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  • By Keith J. Myers

The legality of cannabis in Pacific countries

The Pacific Islands region is located within the Pacific Ocean which comprises three different ethnic-geographic categories. The region covers an estimate of 300,000 sqm. of land which incorporates New Zealand and New Guinea.

The countries included within the region are a mix of independent states and non-independent states. Since America had legalized cannabis in various states for the past several years, the influence of legalization to other neighboring countries is working at a quick pace.

As of the year 2016, there are about 29 states that legalize medical usage of cannabis. Despite the enactment of rules and regulations, however, the medical marijuana program remains at a standstill, thanks to the shortage of an independent testing lab.

There are several countries in the world that have not yet legalized cannabis whether for recreational use or medicinal use. The status of marijuana and other related products varies around the world.

For better understanding with regards to CBD oils, cannabis, and another industrial hemp, there are multiple articles and great post to read. You can also check it out on our official website. But in this article, we will dive deeper to discuss and understand each country in the Pacific Island countries whether cannabis is legal or illegal.

Some countries have more liberal regulations while others have strict or maybe draconian rules. Many fall somewhere in between.

Countries like Fiji, Palau, Marshall Island, Samoa, and other multiple countries under the Pacific islands region banned the assembly and usage of cannabis However, despite the law, some countries like Tonga, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea still produce and cultivate cannabis illicitly.

Most of the acquisition of cannabis in the Pacific Islands is brought in by traders and other foreign travelers. Similarly in Tonga, in which foreign travelers and Tongan emigrate that returned to the island caused the increase of cannabis reports.

In Palau, cannabis is illegal, however, local reports indicate that the usage of cannabis is widely used and illicitly produced. Several reports from the World Health Organization and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime are called into question for the accuracy of their claims that Palau has the very best cannabis usage rates within the world. Based on a research last 2005, the Palau police disregard the issues of the high number of public consumption of cannabis.

It is also a similar scenario in Fiji, cannabis was introduced on the island when Indian workers arrived under the Indentured Labor System. A report filed in 1993 found an emerging issue with cannabis when foreign travelers exposed the local youth with the illegal drug.

As for the Marshall Islands, Section 903 of the Narcotics Drugs (Prohibition and Control) Act 1987, prohibits possession of any forms of cannabis. However, an individual may possess cannabis if it's obtained according to a legitimate prescription of a medical man under Section 904 of the Act. Despite this section, medicinal cannabis isn't available on the islands.

However, it is different in New Zealand, where the use of cannabis is regulated by the Misuse of medicine Act 1975 in which the illegal possession of any form and amount of cannabis is considered a criminal offense.

Cannabis is the fourth most widely used narcotic in New Zealand, after caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco, and therefore the most generally used illicit drug.

In December 2018, the Misuse of Medicine Act was amended by the Misuse of Medicine Amendment Act 2018 allowing much wider use of medical marijuana or cannabis, making the drug available for terminally ill patients within the last 12 months of their life.

There are also islands that were influenced by the Americans, most especially the Micronesia region since cannabis was brought to the island by the American Peace Corps volunteers during the 1960s however, the consumption of cannabis in the region is still illegal.

In Kiribati, severe punishments are imposed for the possession, sale, and assembly of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Like other island nations despite having strict laws about cannabis, most fishermen turned to drug trafficking and illegal cultivation of cannabis due to decreasing income and unsustainable lifestyles.


Multiple countries under the Pacific Island region still considers cannabis as an illegal drug but locals either participate in drug trafficking, illegal cultivation, and production to export to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia or the Australasia region.

However, in Vanuatu, the usage of cannabis for recreational purposes is still illegal but it is legal for medical and industrial purposes.

In 2018, the national health care system in Vanuatu was conducting clinical trials using cannabis in treating diabetic patients.


Since they made progress in the field, the government’s Council of Ministers issued a decision allowing the establishment of industries for the production of medical cannabis and industrial hemp.

As a conclusion, countries in the Pacific Island region are still against the usage of cannabis with reservations, although it is not far when medical marijuana is widely used around the world and to be legalized solely for the purpose of medicine.

Keith J. Myers is the co-founder of The Hempire

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