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Cannabis Regulation Around the World

World Map of Medical Marijuana

There has been immense progress in the legalization of medical cannabis in countries around the world, including some that have legalized or decriminalized the plant for adult recreational use. 

Nonetheless, navigating the many jurisdictions can be tricky. The rules and regulations surrounding cannabis vary wildly from country to country. And though some countries are on the verge of positive change (ie, decriminalization or legalization), others still have regressive policies. 

Staying up-to-date with cannabis laws is a must for cannabis patients who find themselves having to travel for work, vacation, or any other reason.

The following guide, while not legal advice, is your first stop for learning about the different legal statuses of cannabis around the world.  We have classified each country’s laws about medical cannabis (legal, illegal, or partially legal) and recreational cannabis (legal, decriminalized, or illegal).

Please note that the United States is represented only on a federal level on this page. A state-by-state breakdown of cannabis legalization can be found here.

Jump to:
Europe
Asia
Middle East
North America
Central & South America
Africa
Oceania

Europe

Europe Medical Marijuana Map

Albania

Although cannabis is forbidden in Albania, people buy and sell cannabis products with near impunity and penalties are barely enforced. Since Albania is trying to become a part of the EU, police have begun to crack down harder on cannabis production and trafficking.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Austria

It’s complicated in Austria — the sale of cannabis seeds and plants is legal, but actual cannabis use isn’t. Austria decriminalized the possession of recreational cannabis in 2016 and has a fledgling medical program, which allows for the import includes dronabinol and Sativex. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: illegal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Belarus

In Belarus, the situation is simple: cannabis is totally illegal regardless of intended use. This country of 9 million has banned cannabis cultivation, too.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Belgium

Belgian’s liberal stance extends to its views on cannabis. Cultivation and personal use are decriminalized — if they’re kept small-scale. Belgium’s medical program is closely regulated and allows pharmaceutical cannabis only. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Bosnia and Herzegovina

This small country became a major cannabis producer following the Bosnian war, but the cultivation and consumption of the plant are currently illegal. Bosnia might be on the cusp of change, however, with a government task force investigating the issue and medical cannabis patients demanding legalization. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Bulgaria

Changes have come to Bulgaria’s cannabis laws, but they’ve actually been for the worse. While recreational, “personal doses” were legal until 2004, today cannabis is classified as a Class A (high risk) illegal drug alongside heroin and cocaine. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Croatia

Recreational cannabis is decriminalized in Croatia — but only barely. While illegal cultivation or production outside of the country’s highly regulated medical cannabis program, which makes allowance for patients with cancer or AIDS, carries mandatory prison sentences ranging from six months to 12 years, possession of ‘small amounts’ is a misdemeanor punishable by fines. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (severe cases only)

Cyprus

Cannabis is a class B substance in this small country. That means punishment starts at two year’s prison time, even for first-time offenders under the age of 25. On a brighter note, Cyprus has a fledgling medical cannabis program that could reportedly produce 204 million Euros of cannabis per year. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal

The Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has taken a lenient approach to recreational cannabis use, and allows possession of less than 10 g or cultivation of less than 5 plants. Medical cannabis has been available since 2013 for those with cancer, AIDS, MS, and other severe diseases. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (severe cases only)

Denmark

In Denmark, it’s medical cannabis only — the country is currently in its second year of a four-year pilot program designed to improve medical cannabis programs. Possession of small amounts up to 9.9 grams usually carries a fine. Danes who want to circumvent these rules have the (highly controversial) option to ‘trade’ recreational cannabis in an autonomous Copenhagen neighborhood called Freetown Christiania

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (severe cases only)

Estonia

This small country has decriminalized up to a quarter ounce (7.5g) of recreational cannabis, though higher amounts can lead to a hefty five-year prison sentence. Those who want access to pharmaceutical-grade medical cannabis can have it, but only if they’re approved and get a personal permit.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (with permit)

Finland

Finland and medical cannabis go way back. Medicinal use with a permit has been legal since 2008 but only a very limited number of patients have actually received such a permit. Though recreational cannabis is illegal, possession of “petty” amounts is often punished by fines or not at all. The cultivation and sale of recreational cannabis are still strictly illegal and carry severe penalties. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (with permit)

France

This normally laid-back country has some of the strictest regulations for both recreational and medical cannabis in Europe, but has recently taken a more relaxed approach. As of November 2018, the penalty for personal use was reduced from €3,750 and a one-year prison sentence to €50- 200 fine. The country’s medical program, initiated in 2013, only allows a select few cannabinoids, though broader ‘experiments’ might begin soon. 

Recreational: illegal (personal use partly decriminalized)
Medical: legal

Georgia

As of 2018, a Constitutional Court ruling allows the possession and consumption of cannabis in Georgia.  However, the cultivation and sale of cannabis is still forbidden, leaving recreational users and patients in a complicated legal situation. 

