Because of North Korea's not-so-friendly relations with the outside world, there are a lot of things we don't know for sure about the place. It turns out that includes cannabis.
Earlier this month, we published a story on Canadian legalization and whether it would comply with international drug treaties. In the piece, we mentioned the only two countries in the world where marijuana is legal: North Korea and Uruguay. Apparently, the issue in North Korea is a whole lot more complicated than that - with conflicting views on whether it's legal or not.
Bill Weinberg, former editor of High Times, says it's most certainly not legal. He says the "myth" was spread, in part, by articles like one in 2013 by travel blogger Darmon Richter, who said he bought and smoked cannabis legally while visiting Rason, North Korea. In disputing Richter's account, Weinberg cites a 2014 article from The Guardian which reports that Richter wasn't actually smoking cannabis - it was a mix of herbs and tobacco.
Richter has since revised his piece to include more context about the laws and presence of cannabis in North Korea. He cites an article on the Sensiseeds blog that disputes the claims made in The Guardian. The Sensiseeds post says there is cannabis grown in the country that has enough THC to get someone high, and the article also notes that it's not a banned substance there.
Whatever the truth is, the notion that cannabis is legal and widely available is advanced by publications like Vice, The Huffington Post, and The Weed Blog. The Wikipedia entry says it's legal, and El Mundo (the second largest daily newspaper in Spain) released this map (with a green North Korea) last December: