Countries Where Cannabis Is Legal

A list of countries where cannabis is legal for medicinal and/or recreational use.

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North America

The United States of America and Canada are the only North American countries where recreational cannabis is legal at the federal level. In the USA, cannabis is legal in some states for recreational use, while in others it is only legal for medicinal purposes. In Canada, cannabis was legalized for both recreational and medicinal use in 2018.

United States

In the United States, the use and possession of cannabis is illegal under federal law for any purpose, by way of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. However, a growing number of states, territories, and the District of Columbia have enacted more liberal laws regarding cannabis. In December 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first U.S. states to legalize recreational use of cannabis under state law. As of January 2017, a total of eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use. On November 8, 2016, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine voted to legalize recreational use (as did D.C.), while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota voted to legalize medical use only. Use remains illegal at the federal level.

Canada

On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second and largest country with a legal, nationwide cannabis market. Adults in Canada are now able to purchase fresh or dried cannabis, cannabis oil, and plants and seeds for cultivation in accordance with the Cannabis Act.

Cannabis products must be purchased from licensed retailers in provinces and territories where it is legal to do so. It is not currently legal to sell cannabis products online.

Possession, production, and sales of cannabis are still illegal under Federal law in the United States. However, a growing number of states have legalized some or all forms of marijuana for medical or recreational use.

South America

Uruguay was the first South American country to legalize cannabis and regulate its production, sale, and consumption. Cannabis legalization in Uruguay took effect in 2017. The Uruguayan government has licensed two companies to grow and sell cannabis. Uruguayan pharmacies began selling cannabis in July 2019.

Uruguay

Cannabis was decriminalized in Uruguay in 1974. The personal possession of up to 40 grams of cannabis and the cultivation of up to six plants was made legal in 2017. Cannabis sales in Uruguay are expected to begin in July 2018.

Chile

In 2015, Chile became the first South American country to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. The Chilean government established a program that allows for the legal cultivation of up to 99 plants for personal use. In addition, cannabis-based products are available for purchase at pharmacies across the country.

Europe

Europe has long been a leader in drug policy reform, with several countries decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use years ago. Now, a number of European countries are taking steps to legalize and regulate cannabis.

Spain

Cannabis in Spain is illegal for recreational use, but possession of small amounts for personal consumption is decriminalized while pro-legalization and medical legalization campaigns continue. Attitudes towards the drug began to change at the beginning of the 21st century, culminating in a partial decriminalization in 2015 and full legalization in 2017.

History

Cannabis was first introduced to Spain by the Moors in the 8th century. It was used medicinally and as a textile fiber. In 1567, Philip II prohibited its use except by pharmacies and for “extraction of their oils or their concoction.” Despite this, use continued throughout the country. In 1837, Miguel Cabrera proposed legalizing hemp production for industrial purposes. A commission appointed by Queen Isabella II recommended against it, however, because of the high risk of abuse.

Netherlands

The Netherlands is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and it’s also well known for its relaxed attitude toward cannabis. While it’s technically illegal to grow or sell cannabis in the Netherlands, the government has a policy of tolerance toward possession and use. This means that you can purchase and consume cannabis in coffee shops without fear of legal repercussions. Amsterdam is the best-known city for marijuana tourism, but other Dutch cities like Rotterdam and The Hague also have lively cannabis cultures.

Asia

Thailand became the first country in Asia to legalise medical cannabis in December 2018, when parliament passed amendments to the Narcotics Act. The amendment legalises the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and research. As of February 2019, the amendment has not yet been implemented, but the government has said that it plans to do so within the next year.

Israel

Cannabis is legal in Israel for medical use only. However, recent steps have been made to decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug for personal use. Despite these changes, large-scale cannabis production and distribution remains illegal.

Medical cannabis was first legalized in Israel in 1992, making it one of the first countries in the world to do so. In 1996, the country established a medical cannabis program overseen by the Ministry of Health. To be eligible for medical cannabis in Israel, patients must be over the age of 18 and have a doctor’s recommendation. Patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and pain from injury or surgery are some of the conditions that are commonly treated with medical cannabis in Israel.

In 2017, Israel’s parliament passed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. The law went into effect in early 2018. Under the new law, possession of up to 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of cannabis is punishable by a fine rather than jail time. The maximum fine that can be imposed is 1,000 shekels (approximately $280).

Despite these changes, large-scale production and distribution of cannabis remains illegal in Israel. Penalties for these offenses include jail time and large fines.

Nepal

Nepal is a country located in southern Asia, between the Tibet autonomous region of China and India. It is home to Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Cannabis has been decriminalized in Nepal, as of September 2018. Prior to that, it was illegal but widely tolerated. Police officers were instructed not to arrest people for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Oceania

Oceania is a vast continent that contains many different countries, each with their own laws and regulations. When it comes to cannabis, there is a wide range of legalities across the continent. In some countries, cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes, while in others it is completely illegal. Let’s take a look at the countries of Oceania and their cannabis laws.

Australia

Cannabis is legal for medical and personal use in Australia. The country has a long history of decriminalization, with some states decriminalizing cannabis as early as 1987. However, it was not until 2016 that the country passed nationwide legislation allowing medical cannabis. Personal use of cannabis remains illegal, but this may change in the future as several Australian states have recently signaled their intention to decriminalize or legalize it.

New Zealand

Cannabis is technically illegal in New Zealand but the plant is regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. This means that while it is not legal to possess or use cannabis, the penalties are not as severe as if it were a Class A drug. In December 2018, theNew Zealand government announced plans to hold a referendum on the legalization of cannabis for personal use by 2020.

Possession of up to 28 grams (one ounce) of cannabis is decriminalized in New Zealand, meaning that first-time offenders will not receive a criminal record. They may, however, be fined up to $500. Offenders who are caught with more than 28 grams of cannabis may be fined or sentenced to three months in jail.

Cultivation of cannabis plants is also decriminalized, but only for personal use. This means that people can grow up to two plants without risk of being fined or jailed.

It is still technically illegal to buy or sell cannabis in New Zealand, although this is likely to change if the referendum passes in 2020.

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