Cannabis Legality

Cannabis Legality

The legality of cannabis varies from country to country, depending on its possession, distribution, cultivation, and (regarding therapeutic uses) the mode and reason for consumption. For the first time, the plant was banned in the United States (starting in 1937, with the enactment of the Marijuana Tax Act, signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt). Subsequently, the prohibition of the plant extended to many other countries especially in the West. In 1996, California was the first state in the world to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes after the aforementioned prohibition period.

Countries that have legalized the medical use of cannabis include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland and the United Kingdom. In the United States, 31 federal states have legalized the medical use of the plant.


Afghanistan: illegal. Cultivated for centuries in the country, Mohammed Zahir Shah made it illegal along with opium.

Albania: illegal, prohibitionist law exists, however there is a high availability of Cannabis plants in the country. The law is often not enforced.

Algeria: illegal.

Andorra: illegal.

Angola: illegal, known locally as diamba or liamba, there are cultivations in all provinces of the country.

Antigua and Barbuda: illegal. The country is not a producer, and imports the plant from Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Argentina: legal only for possession of up to 5 grams of dried inflorescences for private use.[2] Legal for medicinal purposes.

Armenia: illegal, although there are some small cultivations in the country, directed for local use.

Australia: illegal in Tasmania and New South Wales, decriminalized in the remaining states. Legal for therapeutic use.

Austria: legal for therapeutic use, but illegal for recreational use. Possession of small amounts of cannabis was decriminalized in 2016. The sale of cannabis seeds and plants is legal.

Azerbaijan: illegal, but grown illegally, being historically used for medical purposes.


Bahamas: illegal.

Bahrain: illegal.

Bangladesh: illegal, but often not prosecuted. Sale was banned in 1989. Cannabis possession is illegal, with penalties ranging from 6 to 15 years in prison. Despite this, cannabis is sold in many parts of the country on the edge of legality.

Barbados: illegal. The high demand for the plant causes it to be imported from Jamaica and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines via speedboats.

Belarus: illegal, both the use and the cultivation.

Burma: illegal. In 2017, a young man was executed for possession of several packets of cannabis.

Belgium: illegal, but decriminalized up to 3 grams of possession for adults. The Belgian government has begun a research program aimed at establishing its medical efficacy.

Belize: illegal, but decriminalized up to 10 grams. Cannabis use is highly tolerated in the country, but possession can lead to jail time.

Benin: Illegal.

Bhutan: illegal, but grows prolifically in the country and has multiple traditional uses, such as animal feed or textile production. In the Dzongkha language, the textile fiber made from cannabis is called kenam.

Bolivia: Illegal, but decriminalized up to 50 grams.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: illegal. In 2016, the Minister of Affairs formed a task force with the purpose of studying the medical benefits of cannabis.

Botswana: Illegal. It is also called dagga in the country.

Brazil: illegal, but decriminalized in case of possession of amounts less than 20 grams, considered recreational use.

Brunei: Illegal. Dealing can lead to the death penalty.

Bulgaria: Illegal. Classified as a type A drug, on par with heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy.

Burkina Faso: Illegal.

Burundi: illegal.


Central African Republic: illegal.

Czech Republic: It is legal to possess up to 15 grams of Marijuana, it is also legal to grow this plant species for personal use. Sale is prohibited. Legal the use for therapeutic purposes.

Cambodia: formally illegal, prohibition is permissive and opportunistically enforced. In Phnom Penh, the capital, there are many restaurants that offer recipes containing cannabis.

Cameroon: Illegal to cultivate cannabis sativa, those suffering from cancer or AIDS may use it as a painkiller.

Canada: legal for both medicinal and recreational use, on June 20, 2018 the Canadian parliament with 52 votes in favor, 29 against and 2 abstentions, through the Cannabis Act legalizes cannabis for recreational purposes allowing citizens to grow up to a maximum of 4 plants at home.

Cape Verde: illegal, but illicitly produced and trafficked.

Chad: Illegal.

Chile: In 2005, the private and personal use of cannabis was officially decriminalized. As of 2014, cultivation for medicinal and recreational purposes is allowed. The sale of cannabis-derived medicines has been legal since 2015.

China: illegal since 1985, considered a harmful and narcotic drug.

