Where is cannabis legal? Cannabis laws become increasingly liberal across the globe, you may be wondering just where is cannabis legal in different parts of the world. Here’s our complete guide to cannabis legalisation around the world updated in 2022.
We deal with the larger EU markets first, the UK, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Portugal before moving to the large North American states, Canada, Australia and New Zealand before finally the rest of the countries of the world one by one.
Table of Contents
In November 2018, medicinal cannabis was legalized in the UK. The move came after the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley received international attention, which prompted home secretary Sajid Javid to announce that cannabis would be reclassified as a schedule 2 drug. This effectively legalized cannabis for medicinal use, as well as CBD-oil based medications, making them available for prescription in the UK.
However, qualifying for medical cannabis treatment is quite difficult, and most GP’s across the UK have reported that they do not feel informed enough to confidently prescribe cannabis oil and medicinal products to their patients. Patients looking to qualify for medicinal cannabis must get a referral from their GP for a specialist clinician, that is listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council. Medical cannabis treatment has mostly been limited to treating rare forms of treatment-resistant childhood epilepsy, as well as Multiple Sclerosis.
Worldwide CBD laws
Despite medical cannabis legalisation, recreational cannabis is still illegal in the UK – and as a class B drug, the possession of cannabis is punishable by a 5-year prison sentence and an unlimited fine, or both. People found in possession of a small amount of cannabis (generally less than an ounce) may get away with a smaller on-the-spot fine, or a police warning. The supply and production of cannabis is punishable by an unlimited fine and a prison sentence of up to 14 years, or both.
Among the political chaos of Brexit, the Liberal Democrats may see a rise in popularity as they set their sights on making recreational cannabis legal in the UK. Under their new drug policy approach, it may soon be totally legal to smoke weed on UK streets as the Lib Dems aim “to break the grip of criminal gangs and protect young people by introducing a legal, regulated market for cannabis”. This progressive new drug policy would target the supply of illegal drugs, rather than reprimanding individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis products, or smoking cannabis in public.
As part of the move, Lib Dems would also tighten laws around “stop and search” so that a judge would have to approve the establishment of a stop and search area, while police officers would be required to wear body cameras.
Wholesale CBD in the UK is becoming more available and for a full list of suppliers at the best UK CBD isolate prices please use our team.
Where is cannabis legal in Europe?
There are arguably forty-four countries across Europe, all with their own legal provisions covering cannabis and marijuana, and whilst we hope to expand this article in the future, here are the main European nations you've been asking us about
1. Is Cannabis Legal in Spain?
In Spain, cannabis laws differ between private and public spaces, as well as personal versus commercial use. The commercial sale of cannabis is illegal, and trafficking cannabis in Spain can result in a penalty of one to three years of jail time as well as a fine.
Since Spain decriminalized the consumption of marijuana in private spaces in 2015, private cannabis clubs began to pop up all over the country as a space for people to smoke cannabis and meet with other cannabis enthusiasts. These private clubs allow people to technically avoid being penalised for smoking cannabis outside of their home, while also providing a space for marijuana enthusiasts to meet over a shared love of cannabis culture and cultivation.
Since Spanish law still prohibits the commercial sale of cannabis, private smoking clubs require members to pay a “club fee” which allows them to access free cannabis that is collectively grown and distributed among club members. There are an estimated 700 CSC’s across the country.
Since smoking cannabis within private spaces is no longer a criminal offence in Spain, consuming cannabis within the privacy of your own home is perfectly legal. You can also grow
cannabis in your own home, as long as it is not publicly visible. Smoking in public is still illegal, and under Citizen Security laws (Ley de la Seguridad) is considered a serious infraction – taking drugs in public or growing cannabis in public areas can result in a fine ranging from €600 to €30,000.
2. Is Cannabis Legal in Germany?
Medical cannabis was legalized in Germany when legislation for patients to access medical cannabis products was approved in 2016, coming into effect in March 2017.
