Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia; photo via iStock/ scaliger
Soccer fans traveling to Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup this summer will be allowed to bring medical cannabis, cocaine, or heroin (yes, you read that right) along for the ride — if they have the proper paperwork, that is. The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), an economic trade bloc representing Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan among other states, will allow tourists to bring pretty much any kind of drug with them into the country, even if said drugs are prohibited in the EAEU, as long as they have a written medical prescription.
These regulations technically allow World Cup fans to bring marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, or heroin into Russia, but in order to do so, travelers must have supporting medical documents filled out in Russian. Attendees of the events will be allowed to carry illegal drugs on their person into stadiums, but only if they have a medical prescription. The 2018 World Cup Organizing Committee said that “security officers will monitor the enforcement of rules for carrying prescription drugs to stadium grounds at checkpoints,” the Moscow Times reports.
Of course, actually getting these drugs out of one's home country is another story altogether. In the U.S., medical marijuana is not allowed in airports or on planes, even in canna-legal states, because all airports are under the federal jurisdiction of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). “Whether or not marijuana is considered legal under local law is not relevant to TSA screening because TSA is governed by federal law,” the agency's website says. “Federal law provides no basis to treat medical marijuana any differently than non-medical marijuana.”
Although tourists may still find a way to import their stash and smoke up before the game, Russian citizens are not so lucky. Russian law prohibits any cultivation, production, sale, or use of cannabis, punishable by fines and prison time. The country’s prohibition laws are not likely to change anytime soon, as President Putin has said that he is “strongly against the legalization of marijuana,” Russia Beyond reports. The majority of the country seems to support their president on this issue, with a recent poll reporting that 78% of Russians are in favor of increasing criminal penalties for illegal drug use.
There is still a vocal minority in the country arguing for the decriminalization or full legalization of cannabis, but Russian authorities are keeping a watchful eye on marijuana activists. Several pro-cannabis demonstrations have been planned during the past decade, but each has been immediately shut down by police. Even legalizing cannabis for medical use seems to be a dim prospect, as top medical officials in the country still tout the myth that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that leads to further drug abuse.