Legality of cannabis

Map showing legal status of cannabis in the United States [blue]  Legal [dark-green]  Legal for medical use [light-green]  Legal for medical use, limited THC content [gray]   Prohibited for any use  

Data obtained from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Countries that have legalized medical use of cannabis

The legality of cannabis for medical and recreational use varies by country, in terms of its possession, distribution, and cultivation, and (in regards to medical) how it can be consumed and what medical conditions it can be used for. These policies in most countries are regulated by three United Nations treaties: the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

The use of cannabis for recreational purposes is prohibited in most countries; however, many have adopted a policy of decriminalization to make simple possession a non-criminal offense (often similar to a minor traffic violation). Others have much more severe penalties such as some Asian and Middle Eastern countries where possession of even small amounts is punished by imprisonment for several years. 

Countries that have legalized recreational cannabis are Canada, Georgia, South Africa, and Uruguay, plus 15 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia in the United States, and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia. Legality varies in these countries and subnational jurisdictions when it comes to commercial sales. A policy of limited enforcement has also been adopted in many countries, in particular the Netherlands where the sale of cannabis is tolerated at licensed coffeeshops.

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Lebanon
  • Luxembourg
  • Malawi
  • Malta
  • the Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • San Marino
  • Sri Lanka
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • the United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  •  

 

Others have more restrictive laws that allow only the use of certain cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals, such as Sativex, Marinol, or Epidiolex.

In the United States, 35 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level its use remains prohibited for any purpose