Countries where Marijuana is Legalized or Decriminalized

Countries where Marijuana is Legalized or Decriminalized

The argument of legalizing marijuana, a drug deemed by some people to be harmful to the body, has been long drawn and squabbled over in various countries all over the world. However, a handful of countries have decriminalized the use of marijuana. Some allow the unrestricted use while some others imposed certain conditions.

Marijuana emanates from the Indian Hemp plant. The flowers (primarily), seeds, stems and leaves of the plant are the parts that contain the drug.

For a long time now, there has been extensive arguments as to whether or not the drug is safe for consumption. Despite a lot of studies backing the former argument, pot has remained illegal in a lot of countries across the world. However, various countries seem to accept the use of the drug, especially for medical reasons.

While various countries have decided to be unrelenting in the criminalization of marijuana, others are passing legislation to either decriminalize or legalize marijuana in some form. A number of countries have even extended the courtesy by shifting the marijuana market into financial profit via the production of different marijuana products.

Let’s take a look at some of the countries where people go to enjoy the unrestricted thrills of Cannabidiol.


canada legalizeAfter 90 years, Marijuana was recently fully legalized in Canada for recreational purposes on June 19th, 2018. However, the legalization will take effect in September 2018 according to the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

Residents and non-residents of age  18-19 years (depending on the province they live) can carry up to 30 grams of marijuana and grow up to four plants in one household.

Anything more than 30 grams or four plants as the case may be, is against the law and could earn the victim a time in jail.




uruguayThis was the first country in the world to permit the consumption of cannabis at any location, including public places. Uruguay completely legalized the consumption and cultivation of cannabis at the end of 2013. Marijuana can also be purchased over the counter conveniently. The sale of recreational pot in pharmacies is even legal. Making Uruguay the first-ever nation to move cannabis through drug store retail. A lot of pharmacies registered with the government since legalization and the number will definitely increase in the coming years.

The country’s cannabis laws require that every consumer decides in a well-defined way to obtain the ‘drug’. They can decide to cultivate it on their own, buy it from a drug store or register with a cannabis club.

Members of these clubs (with a maximum of 45 members), can withdraw 40 grams each month from the club’s cannabis crop. Each individual in Uruguay can purchase a maximum of 10 grams each week.


It is also worthy to note that while marijuana is legal in Uruguay, this courtesy doesn’t extend to foreigners or tourists.
Illegal For Tourist


The turning point in Uruguay’s stance on marijuana came with the 2011 arrest of Alicia Castilla, an author and intellectual who grew cannabis in her home. This arrest led to huge protests and in the long run, laws that allowed cultivation of cannabis at home was implemented. This then paved the way for nationwide legalization that finally occurred in 2017.

Some are still of the belief that the law doesn’t do enough for the legalization of marijuana. The provision that requires buyers of cannabis to first register with the government is particularly frowned upon. Even with this, Uruguay is miles ahead of the pack when it comes to marijuana legalization.


netherlandsTechnically, the sale of cannabis is illegal, but if it is done within certain constrained guidelines, it is tolerated. This means that although marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, you can still buy it from registered coffee shops and you won’t be any problems with law enforcement.

This same principle also applies to the users of cannabis. The only rules they have to follow is:

  • Do not be a minor.
  • Do not have more than 5 grams in your possession at once.
  • Don’t smoke in places where smoking is prohibited.

However, growers are not tolerated by law in the Netherlands. Law enforcement agencies usually spend a huge chunk of their budget raiding grow operations. If caught, the penalties aren’t really minor and an arrest could leave a dent in your criminal record or seize some of your assets.

In the Netherlands, Coffeeshops (not your regular coffee shops) are allowed to sell a maximum of 5 grams a day to individuals above 18. It is alright for these shops to sell weed to customers, but it is actually illegal for them to grow it. In other words, these Coffeeshops are more often than not forced to buy their stash from the black market. To shed more light on this,

Coffeeshops owners are not allowed to buy their product in a legal way, but when this product is inside their shops, it’s allowed for them to sell it. 

Yes, it sounds confusing. However, in Holland, they call it “the backdoor problem”.


Cannabis was actually decriminalized in the Netherlands partly to curb problems associated with other drugs. During that time, heroin addiction was a major issue in the country and Amsterdam was particularly affected. A lot of areas around the city were associated with drug trafficking that ultimately attracted high levels of crime. As research showed that moderate consumption of cannabis was harmless, the Dutch government made a decision to reclassify the drug. This reclassification made it similar to alcohol or tobacco instead of it being treated like a hard substance.

