the death penalty for those caught dealing drugs. In fact, there are many strict rules concerning drugs and medication being brought into the country. For example, tourists are not permitted to bring HRT or other menopause medication with them. When visiting another country, it’s vital that you first check what you can and cannot bring with you.

North Korea

If you are found dealing or distributing drugs in North Korea, you will be sentenced to many years in a prison camp where contact with friends and family is completely forbidden. North Korea is notorious for its strict regime and even stricter penalties for a wide range of infringements and, its drug laws are clearly no different. However, the country does not, and has never, imposed the death penalty for drug offences.

The World’s Most Lenient Drug Laws

As you will be aware, many countries including the United States, Canada and the Netherlands have legalised the possession of cannabis, however, the Czech Republic goes one (or two) steps further. In this beautiful part of the world, individuals are allowed to have a number of substances on their person, including: 

  • 1 ounce of weed
  • 1 gram of cocaine
  • 1 ½ grams of heroin
  • 2 grams of methamphetamine
  • 40 psychedelic mushrooms
  • 5 tabs of LSD

This, without a doubt, makes the Czech Republic the most lenient country in the world in terms of drug laws. 

Drug Laws Around the World

While there’s no doubt that, in the USA, the penalties for dealing in Class A drugs can be very severe, they are by no means the harshest. During his presidency, Donald Trump explored the possibility of introducing the death penalty for repeat offenders, however, this never made it into the law books. In contrast, many countries around the world, as highlighted in this article, will automatically sentence somebody to death for the offence of drug dealing. 

Looking at the different penalties across the globe, it’s safe to say that laws and penalties in the USA and the UK may be considered ‘harsh but fair’ in terms of deterring people from possessing and distributing these incredibly dangerous substances.