Cannabis Law
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Cannabis law for medical and recreational use varies by country, in terms of its possession, distribution, and cultivation

Although Cannabis Law is developing in some countries, it is still strictly forbidden in others. It’s illegal to smoke cannabis; in places like the UAE and Singapore, you could face immediate jail time or a large fine if caught. Whilst in other countries it’s either decriminalized or socially accepted.

Confusing ? or what! In this article, we’ll be looking at the 60 countries 1 where weed is either legal, decriminalized, or socially acceptable. That literally means over 30% of the world is embracing the benefits of cannabis, marijuana, weed or skunk, whatever you want to call it!

Cannabis Law Terms

KEY – Cannabis policy reform broadly falls into the following categories.

  • Medical legalization: refers to the process by which a country legalizes the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
  • Decriminalization: simply means that possession of small amounts of marijuana is no longer considered a criminal offence. This does not necessarily mean that it is legal to grow or sell cannabis, but it does mean that people will not be arrested and imprisoned for possessing small amounts for personal use.
  • Legalization: means that cannabis can be bought, sold, and consumed legally. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, you must be 21 years old to purchase it from a licensed dispensary. In countries/states where medical marijuana is legal, patients must have a valid doctor’s recommendation to purchase it from a licensed dispensary.
  • Socially acceptable: This means it’s tolerated and people turn a blind eye, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legal so consequences could still be enforced.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized (Decriminalized for small amounts and private consumption, as ruled by the Supreme Court in 2009).
  • Medical: Legal (Medicinal cannabis legal nationally since 21 September 2017).

In 2020, cannabis was legalized for medical use. Growing or selling large amounts of cannabis is still illegal and subjects you to criminal penalties. However, personal cannabis use has been fully decriminalized.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized in Northern Territory and South Australia. Legal in the Australian Capital Territory for personal use but not for sale. (Since 31 January 2020 residents have been allowed to grow two plants and possess 50 g, though sales or other transfer is prohibited, including cannabis seeds. Federal law also remains enforceable)
  • Medical: Legal at the federal level and in all states. Qualifying conditions and other details vary by state.

Australia has been at the forefront of medical marijuana research and commercialization. It’s been legal across the country for two years. While recreational marijuana isn’t, possession is decriminalized in many areas. Australia isn’t as much of a hub for cannabis as some other countries, but if you find some, you can take advantage of it without any repercussions.


  • Recreational: Personal use decriminalized as of January 2016.
  • Medical: Dronabinol, Sativex, Nabilone.

Cannabis in Austria is legal for scientific and medical usage, but illegal for recreational usage. Possession of small amounts for personal use was decriminalized in 2016.The sale of cannabis seeds and plants is legal.


  • Recreational: Legal for spiritual use by registered Rastafarians.
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 3 g or cultivation of one plant.
  • Medical: Sativex.

If you are aged 18 or older, you can enjoy at least 3 grams of decriminalized marijuana in Belgium. But be discreet–don’t smoke your flower in public.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 10 g.
  • Medical: Illegal

As of late 2017, the government of Belize has decriminalized cannabis and has decreased the penalty to up to 10 grams. You are allowed to smoke it, as long as you stay indoors or with permission from the owner of the property. That includes their sailboat.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 7 g.
  • Medical: Legal

According to the Supreme Court of Bermuda, medical cannabis can now be used throughout the island nation. As of July 2018, only two doctors have been licensed to prescribe the drug.


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal for terminally ill patients


  • Recreational: Illegal but often unenforced (seems unclear and opportunistically)
  • Medical: Illegal

In Cambodia, you can go out to eat and know that anything listed as “Happy” is likely infused with cannabis. Weed is illegal, but it’s culturally accepted, ubiquitous, and cheap.


  • Recreational: Legal
  • Medical: Legal

Legalized on October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis use is now legal in Canada. There are varying ages that the individual provinces set to buy cannabis, with the minimum being 18 years old and 21 years old depending on the province. Depending on the province, edibles and weed are packaged in different ways; some provinces have even made it illegal to sell cannabis in any form or shape.

