A trot around the globe to see where and how marijuana is allowed

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First and second countries to legalize marijuana

Canada has just legalized the recreational use of marijuana. It is the second country to legalize the plant’s recreational use.The Cannabis Act was passed on Tuesday, 19 June 2018 in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the herb can be grown, distributed and sold. Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally from September. Adults over the age of 18 will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams.


Uruguay was the first country to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use in 2013. Residents are free to cultivate, consume and distribute cannabis without punishment and the country recently allowed the sale of cannabis in local pharmacies.

It has also been legalized in several US states.


Where in the world is marijuana legal?

North Korea In North Korea you can smoke, sell and cultivate cannabis.

Costa Rica Costa Ricans are allowed to have a “small amount” of marijuana. But there is no specific guideline for exactly how much constitutes a “small amount.” A medical marijuana bill is undergoing revision.

Spain respects the rights of private citizens to grow and consume cannabis. There are more than 800 dispensaries in Spain where cannabis can be obtained. Selling marijuana is however not allowed. Catalonia legalized cannabis in 2017.

Illegal, but OK

The Netherlands Contrary to common belief, marijuana is illegal in the Netherlands, but as long as you’re not bothering anyone, officials generally turn a blind eye. In Amsterdam, social use is acceptable. Residents and visitors can buy marijuana in coffee shops where it can be consumed inside or outside the premises.

Jamaica has long been associated with ganja (weed, herb, pot, grass, Mary Jane) because of Bob Marley and the Rastafarian religious movement, but marijuana was only decriminalized in the country in 2015. The country recently introduced its medical marijuana programme.

Germany In Germany, recreational and medical marijuana users generally feel safe when it comes to possession and consumption. Recreational users may be fined if caught, but there is no criminal implication.

Portugal In Portugal small quantities of marijuana for personal use are legal, but must be consumed privately. Growing the plant however is illegal and cannabis seeds are prohibited.

Argentina In Argentina you may consume cannabis, but it’s illegal to sell, transport or cultivate the herb. When it comes to medical marijuana, however, cannabis is available to qualified patients for free.

India In India, you can drink Bhang, a cannabis drink, but no other cannabis use is tolerated.

Czech Republic In the Czech Republic medical marijuana is legal for locals and it may be consumed in urban areas, but not in public.

Australia In Australia, it depends on where you are. Some Australian states have decriminalized marijuana while others enforce strict punishments for possession. Medical marijuana is allowed in very limited cases and the criteria vary from region to region. Personal use is decriminalized in the Northern Territory, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.

Italy In Italy medical and religious consumption is fine, but personal use is illegal.


Mexico In Mexico up to 5 grams of cannabis is decriminalized. In 2016 Mexico’s Senate approved a bill that would allow medical marijuana use by adults.

Switzerland While the cultivation, sale and use of cannabis is illegal in Switzerland, possession is decriminalized for small amounts.

Cambodia In Cambodia police look the other way if locals are found in possession of cannabis.

Israel Israeli citizens can possess small amounts of cannabis without a criminal penalty. Smoking in public, however, is not tolerated and carries a fine.

Up to 5 grams of cannabis is decriminalized in Austria while in Belgium you can possess up to 3 grams legally. Other countries that have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis include Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Georgia, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Paraguay, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the Virgin Islands.

The above is not a complete list which would be very long. Source: marijuana.com

The South African situation

In 2017 the Western Cape High Court declared certain sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines Act inconsistent and invalid with the Constitution.

According to the landmark ruling it is an infringement to ban the use of marijuana by adults in private homes. The court has also ruled that Parliament must change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act, as well as the Medicines Control Act.

Before the court decision takes effect, the Constitutional Court must confirm the declaration of invalidity. If confirmed, it will be suspended for some months to allow parliament to correct the defects as set out in the judgment.

This means that once the suspension period has passed, cannabis may be used by an adult in private dwellings where the possession, purchase or cultivation of cannabis is for personal consumption by an adult.

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