Recreational: legal (only possession and consumption)
Medical: legal (only possession and consumption)

Germany

Recreational cannabis is illegal, but its consumption is viewed as a sort of “self-harming” punishment to the extent that criminal charges are often dropped for smaller amounts. Definitions of personal use vary from state to state and range between 6-15 grams. Beginning in 2017, medical cannabis was made available for patients who have exhausted their more conventional options. 

Recreational: illegal (personal use partly decriminalized)
Medical: legal

Greece

Recreational cannabis use is entirely illegal in Greece, while medicinal cannabis users can get their medication with a license. In 2018, the government also allowed the cultivation and production of medical cannabis hoping for a much-needed cash influx. While the licensing process to start a growth operation is lengthy and complicated, dozens of companies are currently hoping to enter the Greek market.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Iceland

Iceland’s stance towards any type of cannabis is, well, icy. Cannabis has been banned since 1969, with the sale and cultivation of the plant being punished severely. Even those who wish to use cannabis in private are subject to arrest and fines. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (severe cases only)  

Hungary

Hungary makes no distinction between cannabis and hard drugs and its production, sale, and consumption are punished accordingly. While first-time users have a good chance of receiving a reprimand, a suspended sentence or probation order, penalties, even for personal use, can range from one to two years for small amounts and one to five years for larger amounts. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Ireland

Ireland started an ambitious five-year pilot program in June 2019 and requests for medical access are approved on a case-by-case basis by the Minister of Health. While recreational cannabis use is against the law, police have a level of discretion when dealing with cannabis users and can decide not to arrest offenders. When convicted, first- and second-time offenders will receive large fines, while third-time offenders can be jailed for one to three years.

Recreational: illegal (personal use partially decriminalized)
Medical: legal (on a case-by-case basis)

Italy

Italy takes a logical (if strict) approach to cannabis. Low-THC cannabis (.6% or under) is decriminalized for all but can lead to fines and loss of privileges such as passports and drivers licenses. The cultivation of cannabis is allowed only with a special license or for non-pharmaceutical purposes.  Italy also plans to import 400 kilograms of cannabis for its new medical programs over the next two years. 

Recreational: illegal (personal use partially decriminalized)
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Kosovo

Cannabis is illegal in Kosovo. Though widely cultivated for domestic use, law enforcement has taken an aggressive stance and regularly raids illegal growth operations.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Kyrgyzstan

All forms of cannabis are illegal in Kyrgyzstan. Though several leaders have suggested reform, not much has happened yet.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Latvia

Latvia takes a harsh stance against cannabis. Possession of only one gram is punishable by a fine of €280 euros, while large quantities carry the risk of long-term imprisonment.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Lichtenstein

Both medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in Lichtenstein. With only 8 percent of the country’s 37,000-strong population using the plant, it seems Lichtenstein has a long way to go before popular opinion changes. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Lithuania

While recreational cannabis is illegal in Lithuania, the country made allowances for doctor-recommended medical cannabis in 2018. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Luxembourg

Cannabis use has been largely decriminalized, though transportation is punishable by either imprisonment or fines of up to 2,500 euros. Medical cannabis has been legal in the country since 2018, That same year the government announced it would make recreational use of cannabis legal, but has yet to announce a timeline.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal

Malta

Cannabis is decriminalized in Malta — as long as one possesses under 3.5 grams. Even so, drug use remains an arrestable offense, and authorities often capitalize on the chance to gather intelligence on drug trafficking. Medical cannabis with a prescription was made legal in 2018, but legislators did not specify which conditions would be able to be treated with cannabis.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Moldova

Cannabis is decriminalized in Moldova, though users commit an ‘administrative offense’ and may be sanctioned with a small fine. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: illegal

Monaco

Cannabis, both recreational and medicinal, is illegal in Monaco. Laws against cannabis are fairly strict but are often not enforced and possession and consumption of small amounts is quietly tolerated by authorities.   

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Montenegro

Cannabis is illegal for any purpose and, perhaps not surprisingly, also hard to find.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Netherlands

Despite being famous for its cannabis-centric ‘coffee’ shops, recreational cannabis is actually illegal in the Netherlands. Recreational use of cannabis is, however, widely tolerated and the drug can be bought in licensed shops. Personal use of up to five grams as well as the cultivation of up to five plants are decriminalized. Medical cannabis has been legal in the Netherlands since 2003.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal

North Macedonia

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Macedonia with even the possession of small amounts carrying a prison sentence of six months to three years. Medicinal use, however, has been allowed since 2016. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Norway

Norway is currently decriminalizing cannabis. While in the past possession was an imprisonable offense, today efforts are being made to replace harsh punishment with medical therapy. Amounts up to 15 grams are considered personal use and punished with a fine in the case of first-time offenders. Medical cannabis is legal. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Poland

Cannabis is illegal in Poland, but since 2011 prosecutors can decide not to prosecute for possession of small amounts. Possession of large amounts, however, can be punished by up to 10 years in prison. Polish law does not define what “small” or “large” amounts are. Similar to US Federal law, low-THC cannabis is legal — and medical cannabis is, too.  