Cannabis Act creates a strict framework: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation 2Cannabis Legalization and Regulation

  • keep cannabis out of the hands of youth
  • keep profits out of the pockets of criminals
  • protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis

What is legal as of October 17, 2018? Cannabis Act 3Cannabis Act

subject to provincial or territorial restrictions, adults who are 18 years of age or older are legally able to:

  • possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis, dried or equivalent in non-dried form in public
  • share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
  • buy dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
    • in provinces and territories without a regulated retail framework, individuals are able to purchase cannabis online from federally-licensed producers
  • grow, from licensed seed or seedlings, up to 4 cannabis plants per residence for personal use
  • make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home as long as organic solvents are not used to create concentrated products

As of October 17, 2019, cannabis edible products and concentrates are legal for sale.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized for possession and cultivation
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 22 g or cultivation of 20 plants for personal use.
  • Medical: Legal

For nearly a decade, Colombia has decriminalized marijuana with amounts up to 20 grams. It’s legal to use, but it’s not legal to sell or grow it. Colombia takes it unique situation with the drug trade into consideration when determining how harmful marijuana is compared to other substances.

Costa Rica

  • Recreational: Decriminalized (although the amount is yet to be defined for minimum possession).
  • Medical: Legal

One thing you’ll find in common with many of the places on this list is that smoking weed here technically isn’t legal (though there are no legal penalties!) Smoking weed is extremely popular and is tolerated in common spaces such as the beach- though not your hotel room.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Medical: Legal

Crops and flowers typically grown for personal use may be exempt from this law here in this state. Medical marijuana is legal here, but it is illegal to possess a small amount of weed and other “light drugs”. Tourists who are caught can be fined $750-$3,000 depending on the circumstance.


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal

Cyprus can be strict, seen as a Class B substance with possible life imprisonment and maximum 8 years for possession. 

The Czech Republic

  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 10 g or cultivation of 5 plants
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal (under a 4-year pilot programme launched in January 2018 and has been extended by another 4 years).


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 10 g
  • Medical: Legal

You might not believe it, but Ecuador has a pretty relaxed policy when it comes to marijuana. That’s because it’s illegal to cultivate or sell it, but personal use is legal so long as you don’t exceed 10 grams.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Medical: Special permissions

The town of Kanepi in Estonia just adopted a marijuana leaf as the official symbol. You can’t buy and sell marijuana there, and possession under 7.5 grams is punishable by a fine and not jail time.


  • Recreational: Illegal but sometimes not enforced
  • Medical: Legal under license


  • Recreational: Legal for possession and consumption but not for sale
  • Medical: Legal

Georgia is a small European country, bordering Turkey and Russia, in 2018 they were the first to legalize cannabis on the continent. As long as you are over 18 years or older, you can legally possess and consume marijuana. The Courts have deemed that a person has the right to their body and any action taken by their body falls under their personality—which includes consuming marijuana.


  • Recreational: Illegal however plans in place to review the policy.
  • Medical: Legal for seriously ill patients.

In November 2022 Germany’s health minister unveiled plans to decriminalise the possession of up to 30 grammes of cannabis and allow the sale of the substance to adults for recreational purposes in a controlled market.

A question mark remains over whether the plan approved by the Cabinet will go ahead because the government first wants to be sure that it is compatible with European Union law. 


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal as part of a 5-year pilot programme.


  • Recreational: Possession decriminalized, home cultivation legal in small amounts for personal use. Sale is punishable by imprisonment.
  • Medical: Legal and industrial use is strictly regulated.

If you’re caught selling or cultivating cannabis here, you’ll face big trouble. However, it’s a misdemeanour to have small amounts for personal use. You could still end up with fines and restrictions of your identification documents, but you won’t go to jail. Italy’s always been openly pro-cannabis and it seems like now more than ever there are active movements to legalize the plant.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 2 oz or cultivation of 5 plants.
  • Medical: Legal

Since 2015, Weed is no longer criminalized in Jamaica, so if you are Rastafarian, you can use unlimited quantities without repercussions. Word on the street says you’ll have countless people coming up to offer you local marijuana as soon as you hit the beach!


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Legal for possession, consumption, and cultivation.
  • Medical: Legal

On December, 14th of 2021, Malta became the first EU country to legalize recreational cannabis for personal use. It is now legal to carry around up to 7 grams of cannabis, but smoking in public remains illegal. If you’re fortunate enough to get your hands on some, be discreet about it so you avoid getting into trouble. The country has yet to set up a system for retail stores, but people are allowed to grow marijuana plants at home.


