2018 has been an incredible year for the movement to end cannabis prohibition worldwide. This year, many countries around the world made positive moves when it came to reforming laws surrounding cannabis, as did several U.S. states. As this year comes to an end, here at Weediom we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at the legality of cannabis worldwide and provide our readers with an up-to-date list of places where cannabis is legal.
While some countries on this list have legalized only the medicinal use of low THC oils, others have reformed their cannabis laws to allow for responsible and regulated consumption. Without further ado, here is your 2018 end-of-the-year world cannabis legalization update.
Argentina allowed for medical cannabis use in certain provinces at the end of 2017. Argentina currently allows only national medical authorities to produce and distribute cannabis. The country has also decriminalized cannabis in small amounts for private consumption.
Medical cannabis is legal throughout Australia; however, the qualifying conditions that allow you to become a medical cannabis patient vary by state, as do other details. Australia has also decriminalized cannabis in small amounts for personal use in South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory.
Austria decriminalized the possession of cannabis for personal use in January 2016 and is home to a legal cannabis program that allows cannabis-derived products.
Canada legalized a medical cannabis program in 2001, and on Oct. 17, 2018, cannabis became legal across the country for recreational use and cultivation. While most of the details are the same, what is allowed varies by province.
Chile legalized the cultivation of medical cannabis as well as allowed for the sale of medical cannabis through pharmacies via a prescription in 2014. It also decriminalized the personal use and recreational cultivation of cannabis.
Columbia offers a legal medical cannabis industry that went into effect in late 2015. If you have a federal license from the National Narcotics Council or the Health Ministry, you can grow, process, import, and export medical cannabis and cannabis derivatives legally.
Croatia offers a limited legalized medical cannabis program for patients with terminal illnesses. Possessing small amounts for personal consumption is a misdemeanor and results in a fine rather than jail time.
The Czech Republic legalized medical cannabis use in 2013. It also decriminalized the possession of 15 grams or less for personal use and cultivation of up to 5 plants. It initially decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams in 2010 but extended it to 15 grams in 2014.
Denmark offers a comprehensive legal medical cannabis program, and while cannabis remains illegal for recreational use, authorities rarely enforce this.
Cannabis is legal for medical use in Georgia, but it does not have a regulated market from which patients can obtain their medication. In July 2018, a ruling legalized the possession and consumption of cannabis for recreational use.
Germany legalized medical cannabis use in 2017 for seriously ill patients who have exhausted all other therapeutic alternatives. Recreational cannabis use remains illegal, but under federal law, prosecution for the possession of small amounts of cannabis is optional for authorities.
Although India is known for bhang, a beverage form of cannabis, the plant remains illegal in most of the country. Authorities, however, rarely enforce the prohibition of cannabis, and some states such as Uttarakhand and Gujarat have taken steps to legalize or decriminalize the plant in small amounts.
Israel is the leading authority in cannabis-related research. After taking steps to legalize medical cannabis in the 1990s, the country made many groundbreaking discoveries regarding the plant and how it interacts with the endocannabinoid system. In April 2019, Israel is set to decriminalize the recreational consumption of the plant.
In 2014, Italy legalized medical cannabis use for residents with a doctor’s recommendation. To obtain a recommendation, patients must have exhausted all other therapeutic options and are only able to use cannabis for a handful of reasons. Italy also recognizes religious use of cannabis and has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Medical cannabis use is legal in Jamaica, and the first dispensary opened in 2018. In 2015, the country decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, including 2 ounces and up to 5 plants for personal use. Cannabis use is completely legal for Rastafarians as well.
Luxembourg offers a legal medical cannabis program and decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2001. Those found in possession are subject to a monetary fine rather than incarceration.
Macedonia legalized medical cannabis use in 2016. However, the plant remains highly illegal for possession and consumption.
Malta took steps in 2015 to legalize cannabis-derived products. But as of the beginning of 2018, its cannabis program had not treated any patients. In 2018, the president signed legislation that approved medical cannabis with a prescription. However, the legislation does not provide specific details on which conditions may be treated or which products may be used. Malta decriminalized the possession of up to 3.5 grams of cannabis for personal use in 2015. Unfortunately, authorities can still arrest individuals caught with less than 3.5 grams for the sole purpose of collecting intelligence on drug trafficking.