Recreational: illegal (personal use partially decriminalized)
Medical: legal

Portugal

Portugal is about as progressive as it gets. Small-scale cannabis use (under 25 g herb / 5 g hashish) has been decriminalized since 2001. Medical cannabis is legal, too! 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal

Romania

Recreational cannabis is forbidden, with even small-scale users at risk of prison time. Medical cannabis is legal, albeit closely regulated — cannabis-derived drugs are only allowed if they contain less than 0.2% THC.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Serbia

Possession of both recreational and medicinal cannabis is punishable by either a fine or imprisonment of up to three years. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Slovakia

In Slovakia, cannabis use is highly illegal. Possession of even small amounts of the plant could lead to as many as eight years in prison.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Slovenia

Cannabis has been decriminalized in Slovenia, although cannabis-related commerce is strictly prohibited. The country also has a medical program comprised of cannabis-derived pharmaceutical drugs. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Spain

Spain allows private cultivation and use, though public consumption hasn’t yet been decriminalized. Selling or importing cannabis s could lead to jail time. Cannabis-derived drugs provide a simple medical cannabis program.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: illegal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Sweden

The Swedish government has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy towards cannabis smokers. Medical use is also regulated, with only a select few cannabis-derived drugs (like Sativex) allowed.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Switzerland

The Swiss decriminalized cannabis earlier than most; since 2010 possession of under 10 grams results in nothing more than a fine.  Medical cannabis is legal, too, though regulations allow for only a single cannabis-derived drug. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal 

Ukraine

Cannabis is illegal in Ukraine, but possession of up to five grams as well as the cultivation of up to 10 plants is merely an administrative offense that will lead to a fine. However, detention of up to 15 days is possible. Steps are currently underway to legalize medical cannabis.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: illegal

The United Kingdom

Recreational cannabis is illegal, though police can issue a ‘cannabis warning’ for small amounts that will not lead to a fine. Medical cannabis can be permitted by a licensed doctor. Cannabis has been considered a class B drug since 1928. 

Recreational: illegal (personal use partially decriminalized)
Medical: legal (with prescription)

Uzbekistan

Cannabis of all sorts is illegal. In fact, any plant with a psychoactive component is forbidden for cultivation or consumption.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Vatican City

Cannabis is illegal in the Vatican and its consumption or distribution will lead to arrest. As recently as 2014, Pope Francis was quoted exhorting his followers to not do drugs of any kind.  

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Asia

Afghanistan

Cannabis cultivation and consumption have been banned since 1973. That said, illegal production is rampant, and cannabis remains ingrained in the local culture. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Armenia

While both recreational and medical use of cannabis are illegal in Armenia, the country eased its stance on recreational consumption in 2003. Authorities reduced jail time from two years to two months, instead raising fines. Even so, illegal cannabis cultivation persists. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Azerbaijan

Cannabis of all sorts is banned, but illegal cultivation continues and its medicinal use has a long history in the country. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

China

Hemp and China go way back, and today the non-psychotropic plant is still grown  for industrial and ritual purposes alike. Yet, possession of cannabis is strictly illegal and reportedly punishable by detention (up to 15 days) and fines. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Georgia

As of 2018, a Constitutional Court ruling allows the possession and consumption of cannabis in Georgia.  However, the cultivation and sale of cannabis is still forbidden, leaving recreational users and patients in a complicated legal situation. 

Recreational: legal (only possession and consumption)
Medical: legal (only possession and consumption)

Hong Kong

Cannabis is classified as a “dangerous” drug — and it’s punished accordingly. Penalties for possession include up to seven years in jail and HK$1 million in fines. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

India

Cannabis is illegal in India, though the sheer size of this country makes enforcement difficult. Some government-owned shops sell cannabis in the form of bhang, a traditional cannabis-infused drink. Cannabis itself is known as ganja, and its legality varies from state to state. 

Recreational: illegal (except for bhang)
Medical: illegal

Japan

Use and possession are punishable by up to five years imprisonment and a fine. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a major exporter of cannabis; many of the country’s fields are used to cultivation the crop, and ruderalis-type plants grow wild in nature. Nonetheless, cannabis use itself is banned.  

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Laos

Cannabis is illegal and public usage can lead to a 12-month prison sentence. Since 2009, certain cannabis-related offences even carry a mandatory death sentence.Despite harsh legislation, cannabis-related offenses often go unpunished and cannabis infused products are sold openly and abundantly. 