This ruling came into play in 1976 and it ensured that law enforcement could focus on more dangerous drugs rather than struggling to enforce cannabis-related laws. Cannabis became more established in Holland – especially in Amsterdam and other hippy movement cities. The first cannabis Coffeeshops in Amsterdam was created a few years before 1976. They then became semi-legitimate businesses after 1976.


Even though regulations regarding cannabis have changed over the years, the Dutch government hasn’t relented in the implementation of drug policies. These policies are made to reduce harm and maintain peace instead of sanctioning users. Even with this, certified cannabis suppliers have to follow certain codes in order to avoid sanctions.

Czech Republic

Czech RepublicIn the Czech Republic, cannabis is actually illegal for recreational use. However, personal possession of pot has been decriminalized for over eight years now. Also, medical marijuana was made legal on April 1, 2013.

In the last three years, though, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes has been tolerated. Users can have as much as 15 grams of marijuana and 5 grams of hashish. Possession of any amount above the limit or any cannabis-derived drug containing over 0.3% active ingredient is considered a crime.

Additionally, Czech Republic is a venue for three annual Cannabis-related events.

  • The “Cannafest” festival held in Prague is deemed the biggest cannabis related convention in the whole of Europe.
  • The “Konopex” Cannabis fair held in Ostrava.
  • The Million Marijuana March that has been held in Prague since 1998. This march holds simultaneously in 300 different cities as part of the fight for the legitimization of the possession of marijuana in any quantity.

43% of the drug-related offences in the Czech Republic are related to cannabis. Law enforcement agencies usually carry out raids on popular cannabis locations. Smoking in public places (like pubs, cafes, and restaurants) is highly prohibited except if formal permission is given by owners.

There is no punishment for having little quantities of cannabis, but possession of a larger quantity may result in a prison sentence depending on the type of cannabis in possession. Growing more than 5 plants might result in a sentence of half a year to up to 5 years. This will depend on the amount (clause 285, Czech Criminal Justice Code, 2009).

The Czech Republic is very friendly when it comes to the rules regarding marijuana. However, Prague isn’t going to be the new Amsterdam because Coffeeshops are highly prohibited.


switzerlandEven though there’s no explicit provision for medical use of marijuana in Switzerland’s current law. The use of marijuana for medical purposes is unlikely to result in prosecution. Patients looking to use cannabis containing only CBD products have no problem because CBD in Switzerland is legal. CBD is legal as far as it doesn’t contain more than 1% THC. This has resulted in the increase of high-CBD strains of flower that can be purchased and sold in shops around the country.

Until the start of the century, cannabis was cheap and available in Switzerland. The rule had a loophole that allowed cannabis to be grown for personal consumption. Indoor and outdoor grown marijuana could be sold and anyone over 18 could grow cannabis. This changed when Switzerland joined the UN. Though they had to comply with the mandate of the United Nations and cannabis was recriminalized in 2002. However, things changed in 2011 and low THC cannabis (less than 1%) was legal again. Also, for over six years, it’s been decriminalized to have less than ten grams of marijuana.



spainSpain has quickly become one of the most cannabis-liberal countries in Europe due to its relaxed stance towards marijuana. The country is decentralized which means that the laws differ from place to place — giving each province the power to set up its own marijuana laws. Spain is one of best places to consume cannabis and in some instances, even grow. With numerous cannabis clubs, Barcelona has steadily become one of the best weed spots in the world.

Marijuana is the most consumed drug in Spain and up until now, the country does not differentiate between therapeutic and recreational users.


Consumption of marijuana is not prohibited by the Spanish Penal Code. However, this consumption is only for private places. Public use of marijuana is still highly prohibited. With this in mind, you can find a lot of cannabis clubs all over Spain. Only members are allowed to patronize these clubs. For you to join, you must be endorsed by an existing member or directly contact the club.

Despite the fact that the possession and consumption of cannabis are illegal in public places, it isn’t a criminal offence. Although, you can be fined €300 on the spot if caught smoking weed.

Generally, weed purchased in any of the shops shouldn’t be taken out of the property. Anyone who decides to take it out of the premises is doing so at his or her own risk.


