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Where Cannabis is Legal in Europe

AL AD AT BY BE BA BG HR CY CZ DK EE FI FR DE GR HU IS IE IT XK LV LI LT LU MK MT MD MC ME NL NO PL PT RO RU SM RS SK SI ES SE CH UA GB VA

rsz_path_5921 Medical cannabis
Illegal (including decriminalized)

The majority of European states have legalized medical marijuana in recent years, although access remains inconsistent across the continent. A growing number of European countries have also decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis

Medical background Layer 1
Medical
Decriminalzation
Decriminalization
Albania
  • Medical: Illegal
  • Recreational: Illegal

Albania does not have a medical marijuana program and even small amounts of marijuana for personal use can be penalized by significant jail time. Albania is one of the largest illicit producers of marijuana in Europe, but this has not had an effect on the country’s laws regarding cannabis.

Andorra
  • Medical: Illegal
  • Recreational: Illegal

Cannabis is not legal for recreational or medicinal purposes in Andorra. That said, it does border the Catalonia region of Spain, which has the most liberal cannabis laws in the country, as well as a network of members-only cannabis clubs.

Austria
  • Medical: Illegal (cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals only)
  • Recreational: Decriminalized

Austria’s marijuana laws are complicated but more tolerant than a number of countries on the continent. Reforms went into effect in 2016 that decriminalized possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use. In 2008, cannabis byproducts for medicinal use (CBPMs) were legalized through an amendment to the Narcotic Substances Act. That said, access to medical cannabis is still quite restricted in the country, and while marijuana-derived medications like Dronabinol and Sativex are legal, they are not often prescribed. In addition, in 2019 the country banned the sale of CBD for cosmetics and food products.

Belarus
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal

Belarus has some of the harshest drug laws in the continent and the country makes no distinction whatsoever between cannabis and hemp, nor is any medical usage allowed.

Belgium
  • Medical: legal (only Sativex available)
  • Recreational: illegal

Since 2003, cannabis has had a separate legal definition in Belgium from other controlled substances, and possession of up to 3 grams is punishable by a simple fine. In cases with “aggravating circumstances,” or after repeated offenses, possession can be punishable by three months to one year in prison. Certain localities such as Antwerp have initiated their own regulations. 

A legal gray zone regarding the legality of CBD in the country has seen the opening of a number of clubs and delivery services in certain areas of the country. In February 2019, Belgian lawmakers approved the founding of a state-run office to run cannabis cultivation for medical purposes in the country, and to oversee research and ways to expand access to medical cannabis. 

The country legalized medical marijuana in 2015, but the only product currently approved and available is Sativex.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal

Cannabis is illegal for medical or recreational use in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In recent years lawmakers and patients have called for the legalization of medical marijuana, but so far no progress has been reached. 

Bulgaria
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal

Under Bulgaria’s Narcotic Substances and Precursors Control Act, cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana are illegal, but the cultivation of “cannabis containing less than 0.2 percent by weight of Tetrahydrocannabinol” is legal if the grower has obtained a permit front the minister for agriculture and food for research, educational, or other purposes. 

In May 2019, Bulgaria became the first EU country to allow the legal sale of CBD products

Croatia
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Croatia has a relatively progressive approach to cannabis laws, and since 2013, the possession of cannabis for personal use is considered a misdemeanor under the country’s Drug Abuse Prevention Act (DAPA), and punishable by a fine of between 650-2,600 Euros. In 2015, the country legalized the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and has imported medical marijuana in the absence of a domestic industry.  In 2019, the country approved the cultivation of hemp for medical purposes. Also, in early 2020, a Croatian lawmaker presented a bill to legalize recreational marijuana use in the country.

Cyprus
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

In 2019, Cypriot lawmakers approved a law legalizing the possession, import and export, and cultivation of marijuana for medical use. Recreational marijuana is not legal in Cyprus, but in 2016, a law was passed allowing drug offenders who were not trafficking to apply for a treatment alternative. For cannabis this includes possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis.