Recreational: Illegal
Medical: Illegal 

North Korea

The difference between official reports and reality is less than clear in North Korea, as some state that the country’s laws don’t mention cannabis at all, while other sources insist it’s nonetheless illegal.

Recreational: unknown
Medical: unknown

Russia

Russia takes hard-line approach to cannabis, making it entirely illegal. Possession of up to six grams is punishable by a fine of 5,000 RUB or 15 days of detention, while possession of larger amounts is a more serious criminal offense. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

South Korea

South Korea is the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis, which they did in November 2018. For now, however, only cannabis-derived drugs like Sativex and Epidiolex are permitted only a select few patient groups are eligible. Recreational use is still strictly outlawed and is punishable by up to five years in prison or steep fines.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal  (cannabis-derived drugs only)

Macau

Although cannabis being illegal in Macau, the country is a known hub for illicit cannabis smuggling. Cannabis can be obtained domestically,  but buyers pay a high price, both in financial and legal terms. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Malaysia

Malaysia has infamously strict laws, and cannabis law is no different: there’s a mandatory death penalty for convicted “drug traffickers,” aka anyone possessing more than 200 grams (7 ounces) of cannabis. Anyone in possession of 50 grams or less can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Singapore

Cannabis is a class A drug. That means it’s illegal on pretty much all fronts: to cultivate, sell, or possess. Possession of over 500 grams places offenders into drug trafficking territory, an offense punishable by death. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Sri Lanka

Cannabis can be bought legally from Ayurvedic herbal shops in Sri Lanka. Personal possession is largely decriminalized, and medicinal use is legal.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal

Taiwan

Cannabis use comes with huge risks in Taiwan; possession of any amount of the plant can lead to three years of imprisonment, while planting or trafficking carries a punishment of at least seven years and even death.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Tajikistan

Cannabis is illegal in Tajikistan and possession and distribution carry harsh sentences. However, due to the prevalence of opium trade in the country, cannabis is largely overlooked.   Police still occasionally crack down on cannabis users, although foreigners are reportedly less targeted.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Thailand

The possession, cultivation, or transport of up to 10 kilograms of cannabis may result in up to five years of jail time or a fine. However, cannabis is sold openly in many places and can be easily found, especially in areas with tourists. On the bright side, medical cannabis has been legal since 2018. 

Recreational: illegal, though often unenforced
Medical: legal

Turkmenistan

Cannabis is entirely illegal in Turkmenistan, but that hasn’t stopped the country from becoming a major transit hub for the illicit cannabis and opioid trades. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Vietnam

Cannabis use is fairly common in major Vietnamese cities, but partake at your own risk. The law includes a death penalty for both personal use and trafficking but these laws are seldomly enforced.

Recreational: illegal, but often not enforced
Medical: illegal

Maldives

Cannabis is illegal in the Maldives, but the tourism industry seems to keep under-the-table cannabis trade going.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Mongolia

Cannabis of all sorts is illegal in Mongolia. But the plant grows naturally throughout most of the country, making many regulations unenforceable. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

The Middle East

Bahrain

Bahrain has strict laws against cannabis of every sort — though they don’t seem to be broken often. The last known conviction for possession and cultivation of cannabis occurred in 2014, when a person who possessed over 700 grams of hashish was sentenced to 12 months in jail and fined.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Egypt

Recreational use of cannabis is widespread in Egypt, and prosecution over minor offenses is rare. But smugglers be warned: that crime is punishable by death.

Recreational: illegal, but often not enforced
Medical: illegal

Iran

Unofficial reports say that recreational cannabis use is widespread in major cities.  Yet anyone in possession of more than five kilograms of hashish should be aware that they risk the death penalty.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Iraq

Though cannabis use is technically punishable by a fine of up to 10 million dinars and/or two years’ imprisonment, Iraqi authorities country rarely enforce cannabis-related laws. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Israel

As the birthplace of cannabis research, it’s only fitting that Israel has a robust medicinal cannabis program.  There’s allowances for personal use, too, as long as it occurs in a private setting. Public possession remains punishable by fines and eventual criminal charges for repeat offenders.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal

Jordan

Narcotic offenses can be punishable by death, and even first-time possession results in prison time of two years.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Michael Schaeffer Omer-Manmichael@cannigma.com

Kuwait

Use and possession of cannabis, even for personal use, can result in a two-year jail sentence plus fines. Passively ‘facilitating’ cannabis use is illegal, too.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Lebanon

Products like hashish have been banned since 1926, but cannabis cultivation is still prevalent. Laws against personal use are rarely enforced — if said use is done in private. In April 2020, the Lebanese parliament passed a law legalizing the cultivation of medical cannabis and hemp.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: cultivation is legal

Oman

Oman’s laws are intolerant to cannabis and consumers are heavily punished, yet the country is still a common smuggling route for illegal cannabis from Afghanistan.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Pakistan