Since medical cannabis was legalised, demand has sky-rocketed. According to the German Cannabis Association (DHV), approximately 142,000 prescriptions for medical cannabis were issued in 2018. The DHV also states there are an estimated 50,000-60,000 private and statutory health insurance patients being treated with medical cannabis in Germany.
Although medical marijuana was legalised, the fact that there are no laws around cultivation in Germany meant that legal medical cannabis products had to be imported into the country from outside suppliers and companies. As there is no “legitimate” cannabis market in Germany, this means that the black market has continued to thrive, as a resource for patients unable to access legal medical cannabis.
However, a specialist group – the BfArM’s (Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices) cannabis agency – has been set up to liberalize Germany’s medical cannabis laws, and to develop a system to grant licenses for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
While medical cannabis in Germany has been criticised for being inaccessible, the town of Tuttlingen is considered the world capital of drugs and medical devices. As well as producing a large percentage of the world’s surgical equipment, Tuttlingen is also home to the Storz & Bickel headquarters, where the German vaporizer manufacturers produce medical-grade cannabis inhalers and vaporizers.
Three out of five of Germany’s most prominent political parties are officially advocating to fully legalize marijuana within German parliament, including the Green Party (Die Grünen), the left-wing party (Die Linke) and the liberal party (FPD).
Despite the fact that recreational cannabis is still illegal, German drug law states that law enforcement are not required to prosecute individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis, unless the case is a matter of public health – such as the consumption of cannabis in schools, state prisons, in public, or in front of minors.
The definition of “small amounts” differs across Germany, from 6 grams in Hamburg, to 15 grams in Germany and 45 grams in Bavaria. Currently, German law still prohibits the growing, sale and distribution of cannabis.
There are a number of marches that take place each year to promote the legalisation of cannabis in Germany. The Global Marijuana March has taken place every year since 2011, and the Hanfparade (Hemp Parade) is a German hemp legalisation demonstration that has taken place in Berlin every year since 1997 in an effort to legalize cannabis.
3. Is Cannabis Still Legal In Amsterdam?
Surprisingly, cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, including Amsterdam – despite the fact that the Dutch city is widely thought of as the weed capital of the world. Although cannabis is considered an illegal drug, it is widely tolerated by Dutch law enforcement who view harder drugs like cocaine and heroin as a much bigger priority compared to soft drugs.
As such, cannabis falls under a legal grey area in Dutch law, and largely depends on how it is used. The personal use of cannabis is no longer a criminal offence, although smoking cannabis in public (as opposed to in a coffeeshop or your own home) is still technically illegal.
“Coffeeshops”, which although technically illegal, are tolerated by the Dutch government so long as they meet a set of criteria. They may only sell small quantities of cannabis – no more than five grams of cannabis per person in any one transaction. Coffeeshops cannot sell hard drugs or alcohol, and may only keep 500 grams of cannabis in stock at any time. Dutch drug laws also state that coffeeshops cannot advertise cannabis products, or sell them to minors under the age of 18.
The number of coffeeshops across the Netherlands has been steadily decreasing for the last decade, and in 2016 there were a reported 170 coffeeshops in Amsterdam. However, they remain an important part of the tourist economy, and draw large numbers of overseas visitors to enjoy the novelty of smoking cannabis in a public space.
In an effort to reduce drugs tourism, a few cities across the Netherlands briefly trialled a “weed pass”, which would only allow locals to enter coffeeshops. Most cities abandoned the scheme, however some areas of the Netherlands (Maastricht, for example) require individuals to provide proof of residence to be able to buy cannabis from coffeeshops.
4. Is Cannabis Legal in France?
France first liberalized its approach to medical cannabis use back in 2014, when it approved the use of certain cannabis based medicines. The conditions that qualify for the prescription of medical cannabis products are still quite limited, however certain patients with multiple sclerosis who experience severe muscle spasms can qualify for treatment.
Despite the fact that France has some of the most strict punishments for cannabis-related offences of any European country, French people are among the highest cannabis users in Europe according to figures from Statista. While recreational cannabis is technically illegal, there have been some political steps towards legalising cannabis.