Although cultivation of marijuana is technically illegal in Spain, there is actually no criminal sentence associated with purposes that are not commercial. Meaning, marijuana can be grown if it isn’t meant for trafficking. Furthermore, marijuana can be grown on private property, but risk getting confiscated by the police if caught. The Spanish law enforcement attitude towards marijuana is slowly changing and law reform pertaining to marijuana is gradually taking place too.

Regardless of the fact that marijuana hasn’t been fully legalized, it has been decriminalized — there is no punishment for marijuana cultivation unless there is evidence that it is being grown in a visible place or for the purpose of trafficking.

Even with its laws, Spain is quickly becoming the cannabis Mecca for Europe. It’s not just easy to get pot, it’s also easy and comfortable to smoke it in Spain.


PortugalA law was passed in 2000 that formally decriminalized the consumption and possession of every illegal drug, including cannabis — as far as they are in small quantities and are for personal consumption. Use and consumption are still considered as administrative offences and are sometimes punished using fines or rehabilitation orders. However, many cases are usually suspended in practice. Where the amount is more than the one deemed appropriate for personal use, individuals may be subject to imprisonment of up to one year. Also, a fine of up to 120 day-rates might be handed to the individual. Day rates are a kind of financial penalty popular in Europe that is based on the offender’s daily wage.

In Portugal, individuals found with little quantities of drugs for personal use cannot be subject to criminal penalties.

This quantity shouldn’t exceed the appropriate amount suitable for an individual (with ten days usage). If this happens, the drugs will be seized and the case will be transferred to a local commission with the aim of implementing a rehabilitation strategy. Majority of cases like this usually end with the suspension of legal proceedings and just 10% of the cases are actually punished with fines. Also, an individual may decide not to undertake a treatment order (if issued) without incurring any penalty.

Portuguese law clearly states what constitutes a daily personal requirement as follows:

  • Heroin – 0.1g;
  • Cocaine – 0.2g;
  • Cannabis – 2.5g;
  • Hashish – 0.5g;
  • Delta-9-THC – 0.05g; and
  • Amphetamine – 0.1g.

Though many commercial varieties exceed it, the potency of hashish is assumed as no more than 10% and cannabis no more than 2% in THC.


Like in other countries, cultivation of cannabis is illegal in Portugal. This even applies to small crops meant for personal use. Portuguese law specifies that while there’s a repeal of custodial sentences for drugs, there is an exception in the case of cultivation. Even after fifteen years of decriminalization, law enforcement in Portugal remain steadfast in their inflexibility towards the cultivation of cannabis.

Other Countries

The following countries have in one way legalized or decriminalized the use of cannabis:


In Colombia, cannabis is illegal for public consumption and commercial sale. However, like in most countries in this article, certain therapeutic uses and personal cultivation and consumption are decriminalized. The Colombian government in 2012 decided to decriminalize the possession of 20 grams or less and the personal cultivation of 20 plants or less of cannabis.


As a whole, Russia has more liberal drug laws than the U.S. In Russia, the possession of six grams of marijuana or two grams of hashish has been decriminalized. Interestingly, before 2006, inhabitants could possess up to 20 grams of cannabis and five grams of hashish! This changed when drug policy became stricter.


In 2009, Mexico decriminalized the possession of five grams of cannabis, half a gram of cocaine and 50 milligrams of heroin for “personal use”. Any individual caught with that much or less will be offered drug treatment instead of an arrest. The country also passed its first medical cannabis bill in 2017, but this is limited to products with 1% THC or less.


In Ukraine, cannabis is illegal, but there’s a decriminalization of five grams without the intention to sell. Unlike in most countries, the cultivation of ten plants or less without the intention to sell in Ukraine is decriminalized. Rather, it is referred to as an “administrative violation” that may attract a fine or the seizure of the plants.


After Mexico, this country is the second biggest producer of cannabis on the black market in the world. Like Mexico and most parts of Latin America, Paraguay has legalized therapeutic cannabis and decriminalized personal use possession. Citizens here can carry up to 10 grams for personal consumption, but they cannot cultivate their own plants.


According to a report by the United Nations, six percent of the Estonian population smoke weed – which puts them in the top 30 marijuana-smoking nations in the world. Even with this, public opinion of the plant remains low in the country. However, this hasn’t stopped the decriminalization of the possession of up to 7.5 grams of cannabis. This is only punishable by a fine. Cultivation is illegal and possession of larger amounts or intent to distribute might land an individual in jail for up to five years.


With the long list of  Countries where Marijuana is Legalized or Decriminalized. We would have to assume and admit that it won’t be a long time before a large number of countries following suit.

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