Hashish smoking in Peshawar and other Northern areas of Pakistan is well-tolerated. Smoking in other parts of the country, however, might lead to six months in jail.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Qatar

Among Qatar’s strict laws are heavy-handed punishments for cannabis use. In an infamous 2017 case, a man was sentenced to 10 years in jail for possession of 1.5 kilograms of hashish. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Saudi Arabia

Cannabis is clearly prohibited in Saudi Arabia: personal possession can lead to six-plus months of jail time, while cultivation and trade may lead to execution. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Syria

Possession of cannabis may result in a lifelong prison sentence in Syria. Nonetheless, the country’s ongoing civil war has seen civilians in militia-controlled territories growing cannabis to get out of poverty.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Turkey

Consuming drugs of any kind, including cannabis, is illegal. Medical cannabis use is permitted under strict conditions. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (cannabis-derived drugs only)

United Arab Emirates

Cannabis users beware. Even small amounts of cannabis — one British man was ‘caught’ with .003 grams — are equated with a mandatory four-year prison sentence. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Yemen

Up until recently, Yemen was Saudi Arabia’s principal source of illicit drugs. That includes illicit cannabis, which has been grown since the 1200s.

Recreational: Illegal 
Medical: Illegal

North America

Antigua and Barbuda

The possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis (or cannabis resin) is decriminalized. Most cannabis sold in Antigua and Barbuda is imported from Jamaica, but authorities often turn a blind eye to this. 

Recreational: illegal (personal use decriminalized)
Medical: Illegal

Bahamas

Don’t risk cannabis use in the Bahamas, recreational or otherwise. If convicted, any type of cannabis possession is subject to a fine of at least $50,000 and/or imprisonment of at least five years.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Barbados

Though recreational cannabis is illegal in Barbados, high demand for the plant means it’s often imported from Jamaica. Government leaders are looking into the option of forming a robust medical cannabis program in the near future. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Bermuda

Recreational use is decriminalized. Medical cannabis has been legal since 2016 — but, as of July 2018, only two doctors have been licensed to prescribe it! 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal 

Canada

Medical cannabis has been legal since 2001, and as of 2018 recreational cannabis is legal, too!  Regulatory standards (like minimum age limits for consumers) vary from province to province. Canada also closely regulates its market’s supply chains and  online cannabis sales. 

Recreational: legal
Medical: legal

Haiti

Cannabis is illegal in Haiti, despite it being a major transit country for drug trafficking. Things may improve in the future: in July of 2018 Haiti was included in a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) list of nations that are reconsidering cannabis legislation. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Cuba

At the start of 2017, Cuban authorities seized triple the amount trafficked cannabis than they did within the same part of the previous year. It’s safe to say that cannabis use is not tolerated.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

The Dominican Republic

Possessing any amount of cannabis is a punishable offense in the Dominican Republic. The minimum sentence for possession of under 20 grams of cannabis is six months in prison and a fine of $1,500 Dominican pesos. 

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Jamaica

Possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis is decriminalized, and practitioners of Jamaica’s native Rastafari faith may use cannabis for religious purposes. The country also has a standalone medical cannabis dispensary.

Recreational: legal for Rastafari, decriminalized for personal use
Medical: legal 

Mexico

Possession of cannabis has been decriminalized for a while, and a Supreme Court ruling from 2018 even prevents authorities from enforcing the law. Personal use of cannabis is de-facto legal, but lawmakers still need to amend the law. 

Recreational: legal
Medical: legal (if under 1% THC)

United States

Cannabis is illegal for both recreational and medical use on a federal level in the United States. It is legal medically and/or recreationally in 33 states, which are represented on a separate map.

Recreational: illegal (federally)
Medical: illegal (federally)

South & Central America

Argentina

Recreation cannabis has been decriminalized since 2009 — so long as it’s for personal use and/or consumed in private locations. The Argentine Senate approved the medical use of CBD-rich cannabis oil in 2017.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: Legal 

Belize

Cannabis use in Belize is common and largely tolerated. But possession of more than 10 grams can result in fines or imprisonment. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: illegal

Bolivia

Although illegal, cannabis is frequently cultivated for black-market consumption. Consumers that get caught are (usually) only subjected to rehabilitation and treatment programs. 

Recreational: deciminalized
Medical: illegal 

Brazil

Personal cultivation and use of the cannabis plant have been decriminalized since 2006. Yet punishments can still include a warning, possible community service, and mandatory education. Medical cannabis is legal, though options are limited to the cannabis-derived pharmaceutical drug Sativex

Recreational: illegal
Medical: legal (Sativex only)

Chile

Cultivation of medical cannabis is legal upon authorization from the Chilean Agriculture Service (SAG). And a bill allowing Chileans to grow up to six cannabis plants per home for “medical, recreational or spiritual reasons” passed in the lower house of Congress in 2015, so expect further improvements in the near future.

