The legality of cannabis for recreational use varies by country and there are often misconceptions about whether it is legal, decriminalised or tolerated in certain countries.
In addition, many countries where cannabis is not legal for recreational purposes, the legality is different for medical use.
We can categorise the legality of cannabis for recreational purposes as follows:
The laws regarding specific countries are summarised below:
United Kingdom - Illegal, however, a Weed warning or an on-the-spot fine via a Penalty Notice for Disorder may be issued for simple possession instead of prosecution.
United States of America - Illegal at a federal level, however legalised in 19 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia. Decriminalised in another 12 states and 1 territory.
Netherlands - Illegal, however, the consumption and sale are tolerated in licensed coffee shops. Possession of up to 5g is decriminalised. Cultivation of up to 5 plants is unenforced for non-commercial use.
Portugal - Decriminalised, possession of cannabis in Portugal has been decriminalised in amounts for personal use, considered to be up to 25 grams of plant material or 5 grams of hashish. In 2001 Portugal decriminalized all illegal drugs, meaning that possession of personal amounts (a 10-day supply) is not subject to any penalties for a first-time offense. Subsequent offenses may be subject to civil penalties or mandated treatment.
Spain - Decriminalised, use and possession in private areas is allowed for personal consumption. Public possession or consumption can result in a fine. Cultivation for personal use allowed in private areas including Cannabis Social Clubs.
Italy - Decriminalised, the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use is a misdemeanor and it is subjected to fines, as well as the suspension of personal documents. Cannabis in Italy is legal for medical and industrial uses, although it is strictly regulated.
Canada: Weed was legalised in Canada in 2018 for recreational and medical purposes.
Uruguay: Weeds was legalised in Uruguay in 2013. Uruguay legalised growing up to six plants at home, as well as the formation of Cannabis Social Clubs and a state-controlled marijuana dispensary regime.
Georgia: Weed in Georgia is legal in terms of its possession and consumption due to a ruling by the Constitutional Court of Georgia on 30 July 2018. Large scale cultivation and sale of cannabis remains illegal.
Malta: In December 2021, the Parliament of Malta legalised recreational Weed for personal use, becoming the first EU country to do so.
Mexico: Weed in Mexico became legal for private, recreational use in June 2021, upon application and issuance of a permit from the health secretariat.
South Africa: Weed in South Africa has been decriminalised by the country's Constitutional Court for personal consumption by adults in private. Under the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, there is permission for adults to grow and smoke Weed privately. They can also exchange it with other adults – without the exchange of money.
Thailand: Weed was decriminalised in Thailand in June 2022. Possession, cultivation, distribution, consumption, and sales of all cannabis plant parts are legal.
For further information on Cannabis and the Law > UK Law
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