  • Recreational: Legal for possession, consumption, and cultivation with a permit.
  • Medical: Legal, although not dispensing of cannabis exists.

Personal use, in amounts 5 grams or less, is decriminalized. Cultivation and sale is still a criminal offence, but there has been renewed pro-legalization momentum lately. With a bit of finesse, you should be able to find it and enjoy it on the less-populated parts of the beach without worry.


  • Recreational: Consumption and sale are tolerated in-licenses coffee shops. Possession of up to 5 g is decriminalized. Cultivation of up to 5 plants is unenforced for non-commercial use.
  • Medical: Legal

It’s well-known Dutch coffee shops have allowed people to smoke weed for decades, it’s the place to go if. you want to try brownies!

New Zealand

  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal but often unenforced
  • Medical: CBD only


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 10 g
  • Medical: Illegal


  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Medical: Legal

As long as you’re discreet, cannabis is tolerated, just don’t mess around growing or selling. You can do what you want at home, just not out in public.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 25 g of herb or 5 g of hashish
  • Medical: Legal

Portugal started decriminalizing drugs in 2001, and this approach has had a positive impact on the country’s struggle with opioid addiction. Possessing small amounts of drugs will only get you a fine for the first two offences, and for the third time, you might have to undergo substance-abuse treatment instead of going to prison.


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal

Saint Kitts and Nevis

  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 15 g
  • Medical: Illegal

Saint Lucia

  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 30 g
  • Medical: Illegal

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

  • Recreational: Decriminalized up to 2 oz
  • Medical: Legal

San Marino

  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal and Cannabis is a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
  • Medical: CBD Only

Singapore is very strict, Those who are caught with 500g of cannabis or more are considered drug traffickers and are punished with a possible death penalty


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: CBD Only


  • Recreational: Decriminalized
  • Medical: Sativex, Marinol, CBD

South Africa

  • Recreational: Legal for possession, cultivation and use in private places.
  • Medical: Legal but no processes for dispensing in place.

Cannabis is federally illegal but has been decriminalized for personal consumption by adults in private homes. However, if your hosts have marijuana, smoking indoors won’t lead to any unwanted visits from the police.


  • Recreational: Decriminalized. Use and possession in private areas allowed for own consumption.
  • Medical: Legal

The government of Spain legalized smoking clubs in Catalonia in 2017. These organizations are not just limited to cigarettes—you are free to smoke your own substances without fines or legal ramifications of any kind.

Sri Lanka

  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legalized by the amendment made in colonial law by the 1980s and through the Ayurveda Act.


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal under license


  • Recreational: Decriminalized. Legal below 1.0% THC.
  • Medical: Legal

Right now, small amounts of cannabis are decriminalized. There’s a push to establish some legal cannabis clubs. If you’re over 18 and caught with up to 10 grams on you, the punishment is a $100-$150 fine, or for less-than-1%-THC flowers (which are referred to as “Cannabis Light”)–you won’t be fined at all! Most importantly, hemp home grows are allowed too.


  • Recreational: Legal for possession, sale and home cultivation. The 0.2% THC limit applies to processed products (oils and edibles), but not to cannabis plants.
  • Medical: Legal

United Kingdom

  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal only when prescribed by a specialist consultant.

Banned in 1928. Made a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.Limited medical use has been legal since 1 November 2018. Cannabis-derived medicines are only legal when prescribed by a specialist consultant and GPs are not allowed to prescribe cannabis-derived medicines. NHS guidance states that medical cannabis should only be prescribed when there is clear published evidence of its benefit and other treatment options have been exhausted.

United States

  • Recreational: Legalized in 21 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia  – but illegal at the federal level. Decriminalized in another 10 states and 1 territory.
  • Medical: Legalized in 37 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia – but illegal at the federal level.

The United States is leading the way, changing policies and allowing dispensaries to open in states.


  • Recreational: Legal, but buying prohibited by foreigners. Cultivation allowed up to six plants.
  • Medical: Legal

In Uruguay, weed is fully legal for adults 18 and over. The whole process starts with persons having to register with the government before engaging in buying, selling or growing any amount of these things. As of 2017, you can buy commercial weed from pharmacies on a regular basis. Access to a normalized, legalized weed is alive in Uruguay.


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal


  • Recreational: Illegal
  • Medical: Legal

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Sources and References
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