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal 

Colombia

In 1994, Columbia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the possession of cannabis (or other drugs, for that matter) for personal use was tolerated. Even individuals carrying more than 22 grams of cannabis or cultivating up to 20 cannabis plants can’t be prosecuted if it was all for personal use. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal 

Costa Rica

Personal cannabis use is legal, though it’s unclear how much cannabis one can possess within the confines of “personal” consumption. Consequently, cannabis is widespread throughout the country. 

Recreational: decriminalized
Medical: legal 

Ecuador

While neither recreational nor medicinal cannabis are fully legal in Ecuador, possession of under 10 grams is decriminalized as “personal use.”

Recreational: illegal (personal use decriminalized)
Medical: illegal 

El Salvador

In 2014, over 700 people protested in the capital city of San Salvador in favor of decriminalizing cannabis. Yet surveys are still showing that public opinion is not in favor of cannabis.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Guatemala

A constitutional commission rejected proposals to legalize cannabis in 2016. That means both recreational and medicinal cannabis are still illegal. People convicted of personal use are subject to less stringent punishment, but the term is not defined, putting even small-time users at risk of up to 20 years; imprisonment.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Guyana

Consumption of any type of cannabis is illegal in Guyana, but still grown and consumed in the country. Those caught with more than 15 grams can be charged with drug trafficking.

Recreational: illegal but widespread
Medical: illegal

Honduras

Cannabis use, both recreational and medical, is illegal in Honduras. While people have been able to claim medical reasons for their cannabis use, it is still not legal. People caught with cannabis can expect to spend a few days in prison, while foreigners have been able to claim they did not know it was illegal in the country.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Mexico

Possession of cannabis has been decriminalized for a while, and a Supreme Court ruling from 2018 even prevents authorities from enforcing the law. Personal use of cannabis is de-facto legal, but lawmakers still need to amend the law. 

Recreational: legal
Medical: legal (if under 1% THC)

Nicaragua

Nicaragua is in the middle of the drug smuggling route between South America and the United States, and cannabis carries a negative connotation in the country. Getting caught with even a small amount of cannabis can result in jail sentences (of up to 30 years!) and heavy fines.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Panama

Panama’s proximity to Colombia makes it a major thruway for drug trafficking. Possession of even the smallest amounts of cannabis can lead to a year in prison.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal 

Paraguay

Although illegal, cannabis consumption and possession (of up to 10 grams) are virtually decriminalized.

Recreational: illegal (personal use decriminalized)
Medical: illegal 

Peru

The possession of under 8 grams of cannabis is virtually un-punishable. Medical cannabis has been legal — and well-regulated — since 2017.

Recreational: illegal (personal use decriminalized)
Medical: legal 

Trinidad and Tobago

The personal possession of up to 30 grams for an adult and up to four plants per household was decriminalized in late December, 2019. Using marijuana in public places remains illegal.

Recreational: illegal (personal use decriminalized)
Medical: illegal

Uruguay

Cannabis use is legal in Uruguay so long as it’s over the table. Only authorized sources can grow the plant, and its buyers must be 1) eighteen or older, 2) residents of Uruguay, and 3) registered with the authorities.

Recreational: legal 
Medical: legal

Venezuela

The possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis (or five grams of genetically modified marijuana) is punishable by one to two years in prison. Consumers only found guilty of personal use typically get a lighter sentence: mandatory rehabilitation programs. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Africa

Algeria

Algeria isn’t known to be a major consumer of hashish, in spite of its trafficking-friendly location. Cannabis possession and use are punishable by 6-24 months’ imprisonment, while trafficking can carry the death penalty.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Angola

Cannabis is the most common illicit drug in Angola — one can find it in almost every province. Though drug arrests are relatively infrequent, penalties can be severe.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Benin

Cannabis is the only drug produced locally in Benin, though cultivation is mostly small-scale. Both recreational and medical cannabis are illegal. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Botswana

Cannabis is the most widely used psychotropic substance in Botswana. Though the law forbids its use, tourists who consume the herb often get only a warning.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Burkina Faso

Cannabis is illegal in Burkina Faso and the government is clamping down between 2009 and 2011, cannabis seizures doubled. Cannabis abuse is a problem in the country and law enforcement authorities are taking their job seriously.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Burundi

Cannabis is illegal and both consumption or cultivation are punishable by fines ranging from 100 to 100,000 francs. According to reports, these laws are rarely enforced. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Cameroon

While BBC reports from 2001 stated that Cameroon might legalize medical cannabis, nearly two decades later the situation has not changed and cannabis remains illegal. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Cape Verde

The most trafficked drug in Cape Verde is cocaine, which is sometimes combined with locally-grown cannabis to create a substance called cochamba. Cannabis is illegal, but law enforcement authorities aren’t making a special effort to combat its use.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Central African Republic

Cannabis of every kind was made illegal during the Central African Empire administration (1976–1979). As of 2019, little has changed.  