According to recent changes in French law, cannabis with a maximum of 0.2 percent THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) can legally be sold. As such, shops have opened up across the country selling “legal cannabis” with a THC percentage of 0.2% or lower. According to Forbes, while these shops do not advocate smoking cannabis, they do recommend making herbal teas with it.
Anyone found using cannabis with a thc percentage higher than 0.2%, can be punished with a one year prison sentence and a fine.
5. Is Cannabis Legal in Ireland?
In the Republic of Ireland, recreational cannabis is against the law, and cannabis users caught in possession of the drug for personal use can face a class D fine of €1,270.
In recent years, there have been talks among government officials over the decriminalisation and/or legalisation of cannabis, and recently the government established a scheme for patients to access medical cannabis in Ireland.
In early 2019, Minister for Health Simon Harris signed legislation allowing the Medical Cannabis Access Programme to run on a pilot basis for five years. The first phase of the programme which is currently underway, will involve potential suppliers having their medical cannabis products assessed for use in the Irish market.
Once any medical cannabis products are approved for use in Ireland, the programme will facilitate access to cannabis-based treatments, for patients who have not responded to conventional treatments for conditions like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and intractable chemotherapy-induced nausea. Currently, no medicinal cannabis treatments have been approved under the scheme.
Amid government steps to legalise cannabis for medical use, a group of senior doctors and medical professionals known as the Cannabis Risk Alliance wrote a letter to the Irish Times, warning readers that Ireland was “sleepwalking” into the full legalisation of cannabis.
Despite the fact that no medical cannabis products have currently been approved, and the Medical Cannabis Access Scheme is limited to patients who fail to respond to standard treatments, the Cannabis Risk Alliance stated that medical cannabis could be used as a “Trojan horse” strategy for fully legal cannabis in Ireland.
Minister Simon Harris responded that there are no plans to legalize recreational cannabis in Ireland any time soon, and that efforts to liberalize Ireland’s drug laws will help to fight drug addiction through a healthcare based approach, stating “When we come across someone in this country with an addiction, should we be giving them a helping hand or a handcuff?”
Is Cannabis Legal in India?
Cannabis is common with the Hindu tradition, and is used in various forms like chara (cannabis resin) ganja (cannabis flower) and bhang (cannabis seeds and leaves).
The central law that deals with the legal status of marijuana in India is known as the Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act 1985, however different states within India have their own laws and regulation around the possession, consumption and sale of cannabis.
One crucial element for understanding cannabis regulation in India, is that the NDPS act defines cannabis as the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant – not the leaves or seeds (bhang). As such, bhang is openly consumed as part of Hindu festivals and customs – in beverages such as bhang thandai – without violating the law.
However, this is once again subject to change depending on different states. Himachal Pradeshhe is set to become the second Indian state to develop a cannabis industry through legalising the cultivation of cannabis. At the same time, the Assam Ganja and Bhang Prohibition Act 1958 prohibits the sale, purchase, consumption and possession of both bhang and ganja in Assam. In comparison, any drink made out of charas or ganja is considered cannabis across India.
Despite the fact that the cannabis plant grows wild in the Himalayas, and that cannabis has a long history of use as part of the Hindu religion, possession of cannabis flowers (chara) remains illegal in India, and is punishable by prison time. For a small amount, individuals can face imprisonment for up to 6 months, and/or a fine of Rs. 10,000. For anyone found in possession of cannabis intended for commercial sale, individuals can face a prison sentence of 10-20 years as well as a fine of Rs. 1-2 lakh
Despite these harsh punishments, there have been efforts to use the cannabis sativa plant for medical purposes. In 2018, the Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (IIIM) announced plans to develop three cannabis-based medicines for the treatment of epilepsy, sickle-cell anaemia and cancer. The Indian Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have also tried to promote medical cannabis treatments through conferences.