Mexico has long been known for its cannabis production despite the illegality of it. In 2009, the country took steps to decriminalize the possession of 5 grams or less for personal use. A series of rulings have occurred since 2015 that have declared it an unconstitutional violation of human rights and a violation to the free development of one’s personality to prohibit individuals from growing or consuming cannabis for medicinal or personal reasons. Medicinal cannabis became officially legal across the country in 2016, and consumption and possession have been legal since 2018 under specific regulations.
Although the Netherlands has been a popular cannabis destination for tourists for many years, cannabis remains illegal for personal use; authorities, however, do not widely enforce this. The Netherlands tolerates the sale and consumption of cannabis in many licensed coffee shops across the country. The country also decriminalized the possession of 5 grams or less and offers a comprehensive medical cannabis program.
Peru decriminalized the possession of up to 8 grams of cannabis for personal use, and it offers a comprehensive medical cannabis program. However, the cultivation, production, and distribution of cannabis remain highly punishable, with 8 to 15 years of incarceration.
In Poland, the possession and use of cannabis for medical reasons is legal. However, the drug may not be produced or sold in the country for medical purposes. The country decriminalized cannabis, in a sense, in 2011. It put regulations in place that gave prosecutors the option to pursue criminal charges against those caught with cannabis.
When it comes to the legalization of cannabis, Portugal leads the pack. In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use and possession of all drugs, including cannabis. In Portugal, the possession of 5 grams or less of hashish or 25 grams or less of cannabis is decriminalized. The country also offers a comprehensive medical cannabis program.
Puerto Rico legalized the medicinal use and possession of cannabis in 2015, allowing for licensed cultivators to cultivate cannabis in the state. The first dispensary sale took place in 2017.
In South Africa, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal. Although it does not have a regulated industry that allows patients to obtain cannabis products from a dispensary, it decriminalized the consumption, possession, and cultivation of cannabis for personal use across the country in 2018.
South Korea has a limited medical cannabis program. It allows eligible patients to use cannabis-derived drugs, such as Epidiolex, Marinol, and Sativex, but does not allow them to possess, consume, or cultivate the plant itself.
Spain hasn’t exactly legalized or decriminalized medical or recreational cannabis use. However, it has certain parameters in place, and if you stay within them, the chances of you being detained or punished are very unlikely. Spain permits the use and possession of cannabis in private areas. Consumption in public could result in a hefty fine, though. Possessing large amounts of cannabis could land you a drug trafficking charge. If you’re using cannabis medicinally, it is legal as long as you are using one of the few cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals that are allowed. You can even grow your own cannabis in small amounts for personal use as long as no one can see the plants from the street or other public spaces. None of this, however, is officially on the books.
Sri Lanka legalized medical cannabis use through an amendment in colonial law in the 1980s as well as through the Ayurveda Act. If the cannabis you are using was bought from an ayurvedic shop, it is legal for personal and religious use. Cultivation of cannabis in Sri Lanka is also legal under the purview of the government.
Switzerland offers a comprehensive legal medical cannabis program. In 2012, it decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis for personal use. If you are caught with 10 grams or less, you could still be subjected to a fine. There is, however, no risk of incarceration.
Turkey offers some leniency when it comes to medical cannabis use. It has taken steps to legalize cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals and to allow for the cultivation of cannabis.
The United Kingdom has a limited medical cannabis program and legalized cannabis use for a small number of patients, specifically those who experience severe epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
Cannabis use is illegal in all forms at the federal level in the United States. The only exception is pharmaceuticals like Epidiolex, Marinol, and Sativex. Thirty-three U.S. states, however, have legalized comprehensive medical cannabis programs, each with specific regulations and restrictions in place. And 10 U.S. states have legalized cannabis use in small amounts for adults over the age of 21.
Residents over the age of 18 can legally consume and possess cannabis for recreational or medical purposes in Uruguay. The cultivation of up to 6 plants is also legal. The only legal cannabis sales in the country, however, are with cannabis that has been grown by authorities in the country for the sole purpose of distribution. Foreigners still cannot purchase cannabis in Uruguay.