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Chad

Although cannabis is sometimes illicitly cultivated in Chad, less than one percent of the population is using it.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Democratic Republic of Congo

The DRC is one of the largest cannabis producers in all of Africa, though most of what’s grown goes towards local consumption. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Djibouti

Though thought to be the main source of drugs and arms sent to Yemen, cannabis is not widely available. Both the sale and possession of the plant are punishable by long prison sentences and fines.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Equatorial Guinea

Cannabis of any type is illegal in Equatorial Guinea, though the police tend to look the other way whenever the herb is smoked publicly.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Eritrea

Cannabis is cultivated on a small scale in Eritrea, and though consumption is illegal, fines or bribes are often enough to get off clean. Harsher punishments are reserved for drug trafficking.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Ethiopia

Although the spiritual birthplace of the Rastafari movement, cannabis of all types is illegal. Mere possession can result in up to six months’ imprisonment.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Gabon

Practically anything related to cannabis is illegal in Gabon. Possession and selling are both punishable by 6-24 months in prison, plus a fine. Cannabis cultivation is also strictly prohibited.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Gambia

Known locally as yamba or tie, cannabis is the most used illegal drug in the country. All this, despite the fact that users are heavily punished with prison sentences that can span decades. Even Westerners charged with possession have been detained for 10 years.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Ghana

Ghana is among the top cannabis-producing countries of West Africa, and the plant is widely consumed. Even so, consumption of cannabis is illegal without a permit from the minister of health.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Guinea

Though cannabis is known to be cultivated illicitly, the number of reported cannabis seizures in Guinea is the African continent’s lowest.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Guinea-Bissau

Cannabis is illegal but well-tolerated — after all, cocaine is considered a much bigger issue. Cannabis trafficking may even be facilitated by this country’s army.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast produces some amount of cannabis for domestic consumption, though everything is illegal, under the table, and unlikely to impress the average cannabis connoisseur. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Kenya

Cannabis consumption is normally punished by fine. In rare cases, offenders are detained or even prosecuted. Cannabis is popular, too; one out of every 10 people is estimated to use it.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Lesotho

Cannabis cultivation is often allowed in practice — if and only if harvests are exported to other countries. Otherwise, cannabis is still illegal. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Liberia

Cannabis is widely cultivated and consumed throughout the country. Even so, the police are now making efforts to enforce cannabis’s decidedly illegal status. Discretion is advised — nowadays, fines and jail time are among the possible outcomes of consumption. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Libya

Cannabis is more associated with drug trafficking than anything else; only .05% of the population is using it. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Madagascar

Though cannabis is illegal, it’s still produced and consumed domestically. Cannabis-related arrests are rare — but if they occur, they can result in imprisonment. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Malawi

Malawian cannabis is famous for its quality. Even so, the plant is officially forbidden and police are stepping up efforts to combat illegal activities

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Mauritania

Cannabis is illegal, and attempts at cultivation are usually fought by the occasional police raids. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Mauritius

Cannabis is illegal in Mauritius but not entirely uncommon. A 1974 report noted that cannabis was smoked in cigarette rolls and clay pipes, mixed into cakes or sweets, or drank in the form of bhang

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Morocco

Cannabis has been officially banned since 1974. You wouldn’t know it based on the premium-quality hashish that Morocco consistently produces, however. Cannabis use is partially tolerated and legislation rarely enforced.

Recreational: illegal but not often enforced
Medical: illegal

Mozambique

The use of cannabis is widespread and generally tolerated. Drug traffickers, however, are heavily punished by up to 15 years of jail time.

Recreational: illegal but tolerated
Medical: illegal

Namibia

Possession of any drug is subject to 20 years in jail. That includes cannabis. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Niger

Like so many other African countries, cannabis is cultivated in Niger but not widely used. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Nigeria

Nigeria is a major source of African-grown cannabis and the plant is widely used. However, possession is actually punished by up to 12 years in prison.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Republic of the Congo

Known as mbanga, cannabis has a long and storied past. It was even used by local militias to enhance bravery. Today, however, the plant is illegal. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Rwanda

Cannabis is illegal and often associated with a lower social class called the twa. In 2010, the minister of health offered to legalize medical cannabis. As of 2019 this hasn’t happened yet.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

São Tomé and Príncipe

Even though it’s illegal, cannabis is often trafficked. Cannabis is available on the black market but illegal possession of cannabis can be punished severely.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Senegal

Cannabis is cultivated in many parts of Senegal, mostly for domestic use. Some say the government rarely enforces cannabis’s illegal status since it’s more profitable than other farmable crops.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Seychelles

While both the recreational and medical use of cannabis is illegal in the Seychelles, the country’s Constitutional Court, in 2019, ordered the government to make regulations for the medical use of cannabis within two years. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal (process of legalization underway)

Sierra Leone

Even though it’s been banned since 1920, cannabis is so common in Sierra Leone that it’s sometimes free. Authorities are concerned that the cultivation of cannabis is being favored over nutritional crops — and thus threatening food security.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Somalia

Cannabis is popular in Somalia, so popular that some Somalian warlords support it. Stricter bans on cultivation are just now starting to be enforced. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

South Africa

Adult use of cannabis in South Africa is legal if it’s kept private, and CBD products have been permitted for medical use.