Czech Republic
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

In general the legal system in the Czech Republic has a relatively tolerant attitude towards drug use. In 2009, the country updated its penal code to decriminalize cultivation of up to five plants and possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis and 5 grams of cannabis resin, which is subject to a simple fine. The country also approved a medical marijuana program in 2013.

Denmark
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: largely decriminalized 

While cannabis remains illegal in Denmark, possession for personal use typically results in a fine at most. For possession to be considered trafficking, the offender must have around 10kg of cannabis. Denmark legalized medical marijuana in 2018, though access has been limited and the only products available are Sativex and Marinol.

Estonia
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal (largely decriminalized) 

The use of marijuana for medical purposes was approved in Estonia in 2005, but the country’s medical marijuana program has yet to get off the ground. Cannabis remains illegal in the country for recreational purposes, but possession is typically punished by a simple fine.

Finland
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Medical cannabis was legalized in Finland in 2008 but it remains on a patient-by-patient basis and access is still considered quite sparse. Recreational cannabis is still illegal in the country, though possession is often subject to only a fine. There is also a growing movement towards decriminalization, though it has not resulted in changes to the penal code as of yet.

France
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal (partly decriminalized)

France first approved a medical marijuana law in 2013. In 2019, the country began its two-year trial program to gauge the effectiveness of the program and how to implement it. France has long had one of the harshest approaches to recreational marijuana use in western Europe, but in 2018, the country passed new regulations that reduce the penalty for possession to a fine of approximately 200 Euros.

Germany
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: largely decriminalized

Germany first began legally allowing medical marijuana in 1998, when Dronabinol first became available for prescription. The program has expanded significantly since then, and in 2017, the prescription of medical marijuana became legal in the country. Today it is considered the largest medical marijuana market in Europe. 

Recreational cannabis possession, cultivation, and sale remains illegal in Germany, but cases involving possession of small amounts (anything between around 6 to 15 grams depending on the region) are typically not prosecuted.

Greece
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

In 2017, the government of Greece announced a plan to legalize medical cannabis and in 2018, approved permits for the cultivation and processing of hemp. In August, 2019, the country approved more than two dozen medical cannabis cultivation and processing licenses, but the country’s medical marijuana program has yet to go into operation. 

Recreational marijuana is illegal in the country and possession can result in a prison sentence of up to five months, but the offence is not recorded on the offender’s record if they don’t commit another offense within five years. Possession of small amounts of cannabis can also be punished by a simple fine or rehabilitation program.

Hungary
  • Medical: ilegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Neither medical or recreational marijuana are legal in Hungary and the country’s laws don’t differentiate between cannabis and harder drugs. More than half of the country’s drug law offences in 2017 were related to cannabis, and according to Hungarian law, both drug use and possession are punishable by up to two years in prison.

Iceland
  • Medical: ilegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Recreational marijuana is illegal in Iceland though a bill introduced to parliament in 2019 (by a member of parliament from the Pirate Party) would decriminalize buying, receiving, or possessing drugs if they are for personal use. Iceland allows the import of CBD for personal use, and Sativex can be received on prescription in the country. 

Ireland
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Ireland, though possession for the first or second offense is rarely punished with more than a fine. In 2019 the country launched a medical cannabis program and approved two medical CBD products for sale to qualifying patients. In 2016, the parents of a child in Ireland were granted approval by the minister for health to use cannabis oil to treat his epilepsy.

Italy
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Possession of cannabis for personal use in Italy is largely decriminalized, and subject to administrative sanctions such as the suspension of a driver’s license or a fine. In 2019, Italy’s highest court ruled that growing small amounts of marijuana at home for personal use is not a crime. 

A law passed in 2016 allows the sale of hemp products with low-THC, fostering a “cannabis light” industry of shops selling CBD soaps, oils and so on made with hemp.  