In Bollywood film, cannabis use has traditionally been portrayed negatively, however in recent years there have been efforts to destigmatize cannabis use in Indian TV and film. One such example is Kapoor & Sons, a Hindi language family drama film in which the central characters smoke marijuana.
7. Is Cannabis Legal in Portugal?
Many people believe that Portugal has already fully legalised cannabis, however that is not the case. The Portugese parliament famously decriminalized all drugs back in 2001, while medical cannabis and cannabis-based medicines have been legal in Portugal since 2018. However, the personal cultivation of marijuana at home for medical use remains illegal, and patients can only access medical cannabis in Portugal through a doctor’s prescription.
Since cannabis products and other drugs were decriminalized, Portugal has seen a significant drop in rates of drug addiction and overdose, as well as a reduction in rates of HIV.
While the possession of cannabis is no longer considered a criminal offence, it still carries penalties. However, excessive drug use and drug addiction is treated as a mental illness problem, instead of a criminal offence.
If individuals are found in possession of cannabis, the penalty depends on how much they have. For anyone found in possession of small amounts of cannabis – up to 25 grams of dry herb, or 5 grams of hash – there are no penalties, if it is a first time offence. However if they are caught for possession again, they will have to attend drug addiction therapy.
While some Portuguese law enforcement may turn a blind eye when it comes to public cannabis use, it is illegal to smoke marijuana in the street and the sale of cannabis remains a criminal offence.
That being said, law enforcement is generally more concerned with reducing illegal drug trafficking and helping at-risk individuals suffering from serious drug addiction, rather than punishing casual marijuana users.
8. Is Cannabis Legal in Cyprus?
On February 15th 2019, the Cypriot government voted in favour of amending their Drugs and Psychotropic Substances law to legalise the cultivation and domestic use of medical cannabis.
The new medical cannabis law provides for two different types of licenses which can be granted to private companies to grow medical cannabis, and then distribute it to Cypriot pharmacies. The licenses last 15 years, and can be renewed. The drug law also allows for the import of cannabis seeds and plants for cultivation purposes.
Medicinal cannabis is now available on free prescription to patients suffering from chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease and Tourette’s syndrome, as well as cancer and HIV among others.
Recreational cannabis remains illegal in Cyprus, and is considered a class B substance. Technically, the use of class B drugs is punishable by life imprisonment, however according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction a life sentence has never actually been enforced. First time offenders under the age of 25 are given a maximum sentence of one year for possession. In recent years, there has been more focus on referring young offenders to drug therapy and mental health services.
Upon legalisation, Cyprus’ Green Party urged other EU member states to explore medical cannabis research, stating “The resolution urges the European Commission and the Member States to address the legislative, economic and cultural barriers that hamper scientific research in the field while encouraging them to finance such research,”.
North America & Cannabis Legislation
The north american countries are currently leading the charge toward a more balanced view of cannabis and many countries are looking at the secondary and tertiary consequences of the new, more liberal laws before committing to change. But what are these newly implemented changes to cannabis legislation?
9. In Which US States Is Cannabis Legal?
A wave of liberalized cannabis laws have swept across the United States in the last few years, with the 2018 midterm elections proving just how much societal attitudes have changed. Currently, cannabis is legal in some capacity (whether medical, recreational or both) in 33 states across North America.
Out of those 33, 10 states have legalized recreational cannabis, including the District of Columbia – Alaska, California, Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington, and Nevada.
The road to legalisation has been a long one, ever since marijuana was first criminalized in the United States around the turn of the 20th century. Before then, cannabis was widely used across the United States for recreational and medical use, while George Washington farmed hemp at his home in Mount Vernon. Hashish houses operated alongside opium dens across the United States,
2018 became a pivotal year for cannabis legalisation, and during the 2018 midterm elections voters in Michigan, Missouri, and Utah liberalized their cannabis laws considerably. Missouri and Utah voted to legalize medical marijuana, while voters in Michigan legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Michigan became the first Midwestern state to legalize marijuana, and the 10th state to allow adults 21 and over to possess cannabis in small amounts for recreational use. Individuals in Michigan are also permitted to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home for personal use, and possess up to 15 grams of marijuana concentrates. People in Michigan can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana outside of their home, with this extending to 10 ounces in their home.