Recreational: legal 
Medical: legal

South Sudan

Cannabis isn’t legal in South Sudan, nor is it very common.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Sudan

Sudan is the largest producer of cannabis in Africa, with revenues estimated to be in the billions. Along the same lines, recreational cannabis use is common, especially among young people and students.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Suriname

Cannabis is illegal in Suriname; in fact, it’s the Country’s most popular illegal drug. Both cannabis and harder drugs (like cocaine) are often trafficked throughout the area. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Swaziland

Cannabis is widely grown in Swaziland, despite the fact that it’s illegal. According to this 2017 report, the government is looking into the option of legalizing cannabis.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Tanzania

Cannabis is medicine in Tanzania — though not officially. In rural areas it’s used to treat ear-ache, fever, and malaria. Farmers also back cannabis, testifying to its cash-crop status. Even so, authorities seize cannabis fields every now and then. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

The Comoros

Though fully illegal today, cannabis enjoyed a brief moment of legality under then-president Ali Solih from 1975 to 1978.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Togo

Cannabis is illegal in Togo. A 1995 report noted that the plant was Togo’s only drug crop, though it wasn’t exported for black market sale.

Recreational: illegal
Medical: illegal

Tunisia

Possession of any kind of cannabis in Tunisia is punishable by one to five years in prison and a fine of 1000-3000 dinars (equivalent to  500-1500 USD).

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Uganda

Cannabis is the only drug routinely produced within Uganda. Though the plant is technically illegal, Ugandan officials are considering legalization at the request of global cannabis companies

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Zambia

Zambia is a land of conflicting reports — in 2017, Home Affairs Minister Steven Kampyongo stated that it’s legal to cultivate cannabis for medical use if a license is obtained from the Minister of Health. That same year, however, he admitted to having no intention to produce such licenses. For now, cannabis remains illegal. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Zimbabwe

The use of recreational cannabis is punished by up to 12 years in jail. Medical cannabis is allowed for certain medical conditions, though said allowances require a special license from the government that must be renewed every five years.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: legal

Oceania 

Australia

Cannabis is decriminalized for personal use in many parts of Australia, including the Northern Territory, South Australia, and Capital Territory, with fines or “intervention requirements” the extent of one’s punishment.  Medical use has been legal since 2016, but the conditions required for eligibility may vary.

Recreational: illegal (personal use decriminalized)
Medical: legal

Fiji

Along with Papua New Guinea, Fiji is one of the main producers of cannabis in Oceania. Home cultivation has been largely phased out by a growing black market. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Kiribati

Cannabis is illegal, and even people caught with only small quantities are severely punished.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Micronesia

Cannabis is the second most popular psychoactive substance in Micronesia, second to only alcohol. It is especially popular in the state province of Chuuk. All this despite it being illegal.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

New Zealand

Possession of any amount of cannabis is considered a crime. Yet recreational use is increasingly common and a referendum on the legalization of cannabis will be held in 2020. In the meantime, medicinal cannabis is legal for certain conditions and as a part of one’s end-of-life-care. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Palau

Though cannabis is illegal, reports indicate that the plant is widely produced and consumed. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Papua New Guinea

Along with Fiji, Papua New Guinea is one of the main producers of cannabis in Oceania. However,possession of the plant can lead to up to 20 years in jail.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Samoa

Cannabis is illegal in Samoa and punished with severe sentences. if prosecuted,  the maximum penalty for possession is 14 years’ imprisonment.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Solomon Islands

According to this country’s police force, cannabis can lead to “long term health and dependency issues.” Cannabis is banned entirely and offenders prosecuted. 

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Tonga

Cannabis is illegal, but it’s still cultivated illicitly. Cannabis-related arrests are common, and according to some reports even hemp clothing is frowned upon.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Tuvalu

Cannabis is illegal in Tuvalu. That includes both recreational and medical use.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: illegal

Vanuatu

Recreational cannabis is illegal, and as of 2017, enforcement was ramping up. Yet, 2018 marked a move in the opposite direction: both medical cannabis and industrial hemp were legalized.

Recreational: illegal 
Medical: legal

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