Cannabis is considered illegal in Laos, but despite this, a cannabis culture still exists in the country. Public usage of cannabis can result in a 12-month jail sentence. However, it’s been reported that police officers often accept bribes from those arrested for cannabis-related offenses, allowing them to walk free. As of 2009, a mandatory death penalty is applied for certain cases.
Despite the strict laws, marijuana is openly sold in some businesses. Particularly in the tourist-heavy area of Vang Vieng, cannabis is openly sold by bars either as marijuana bud or as infused “happy pizza. Some restaurants even offer a “happy” menu where customers can get a variety of infused foods, sometimes along with “magic” goods containing psychedelic mushrooms. Because of Vang Vieng’s openness towards cannabis, psychedelic mushrooms, and opium, it has become a famous tourist destination.
In recent developments, on December 28, 2022, the Ministry of Health of Laos issued Decision No. 3789/MOH on the Control of Hemp for Medication and Products. This was the first notable development related to cannabis since 2019, when the Lao government established an ad hoc committee to consider the legalization of cannabis.
However, it’s important to note that while cannabis is widely available in Laos despite its illegal status, the penalties for offenses can be severe. As such, it’s crucial for both locals and tourists to be aware of and respect the local laws regarding cannabis use and possession.