Marijuana laws changing around the world

It's an issue that divides society - to smoke or not to smoke.

Throughout the world, a number of countries are slowing changing their laws around medicinal and recreational cannabis use. New Zealand's laws have stayed relatively the same for some time, with the exception of cannabis based products now being approved for use, but still tightly controlled.

So, which countries are leading the way in this area, and where can you use it either for fun, or for well-being?

Here in New Zealand, cannabis remains illegal to possess, and illegal to grow.

Medicinal use is tightly controlled but can be granted by the Ministry of Health.

Across the ditch it's a similar story.

Recreational weed is illegal, and around 66 thousand people are arrested for personal use each year.

When it comes to 'medicinal', the federal government has legalised prescriptions, but it's up to states to sort the details.

In recent weeks South Australia allowed doctors to prescribe it, without government approval.

Things get interesting over in the United States.

Last year California became the biggest state to legalise recreational marijuana.

That move allowed almost 40 million Americans to legally grow up to six plants and freely smoke the drug.

Colorado is seen as somewhat of a pioneer when it comes to US marijuana laws.

It passed legislation way back in 2012, making recreational use legal.

It's now even promoting marijuana tourism, encouraging travellers to shop at their dispensaries.

Up in Washington state, it's big business.

Legalised pot is expected to generate 800 million New Zealand dollars in taxes in this year alone.

In April, the Canadian government announced a complete overhaul of their laws.

It aims to fully legalise the drug by July next year and growers will need to be licensed.

However, anyone caught selling to minors faces the prospect of up to 14 years behind bars.

Amsterdam is still seen by many as marijuana heaven with a wide selection of edibles and smoking options available at cafes around the city.

But not everywhere is so liberal.

Foreigners caught in Japan with just one joint can be banned from the country for life.

You face the death penalty if you are caught cultivating or selling marijuana in the U.A.E, Indonesia, Egypt and Malaysia.

While in Singapore, you can be hanged for trafficking the drug.