Cyprus: illegal with maximum penalty of 8 years for possession (2 years on first warning and under 25 years of age), legal therapeutically for cancer patients

Colombia: illegal but decriminalized for possession up to 22 grams. You can possess up to 20 plants for personal consumption. Legal to use for medicinal purposes.

Comoros: illegal. It was made legal by Ali Soilih, third president of Comoros, from 1975 to 1978.

Costa Rica: illegal but decriminalized, cannabis use is tolerated in the country. Authorities do not arrest those who bring a small amount (not yet specified) for personal recreational use.

Croatia: illegal but decriminalized, possession of any amount leads to a fine of 700-3200€. Since 2015 it is used therapeutically for cancer subjects.

Cuba: illegal. The sale and consumption for recreational purposes is illegal. Penalties start from 2 up to 15 years in prison.


Dominican Republic: illegal.

Djibouti: illegal.

Denmark: Illegal for recreational use, however the law is not often enforced by authorities. Legal for therapeutic use. The self-declared independent micronation of Christiania is famous for its cannabis trade.


East Timor: illegal.

Equatorial Guinea: illegal.

Ecuador: Illegal, but decriminalized in cases of possession of less than 10 grams.

Egypt: Illegal, but sometimes the law is not enforced.

El Salvador: illegal.

Eritrea: illegal.

Estonia: illegal, up to 7.5 grams are considered personal use, and are punished with a monetary penalty.

Ethiopia: illegal, despite being the birthplace of Rastafarianism (as some Rastafarians use it for meditative use).


Fiji: illegal.

Finland: Illegal. Since 2001, cases of personal use are not prosecuted, but a fine is imposed. Since 2006, the use of cannabis therapeutically has been legal under license. In 2014, 223 licenses were issued.

France: illegal. Penalties of up to one year in prison are imposed on the user, but the Ministry of Justice (to which the prosecutors’ magistrates are subordinate) recommends that no criminal prosecutions be initiated against casual users. The police, in case of flagrant offence, can only intervene for deterrence purposes.


Gabon: illegal.

Gambia: illegal.

Georgia: Legal since July 2018 (following the decision of the Georgian Constitutional Court) possession and consumption (both recreational and therapeutic), but not dealing.

Germany: Legal under 0.2% THC, decriminalized possession of modest amounts (within 10 grams). Legal for therapeutic purposes with a medical prescription.

Greece: Illegal, but if you are in possession of small amounts the court may decide they are for personal use. Possession of large quantities can lead to several years of imprisonment. Legal use for therapeutic purposes.

Grenada: illegal.

Greenland: illegal, but widespread in the country.

Guatemala: illegal.

Guinea: illegal.

Guinea-Bissau: illegal.

Guyana: illegal, possession of more than 15 grams is considered drug trafficking.


Haiti: illegal.

Hungary: Illegal. There is no distinction between soft and hard drugs; consuming cannabis carries a penalty equal to heroin use.

Honduras: illegal.

Hong Kong: Illegal.


Ivory Coast: illegal.

India: illegal at the federal level, tolerated or legal in the states of Bihar, Orissa, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, and those in the northeast. Decriminalized in Gujarat.

Indonesia: illegal since 1927.

Iran: illegal, but not prosecuted. In 1989, the Iranian government established a death penalty for anyone possessing more than 5 kilograms of hashish.

Iraq: illegal.

Ireland: illegal.

Iceland: illegal, banned in 1969.

Israel: illegal, medical use is only authorized by the Ministry of Health, which evaluates each individual case, but consent is often not issued.

Italy: Illegal to sell (even for free), but not the possession for personal use, which is only an administrative offense punishable by fine, but that does not stain the criminal record. In order to determine whether the possession is for personal use or for transfer to third parties, the judge evaluates each individual case to decree whether it can fall under the criterion of “personal use”, taking into account the quantity found, the possible presence of cash and tools for dosing and packaging the substance. With a judgment of 19/12/2019, the Supreme Court ruled that cultivation does not constitute a crime if it is “of minimal size and carried out in a domestic form, through rudimentary practices and on a small number of plants”. It is instead allowed the sale of Cannabis light , with maximum threshold of narcotic principle (THC) set between 0.2% and 0.6%.


Jamaica: Legal possession up to 56.60 grams and cultivation up to 5 plants. Rastafarians (since there are many members in Jamaica) can use, possess and cultivate cannabis without any restrictions within places of worship. The law was passed on February 25, 2015.