Although cannabis is now legal in Michigan, no licenses for the production and sale of commercial cannabis have been granted. As state officials work through the technicalities of their licensing laws commercial marijuana sales remain illegal, and Michigan may not see its first recreational “pot shop” until the beginning of 2020 at the earliest.
In Utah, over 53% of voters backed a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana during the 2018 midterm elections. Under the Utah Medical Cannabis Act, state legislature permits medical marijuana use among patients with qualifying conditions such as PTSD, autism, epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, among others.
In Missouri, lawmakers signed a bill to legalize medical cannabis after 65.5% of voters approved Amendment 2. Voters also approved a 4% tax on marijuana sales, the revenue from which is dedicated to health care services for veterans.
CBD oil was also legalized in 2018, when President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law legalizing industrial hemp and its bi-products. Despite the fact that CBD was legalised on a federal level, many states have been slow to develop their own legislation to meet public demand for CBD products.
10. Is Cannabis legal in Canada?
The short answer – yes! Canada legalised pot last year, and it is now completely legal to consume and buy cannabis in Canada.
Canada became the second country to legalise cannabis on a full recreational and medical level
when the senate passed the Cannabis Act in June 2018, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing that legalized cannabis would come into effect on the 17th of October.
Previously, medical marijuana in Canada had been legal since 2001. Patients who qualified for treatment could access cannabis for medicinal purposes in special dispensaries across the country. Full cannabis legalisation was largely introduced to put an end to black market dealers selling the drug. Trudeau also stated that legalizing cannabis would be a crucial step towards reducing organised crime, and reducing cannabis use among minors.
Across most of the country, adults over the age of 18 may possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in public, which equals to about 1 ounce. In Nova Scotia, the legal age to buy and consume cannabis is 19.
Licensed producers supply products to dispensaries, which must also be granted a special license to sell recreational marijuana products. Cannabis retail locations must not be within 150 metres of a private or public school, and they must be located within a municipality or reserve that has opted into Canada’s wider retail cannabis program.
The shop can only sell approved cannabis products and certain smoking accessories (pipes,rolling papers, etc), and no other business may operate within the same store space. In terms of opening hours, cannabis stores are generally limited to 9am-11pm, Monday to Saturday, although these hours can also change depending on different municipalities.
Cannabis Laws In Oceania
Whilst we know there are more countries in Australasia, due to the large number of questions we get. we're just going to focus on the two big ones for now.
11. Is Cannabis Legal in Australia?
Medical marijuana has been legal in Australia since 2016, which was largely thanks to campaigning by the family of Dan Haslam, a young man who was terminally ill with bowel cancer.
Since Australia legalized cannabis for medicinal use, many thought that the federal government would soon support legalisation for recreational use across Australia – however that has not necessarily been the case.
In Australia’s Northern Territory for example, it is still a criminal offence to possess, supply or manufacture cannabis. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also been notoriously anti-cannabis throughout his political career, grabbing headlines earlier this year when he was egged by a cannabis legalisation activist at a campaign event in New South Wales.
The family of Dan Haslam and other medical cannabis campaigners feel that the current law does not make medical cannabis accessible enough for patients who need it. Doctors in Australia have also stated that they are reluctant to prescribe the drug because of a lack of knowledge, despite the fact that they support the prescription of medical cannabis.
Despite the political backlash against establishing a legal cannabis industry, Australians remain among the highest users of cannabis in the world.
However, the ACT government may soon become the first state in Australia to legalize the growth and possession of recreational cannabis. The possession of small amounts of cannabis has already been decriminalized in the ACT, and the government has sought to amend current law around medical cannabis use, while also expanding laws to legalise recreational cannabis.
