This summer soccer fans attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia can legally transport marijuana into the stadiums thanks to a bureaucratic loophole. They can also bring cocaine and heroin, too, providing they have the proper medical paperwork.
You may consider this a joke and worry Russia is trapping naïve travelers, but an economic agreement that includes Russia explains how that’s possible.
The Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a joint economic trade bloc of countries including Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, allows for certain banned narcotic and psychotropic drugs to be brought into the country with supporting medical documentation. The Russian-led union of nations gives foreign travelers the right to carry drugs including cannabis and cocaine with the proper prescription papers.
As the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper first reported, FIFA rules also stipulate that fans can have banned narcotics on their persons so long as they also carry the proper medical paperwork. This doesn’t mean you’ll see fans lighting up mid-match, however. The country’s smoking ban will remain in effect in the 11 cities that will host World Cup soccer matches, as will Russian Federation laws regarding spectators’ proper conduct.
The 2018 Russia World Cup Organizing Committee confirmed these reports and released a statement clarifying that law enforcement officials will be staged at various checkpoints to confirm the authenticity of the medical paperwork.
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“Security officers will monitor the enforcement of rules for carrying prescription drugs to stadium grounds at checkpoints,” the committee announced.
All this falls under a November 2015 Eurasian Economic Commission decision, which states travelers can carry a limited amount of drugs into EPAC countries. The only requirement is those transporting such drugs must maintain documentation “supporting medical documents indicating the name and quantity of goods.”