Japan: illegal all preparations containing THC since 1948, following a law introduced by US occupation forces at the end of World War II.

Jordan: illegal.


Kazakhstan: illegal.

Kenya: illegal.

Kiribati: illegal.

Kosovo: illegal.

Kuwait : illegal, possession carries a penalty of 2 years imprisonment to the death penalty.

Kyrgyzstan: illegal.


Laos: illegal, but not prosecuted. Use in public is punishable by 12 months in prison. As of 2009, a death penalty is provided for some cases. Despite the prohibitionist law, some cannabis markets are widespread in the country.

Lesotho: Illegal, but tolerated. In 2000, it was estimated that more than 70% of South Africa’s cannabis came from Lesotho. In 2017, it became the first African state to grant a license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes. Latvia: illegal, possession of modest amounts can be sanctioned with 15 years in prison. Possession of more than one gram provides a fine of 280€.

Lebanon: illegal. Hashish has been illegal since 1926, cannabis cultivation since 1992.

Liberia: illegal.

Libya: illegal.

Liechtenstein: illegal.

Lithuania: illegal.

Luxembourg: Legal possession and use for medical purposes, provided the user is an adult and does not involve minors.


Marshall Islands: illegal.

Macao: illegal.

Madagascar: illegal, but produced and consumed locally

Malawi: illegal, but widely cultivated.

Malaysia: illegal. There is a death penalty mandate for drug traffickers. Persons in possession of 15 grams of heroin or 200 grams of Marijuana are considered traffickers.

Maldives: illegal.

Mali: illegal.

Malta: Illegal but decriminalized possession up to 3.5 grams. Legal to use for medicinal purposes.

Mauritania: illegal.

Mauritius: illegal.

Morocco: illegal. However, it is the largest producer and exporter of hashish in the world.

Mexico: illegal, but decriminalized for personal use. Legal for medicinal purposes, but only if the plant has a THC content of less than 1%. Four people have obtained (after an appeal to the Supreme Court) an administrative authorization from the Government that allows them to legally cultivate and consume cannabis for recreational purposes.

Micronesia: Illegal.

Moldova: Illegal, but decriminalized.

Monaco: illegal.

Mongolia: illegal.

Montenegro: illegal.

Mozambique: illegal.


Netherlands: Legal, according to specific regulations; see “Netherlands Drug Policy”.

North Macedonia: illegal, with a penalty of 3 months to 5 years imprisonment. Therapeutic use of the plant was legalized in 2016.

Namibia: illegal.

Nepal: illegal. Cannabis became illegal in the country during the Maha Shivaratri.

Nicaragua: illegal.

Niger: illegal.

Nigeria: illegal.

Norway: Recreational use is illegal. Therapeutic use is legal.

North Korea: illegal the use and sale according to Swedish diplomat, resident in North Korea, Torkel Stiernlof are illegal, although it seems that the use of hemp is tolerated by the rural population.

New Zealand: illegal (the Ministry of Health has stated that a medical use is not excluded, but further studies and a method for proper regulation are needed). The Health Committee of the New Zealand Parliament recommends easing cannabis laws and making cannabis-based medicines available.


Oman: Illegal.


Philippines: Illegal. Possession, importation and sale of cannabis are sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine.

Pakistan: illegal, but usually not prosecuted.

Palau: illegal.

Panama: illegal.

Papua New Guinea: illegal.

Paraguay: illegal, but decriminalized up to 10 grams.

Peru: illegal. Legal use for therapeutic purposes.

Poland: Illegal importation, production, sale and possession. Possession is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment, while sale is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Sale to a minor is a felony punishable by 3 to 15 years imprisonment.

Portugal: Decriminalized possession since 2001, buying and selling is a felony.


Qatar: illegal.


Rep. of Congo: illegal. Cannabis is known as mbanga in the country.

Romania: illegal.

Russia: illegal, but possession up to 6 grams is decriminalized.

Rwanda: illegal.


Saudi Arabia: illegal. Use and possession are sentenced with a minimum sentence of 6 months in prison. Trafficking in cannabis can lead to the death penalty.

Solomon Islands: illegal.

San Marino: illegal except for therapeutic use, San Marino’s political party San Marino 3.0 has proposed to legalize cannabis and all soft drugs with a referendum during San Marino’s 2012 political elections.

Saint Kitts and Nevis: illegal.

Saint Lucia: illegal.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: illegal.