Italy has had a legal medical marijuana program since 2013, and is considered the second-largest consumer of licensed medical marijuana in Europe, trailing only Germany.

Kosovo
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Recreational and medical cannabis are both illegal in Kosovo. Those found in possession of drugs — including cannabis — can potentially face imprisonment of one to three years. First time offenders may be punished with just a fine.

Latvia
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Recreational and medical cannabis are both illegal for sale, possession, or cultivation in Latvia. Possession of a gram or less for personal use is decriminalized as an administrative offense punishable by a fine, but subsequent offenses become criminal cases.

Liechtenstein
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

The cultivation, possession, and sale of cannabis are illegal in Liechtenstein for medical or recreational purposes. The country does allow for the medical use of Sativex and Epidiolex.

Lithuania
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Drug use in Lithuania is an administrative offense punishable by a fine, and possession for personal use is a crime punishable by community service or a non-prion incarceration. 

In 2013, the country legalized the growing of industrial hemp, and voted unanimously to legalize medical marijuana in 2018. The program went into effect in May 2019.

Luxembourg
  • Medical: legal 
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Luxembourg has plans to become the first  country in Europe to fully legalize cannabis production and consumption. In 2018, Luxembourg political leaders announced plans to fully legalize cannabis, and according to a 2019 report, residents over the age of 18 are expected to be able to buy cannabis for legal adult use within two years, with state regulation of the production and distribution of cannabis. 

In 2001, the country decriminalized personal cannabis use and possession, which are now punishable by only a fine. In 2018, the country’s parliament voted to legalize medical cannabis, and allow all general practitioners who undergo specific training to prescribe it.

Malta
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Malta, but largely decriminalized and possession is typically just punished with a fine unless the person is a repeat offender, in which case counseling or a jail sentence may be imposed. The country legalized medical marijuana in 2018 and is seen as having aspirations to be a European leader in medical cannabis.

Moldova
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Drug use is not considered a crime in Moldova, rather an administrative offense. Simple possession of cannabis in small amounts for personal use is punishable by a fine or community service. Medical marijuana is illegal and Moldova has no such legal program.

Monaco
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Both medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in Monaco.

Montenegro
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal 

Medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in Montenegro, which is a major transit country for marijuana produced in Albania on its way to Western Europe. In 2014, the country’s Liberal Party put forward a bill to allow the use of medical marijuana, but it was rejected.

The Netherlands
  • Medical: legal 
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Medical cannabis has been legal in the Netherlands since 2003, and the country is a major producer of medical marijuana. Recreational marijuana occupies a legal grey area in the country. While the Netherlands is famous for its cannabis “coffee shops,” marijuana is in fact illegal in the country, but for the most part tolerated, and it is legal for sale in coffee shops. Possession of less than 5 grams is typically not prosecuted, though possession of more than this amount, or cultivation of more than five plants is illegal.

North Macedonia
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal 

North Macedonia legalized medical marijuana in 2016 and cannabis products that contain less than .2% THC can be purchased over the counter in the country. Recreational marijuana remains illegal.

Norway
  • Medical: legal 
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Recreational marijuana is not legal in Norway, but possession of less than 15 grams is usually punished by a fine. Also, in 2017 the country voted to decriminalize drug use. Doctors are legally allowed to approve medical cannabis on a case by case basis. 

Poland
  • Medical: legal 
  • Recreational: illegal 

Possession of cannabis is still illegal in Poland, but possession of small amounts for personal use is typically not prosecuted. The country approved a medical cannabis program in 2017 and the country also allows legal hemp cultivation.

Portugal
  • Medical: legal 
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Portugal decriminalized possession and use of all drugs in 2001. Possession of more than 25 grams of cannabis can still be prosecuted with a severe jail sentence. In 2018, the country legalized medical marijuana.