A revised Amendment Bill currently making its way through Australian government would allow adults to cultivate up to 50 grams of cannabis. The ACT legislative assembly worked in tandem with the National Drug Research Unit, to submit the Inquiry into Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018. The Inquiry laid out a possible blueprint for legalized cannabis in Australia, pointing to cannabis social clubs in Spain and Belgium. The ACT legislative assembly also noted that most cannabis users in Australia do not grow their own cannabis, and instead access cannabis and cannabis products from the black market.
12. Is Cannabis Legal in New Zealand?
New Zealand made marijuana legal for medical use on the 18th of December 2018.
The legislation also allowed for terminally ill patients to be able to use illicit cannabis without fear of prosecution, with Health Minister David Clarke stating “People nearing the end of their lives should not have to worry about being arrested or imprisoned for trying to manage their pain”.
The new law also facilitates the production of medicinal cannabis products for the domestic and international markets, which is part of a plan to help underprivileged Maori communities to turn a thriving illegal drugs industry into a strong legal one.
On the same day that medical cannabis in New Zealand was legalized, the Labour party also announced that a nationwide, binding referendum to make recreational marijuana legal would be held as part of the 2020 general election. This referendum comes as part of a confidence and supply agreement that the Labour party has with their coalition partner, the Green party.
The National Party opposed the legalisation of medical cannabis, describing it as a “stealth” move to decriminalise the drug in New Zealand ahead of the 2020 referendum.
Currently, licenses for the cultivation of cannabis can only be issued for medical or scientific research under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Growing for any other purpose is not yet permitted by the government, and the illegal cultivation of cannabis is punishable by a maximum penalty of 7 years in prison.
The Rest Of The World
The world is a big place but there is one little island in the Caribbean that is synonymous with weed. We will of course add to this section as requests come in.
13. Is Cannabis Legal in Jamaica?
Given the ubiquity of Bob Marley and Rastafarianism in cannabis culture, you’d be forgiven for thinking that legal weed already exists in Jamaica. However, recreational cannabis is still technically illegal, while medical cannabis was only legalized in 2015. In fact, Jamaica did not plant its first legal cannabis plant until 2015 – on the grounds of the University of the West Indies, as the University was granted permission to cultivate cannabis for medical research.
While cannabis has not been fully legalized in Jamaica, the 2015 Ganja Law decriminalized marijuana and reduced the possession of small amounts of cannabis to a petty offence. According to new marijuana laws, possession of cannabis up to 2 ounces/56.6 grams is a “non-arrestable, ticketable offence, that attracts no criminal record”. Individuals may also cultivate up to 5 cannabis plants or less at home, for personal use.
Although there had been previous efforts to decriminalize cannabis in Jamaica, none were successful as government officials feared violating international treaties and risking important trade ties with the United States. However, in response to growing legalisation across the U.S., Jamaican lawmakers saw an opportunity to capitalise on the growing legal medical marijuana sphere.
Previously, possession of cannabis was punishable by a prison sentence, which many say unfairly targeted Rastafaris who use the cannabis plant as part of their religious practice.
As a result of decriminalization, medical cannabis was legalized – however Jamaica’s first medical cannabis dispensary Kaya Herbhouse was not opened until 2018. Tourists with prescriptions for medical cannabis abroad can also apply for permits to purchase small amounts of marijuana. At Kaya Herbhouse, tourists can also receive a medical marijuana recommendation from on site physicians.
In response to decriminalization, marijuana in Jamaica is now regulated by the Cannabis Licensing Authority, who are responsible for granting licenses to all areas of the cannabis industry. Individuals looking to work within the legal sphere must apply to the CLA for a license, which differs depending on whether they want to cultivate, transport, research, process or sell cannabis.
If you want to become part of the new cannabis and CBD business that are all over the UK we suggest you talk to the white label team who know the best UK CBD whitelabel manufacturers.
Did We Miss Somewhere?
We hope this has answered the question, where cannabis is legal. If there's a county that you are curious about and we missed it, be sure to drop us message on twitter. It's a big world and we'd love to hear about your experience in any far flung corner of the world.