Samoa: illegal.

Sao Tome and Principe: illegal.

Senegal: illegal.

Serbia: illegal. Possession is punishable by a fine or imprisonment for three years. Cultivation is punishable by imprisonment for 6 months to 5 years.

Seychelles : illegal.

Sierra Leone: illegal, banned since 1920.

Singapore: illegal, banned since 1870. If you are in possession of 500 grams of cannabis, you are considered a drug dealer, with a possible death penalty.

Syria: Illegal. A reporter in possession of cannabis was jailed for life by the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Slovakia: Illegal. Possession of small amounts is punishable by up to 8 years imprisonment.

Slovenia: Illegal, but decriminalized. Pharmaceutical use is legal for an amount of THC less than 0.2%.

Somalia: illegal.

Spain: Legal for personal cultivation, which can also be done collectively (in Cannabis Social Clubs) and consumption in private places.

Sri Lanka: Illegal, but recreational use decriminalized. Therapeutic use has been legal since 1980, as has cultivation.

South Africa: Illegal to buy and sell. Legal for medicinal purposes. Legal for consumption and personal cultivation for recreational purposes.

Sudan: Illegal.

South Sudan: Illegal.

Suriname: Illegal.

Sweden: Illegal.

Switzerland: Illegal possession and cultivation of cannabis as a narcotic (THC >1%). Legalization experiments have been and are being conducted in some cantons. Switzerland voted on a popular initiative to decriminalize the use of hemp on November 30, 2008, but it was rejected by Swiss voters with 63.2% against. Since January 1, 2012, in the cantons of Vaud, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Fribourg, it is allowed to grow up to 5 plants per person in their home, but with a THC content of less than 1%, i.e. light cannabis.


Taiwan: illegal, possession carries about three years in prison.

Tajikistan: illegal.

Tanzania: illegal.

Thailand: illegal, but often not prosecuted. Possession, cultivation, and transportation of a quantity of 10 kg or more results in a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, or a fine.

Trinidad and Tobago: illegal.

Togo: Illegal.

Tonga: illegal.

Tunisia: illegal since 1953. Use or possession carries from 1 to 5 years imprisonment, in addition to a penalty of approximately 1000-3000 Tunisian dinars.

Turkey: illegal to use. Cultivation for medical purposes is legal in 19 provinces of the country. Possession, purchase or receipt of any quantity is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison. Trafficking is punishable by a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Turkmenistan: illegal.

Tuvalu: illegal.


United States: illegal to use at the federal level for any reason, however 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation contemplating exemption from prohibition for medical use. In November 2012, voters in the states of Colorado and Washington chose to legalize personal use up to one ounce (28.35 g) and implement licenses for recreational cultivation and distribution. In November 2014, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia also legalized recreational cannabis sales; these were joined by California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada following the November 2016 Referendum. As of January 2018, Vermont became the ninth U.S. state to legalize recreational cannabis, and the first to do so by parliamentary action. Illinois has come out in favor of legalization, which will be officially implemented in January 2020.

United Kingdom: illegal (in 1998 the House of Lords recommended that cannabis be made available for medical use by prescription. After some clinical trials, the government did not accept the recommendation). Recently, personal home use has been decriminalized.

United Arab Emirates: illegal

Uganda: illegal.

Ukraine: illegal, but decriminalized possession up to 5 grams. Cultivation is decriminalized up to ten plants.

Uruguay: Uruguay was the first state in the world to legalize the cultivation and sale of Marijuana in December 2013, making it a state monopoly.


Vatican City: illegal.

Venezuela: Illegal. Possession of about 20 grams is punished with a prison sentence of 1-2 years.

Vietnam: illegal, but often decriminalized.


Yemen: illegal.


Zambia: illegal. Cultivation is legal if you have a license issued by the Minister of Health.

Zimbabwe: illegal. Therapeutic use is legal.



“By regulating Marijuana, we can put black market drug dealers out of business and eliminate the rebellious allure that attracts young people”.

(Sal Albanese)

Originally posted 2021-08-03 20:24:16.

Author: Ronald Rogers
Sunny Dupree is a seasoned journalist, keynote speaker and founder of Weed America: A Journalism-Minded Agency, which handles public relations, content marketing, social media, events and thought leadership for brands and executives in legal cannabis, hemp technology, alternative healthcare, and other new industries.