Romania
  • Medical: legal 
  • Recreational: decriminalized 

Recreational cannabis possession is illegal in Romania, but the country’s laws view drugs that aren’t “high risk” less severely. Punishment for possession can range from a fine to three months to three years, depending on the type of drug. The country legalized medical cannabis with less than .2% THC in 2013, and in 2019, announced that it is looking into legislation to further legalize medical cannabis.

The Russian Federation
  • Medical: illegal 
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in Russia, but as of 2004, possession of less than 6 grams is an administrative offense. 

San Marino
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

San Marino approved a legal medical marijuana program in 2016, and patients can acquire cannabis products like Sativex to treat a number of approved conditions like multiple sclerosis and neuropathic pain. In March the Parliament blocked a plan to legalize recreational cannabis, saying they would wait to follow the lead of Italy. The Parliament had previously in 2019 approved a citizens proposal to regulate recreational use of cannabis.

Serbia
  • Medical: illegal 
  • Recreational: illegal

A few years ago, Serbia appeared to be approving the more liberal approach to medical cannabis that its Balkan neighbors have adopted, but has since backtracked. Recreational marijuana remains illegal, and possession for personal use is punishable by up to 3 years in prison, but punishment may be remitted in minor cases.

Slovakia
  • Medical: illegal 
  • Recreational: illegal

In Slovakia, recreational cannabis is illegal and possession of “three times the usual single dose for personal use” can be punished by up to five years imprisonment. While former Prime Minister Robert Fico had issued support for limited marijuana legalization, such moves have been rejected by politicians in recent years. The only currently approved medical marijuana product is Sativex for multiple sclerosis related spasticity. The country also voted down a push to remove CBD from a banned substances list in 2019.

Slovenia
  • Medical: legal (but highly restricted) 
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Slovenia but as of 2014, personal use and possession is not considered a criminal offense. In 2014, Slovenia’s government approved a new regulation which allows the use of cannabis products for medical purposes but the program has had problems with access and only a limited amount of patients have signed up. 

Spain
  • Medical: illegal (decriminalized)
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Possession of cannabis is illegal in Spain, but is typically only enforced in public. For personal use and cultivation at home, cannabis is decriminalized. The country allows a certain level of autonomy by region, and in Catalonia, the country has “cannabis clubs” which resemble the coffee shops of Amsterdam, with a similar vague level of legality. Medical marijuana operates in a similarly vague sphere, and varies by region. The country doesn’t have a nationwide legal medical marijuana program.

Sweden
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Sweden and medical use is highly restricted. The country approved medical marijuana in 2012, but the program is highly restrictive. In 2017, the country approved two licenses for patients to use a low THC strain of cannabis for chronic pain. Dronabinol and Sativex are available on a strict case by case basis. In Sweden both drug use and possession are illegal.

Switzerland
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Switzerland decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2013, and if caught with less than 10 grams, the penalty is a fine. Cannabis is still illegal however. Since 2011, the country allows the sale of cannabis with less than one percent THC. The country passed an amendment to its drug law in 2011, allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The country is currently weighing avenues to expand the program.

Ukraine
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: decriminalized

Both recreational and medical cannabis are illegal in Ukraine. According to Ukrainian drug code, possession of a small amount for personal use is an administrative offense, typically punishable by a fine. The country does allow the cultivation of up to 10 hemp plants. In April 2019, President Volodymyr Zelensky (then a candidate running for the office) stated that medical marijuana “is normal” and that he supported limited legalization.

The United Kingdom
  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

The United Kingdom legalized medical marijuana in November 2018 but there are problems with access and approval of patients. Drug use is not an offense in the United Kingdom, but possession of class B drugs (including cannabis) can be penalized by up to three months imprisonment and/or a fine. In 2004, cannabis had been reclassified from a Class B to Class C drug, but this was changed in 2009.

Vatican City
  • Medical: illegal
  • Recreational: illegal

Medical and recreational cannabis are illegal in the Vatican City, and Pope Francis has come out strongly against drug legalization.