Hemp, Legalisation

Where is cannabis legal and where illegal?


A wave of legalization has started in the world. With some countries legalizing medicinal use, while very few legalise it for recreational use, we are witnessing a changing world. The legal battles are on the rise and petitions are being signed by the public in the interest of cannabis legalization in many counties. Varying responses from the government have made the legalization story a little confusing. Here is a list of countries that have legalized cannabis use in recent times.

Around 30 countries have legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Far more countries — around 30 — have legalised the drug for medicinal purposes, including most European Union members.

Here is an overview:

  AustraliaDecriminalized in Northern Territory and South Australia.Legal in Australian Capital Territory for personal use but not for sale.Legal at federal level and in all states.Qualifying conditions and other details vary by state.
  BarbadosLegal for spiritual use by registered RastafariansLegal
GeorgiaLegal for possession and consumption but not for sale, per a July 2018 ruling by the Constitutional Court of Georgia.Use is legal, but no system for the dispensing of cannabis exists.
HungaryIllegalCBD only
    JapanIllegalCBD only
Korea, SouthIllegalAccess limited to Epidiolex, Marinol and Sativex as of now due to the policy implemented by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
      MaltaLegal for possession, consumption, and cultivation. Distribution is allowed through non-profit cannabis clubs.Legal

Legal for possession, consumption, and cultivation with a permit, but not for sale.Use is legal, but no system for the dispensing of cannabis exists.
NetherlandsConsumption and sale are tolerated in licensed coffeeshops.Possession of up to 5 g is decriminalized. Cultivation of up to 5 plants is unenforced for non-commercial use (unless grown in a professional setup).Legal


MALTA: Though it is the smallest country in the European Union, Malta is a leader in cannabis legalization. In December of 2021, President George Vella signed a bill that created a recreational cannabis program(albeit a limited one), making it the first country in the EU to fully legalize weed. Under this law, adults over the age of 18 can carry up to seven grams of cannabis in public, grow four plants at home, and store up to 50 grams of homegrown cannabis. 

LUXEMBOURG: Luxembourg’s government in June unveiled proposals to allow cannabis users to grow up to four plants at home and decriminalise public pot-smoking and possession, with users to face on-the-spot fines rather than charges.

NETHERLANDS:The possession, production, and sale of drugs are considered criminal offenses under current laws in the Netherlands. However, the Dutch have implemented a “toleration policy” that permits coffee shops to sell cannabis under specific and stringent conditions. One of these conditions is that coffee shops must not create any disturbances, and the government has instructed them to refrain from attracting foreign drug users.

SPAIN: Users in Spain are allowed to grow pot for private use at home but selling the drug or smoking it in public is banned.

PORTUGAL: Portugal took the radical step of decriminalising the consumption and possession of all drugs in 2001 but users nonetheless face fines, unless they agree to be treated for addiction.

North America

USA: The cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis are prohibited under federal law in the United States. However, there has been a significant legislative shift over the past decade, with 18 states, including California, along with the national capital, Washington DC, legalizing cannabis for recreational use.

In October 2022, President Joe Biden granted pardons to thousands of Americans who were convicted of cannabis possession.

CANADA: In 2018 Canada became the second country in the world after Uruguay — and the first G7 major economy — to allow the recreational use of cannabis.

The legislation limits personal possession to 30 grams and four plants per household.

Latin America

URUGUAY: Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalise the production, distribution and consumption of cannabis in 2013. Residents can buy up to 40 grams of weed a month from pharmacies, grow it themselves or join cannabis clubs where members tend the plants together.

MEXICO: Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalised recreational cannabis use in June 2021.


SOUTH AFRICA: In 2018, South Africa’s top court ruled that private, personal cannabis use by adults was legal.

( Read more about medical cannabis )

1 thoughts on “Where is cannabis legal and where illegal?

  1. Elaine Gibson says:

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