Legality of cannabis by country

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Cultivation, possession and transfer of the plant for recreational use is prohibited in most places. However it is the most widely cultivated, trafficked and used illicit drug. Arguments for illegal status: It has negative effects on the body, it can cause dependence, and people who take cannabis are more likely to take other ‘hard drugs’ such as opiates and hallucinogens. Counter arguments: There is no proven link between it and the intake of other ‘hard drugs’, cannabis is no more damaging than other legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco, if it becomes open to market there will be less gangs and dealing, and it has medical purposes such as therapeutic properties, like relief from nausea and vomiting in advanced stages of AIDS and cancer. It also has positive effects in the treatment of glaucoma, asthma and convulsive disorders.[1]

This article regards the legality of cannabis by country.

CountryPossessionSaleTransportCultivationNotes
 AlbaniaIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal[2]
 ArgentinaDecriminalizedIllegalIllegalIllegalLegal for personal use in small amounts and for consumption in private locations. Public consumption is generally accepted among young adults. Consumption for medical purposes is accepted but not legislated (only in private locations). Cultivating, selling and transporting large amounts is illegal and punishable by present laws.[3]
 AustraliaIllegal
(Decriminalized in some states)
Decriminalized for personal use in small amounts in the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It is a criminal offence in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. Enforcement varies from state to state,[4] though a criminal conviction for possession of a small amount is unlikely and diversion programs in these states aim to divert offenders into education, assessment and treatment programs.[5] With the rapid expansion in hydroponically grown cannabis cultivation, the Australian Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act (1985) was amended in 2006, reducing the amount of cannabis grown indoors under hydroponic conditions that qualifies as a 'commercial quantity' or as a 'large quantity'[5]
 AustriaIllegalPossession (which includes the act of smoking) is punishable by prison time of up to 1 year (option of alternative therapy and subsequent waiving of sentence) If it was possessed for personal use the penalty is only up to half a year[6]
 BelgiumIllegal
(Decriminalized)
IllegalIllegalIllegal (Decriminalized only for one female plant)For adults in Belgium, consumption in one's home and possession of quantities of up to 5 grams or one female plant is not legal but tolerated.[7]
 BoliviaIllegalPossession is illegal.[8]
 BrazilIllegal
(Depenalized for personal consumption)
IllegalIllegalIllegal
(Depenalized for personal consumption)
The possession of any drug in Brazil, for personal consumption, entails a warning, community service and education on the effects of drug use. The same applies for the planting and/or preparation of small amounts of any drug.

Selling and transportation of any drugs, as well as the possession or cultivation of larger amounts is characterized as drug trafficking, a criminal act punished with 5 to 15 years in prison and a significant fine.[9]

 BelarusIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal
 BulgariaIllegalCannabis is class A (High-risk) drug, together with Heroin, Cocaine, Amphetamines and MDMA (ecstasy). Until 2004 a loosely defined "personal dose" existed. Since 2006, after the last amendment of the Penal Code, the penalty for possession is 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine between 1,000 and 5,000 euros. For possession with an aim of distribution (drug-dealing) the sentence can range from 2 to 8 years for small amounts, through 3 to 12 years for large amounts, up to 5 to 15 years when executed by an organized criminal group. In these cases the maximum fine to be determined together with the prison time is 50,000 euros. Growing is punishable by 2 to 5 years and a fine up to 5,000 euros. The organizer of a growers group can receive from 10 to 20 years and has to pay a fine up to 100,000 euros and a participant in such a group – 3 to 10 years in prison and a fine of 2,500 to 5,000 euros. In minor cases of growing cannabis (for example a few plants grown by a single person and not meant for distribution) the sentence is up to 1 year and a fine between 250 and 500 euros, but the prison term could be replaced by probation. Consumption is not prohibited, as only possession, trafficking or dealing is a crime but handling of a joint while smoking can be interpreted as possession.[10] Bulgarian Penal Code (translation requested)
 CambodiaDe facto legalWhile technically illegal, the use of cannabis is widespread among the Khmer people and foreigners visiting the country. Marijuana can easily be purchased and smoked in public areas without the threat of arrest. Many "Happy" restaurants located in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville publicly offer food cooked with marijuana, or as a side garnish.[11][12][13]
 CanadaIllegal
(Legal for medical and industrial use with a government issued licence)
IllegalIllegalIllegal (1 or more plants) unless in possession of a government issued licence to grow for medical purposes
see Legislation: "Controlled Drugs and Substances Act" [14]
 ChileIllegalCultivation of Cannabis plants other than for personal use is considered illegal without a permit from the Agriculture Ministry. Though consumption and possession in small quantities alone on a private property is legal, consumption by a group of individuals is illegal. Consumption for medical purposes is legal but not regulated.[15]
 ChinaIllegalCannabis is cultivated for its seeds and for fiber, and has a long medicinal history.[16]
 ColombiaIllegalSince 1994, cannabis has been decriminalized for possession of small amounts up to 1 gram for personal consumption, however sale and cultivation remains illegal.[17]
 ComorosIllegalCannabis was legal during the Comorian historical period between January 1975 and May 1978, when president Ali Soilih legalized cannabis consumption among other measures [18][19]
 Costa RicaIllegal
(Decriminalized)[20]
Cannabis is illegal but there is a high tolerance of smoking marijuana throughout the country,[21] a decriminalization system is implemented de facto since police officers do not detain people carrying enough for only personal consumption, yet no amount has been defined as a minimum for possession, usage of Cannabis in Costa Rica is very high.[20]
 CroatiaDecriminalized in small quantitiesIllegalIllegalIllegalFrom 2013 there is distinction in the Croatian penal code between various illegal substances, they are now separated on heavy drugs and light drugs like Marijuana. According to the law, growing or selling cannabis is considered a felony punishable by a mandatory prison sentence (three years minimum) and from 2013 the possession of small amount of marijuana and other light drugs is a felony which leads to a fine of 5000–20000kn ($800–3500) depending on the case in question. In all cases the cannabis must be confiscated.[citation needed]
 CubaIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal[22]
 CyprusIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalClass B substance – life imprisonment is possible for use and maximum 8 years for possession (maximum 2 yrs for first offence for under 25 yr old). In practice, warning may be given to a minor unconscious first offender.[23]
 Czech RepublicDecriminalized (Legal for small amounts)IllegalDecriminalizedDecriminalizedPossession of up to fifteen grams for personal use or cultivation of up to five plants is merely a misdemeanor from 2010 onwards. The plant still remains illegal. Popular destination for smokers.[24][25] Sale remains illegal.
 DenmarkIllegalAs with all drugs, cannabis-related offences are punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to 2 years [26]
 DominicaIllegalClass B drug to cultivate, sell or possess [27]
 EcuadorDecriminalizedPossession is not illegal, defined by Law 108.[28][29][30]
 EgyptIllegalTechnically illegal. However, use is widespread and part of every day culture. Convictions are very rare for personal use .[31]
 EstoniaIllegal
(Decriminalized)
Up to 10 grams is considered an amount for personal use, and is punished with a fine. Large amounts and distribution are criminal offences, and are punishable with a fine or by up to 5 years in prison.[32]
 EthiopiaIllegalDespite being the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari movement, possession of cannabis can result in up to 6 months imprisonment.[33]
 FinlandIllegal (Decriminalized for medical use)Extremely limited group of medicinal users (12 people as of 31.01.2010) are permitted to purchase it from one special pharmacy in the city of Turku.[34]
 FranceIllegalCultivating, selling, owning or consuming cannabis is prohibited.[35]
 GermanyIllegalIt is popularly believed, that the possession of small amounts hash or marihuana was ruled legal by the German Federal Constitutional Court in 1994, which is not true. It was only ruled, that new scientific evidence relating to the danger of cannabis has to be observed. At the time of the judgment there was, according to the court, no sufficient scientific evidence proving that cannabis is harmless.[36] The possession is illegal. The possession of small amounts (5–30 g) is prosecuted, but charges can be dropped. The definition of this small amount varies depending on the federal state.[citation needed]
 GreeceIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalPossession or use of even small amounts is illegal in Greece. Individuals are arrested, although rarely convicted by court. Possession of large quantities may lead to several years in prison.[37]

The Government was said to be preparing a bill that would decriminalize the use of drugs in August 2011, but finally the legislation was not changed at all.[38]

 Hong KongIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalThe possession, sale, transportation, cultivation of cannabis is illegal under the Dangerous Drug Ordinance[39] (Chapter 134 of the Law of Hong Kong).
 HungaryIllegalThere is no distinction in Hungarian law between illicit drugs according to dangers. Heroin use has the same consequences as cannabis use. Hungarian law prohibits the distribution, and any use (including medical use). However the Penal code distinguishes the punishment between sale and personal use. 283. § (1) paragraph (a) states that "One cannot be punished for drug misuse; if a small, personal amount is produced, acquired, or in possession..." and continues to state that "... provided that before final verdict is determined a verification is provided that continuous 6 month therapy has taken place" The law determines that a "personal quantity" is defined as 1 gram of active substance (i.e. THC), therefore this equates to 12-100 grams of marijuana if calculated that marijuana contains 1-8% THC per unit mass. Possession of larger amounts can lead to a 5-10 year prison sentence.[40]
 IcelandIllegalConsumption is illegal even in small amounts. Possession, sale, transportation and cultivation could result in jail time. Possession is not strictly enforced. Heavy fines are given.[41]
 IndonesiaIllegalPersonal use in small amounts: Maximum sentence of four years in prison (additional fines may apply) if caught by the police in possession, intoxication or by positive urine test. However, if the user voluntarily reports himself/herself to the police, or is reported by his/her family, the sentence shall be no more than six months in prison or a fine of not more than Rp 2.000.000 (two million Indonesian Rupiah/US$200–250).[42]
 IndiaIllegal/Legal (Regulated by Government)Illegal/Legal (sale of bhang is legal in Government authorised shops)IllegalIllegal (Legal with government permission/licence)Used during observance of certain Hindu rituals. Government-owned shops in holy cities like Varanasi sell cannabis in the form of bhang. Despite the high prevalent usage, the law makes it illegal to possess any form of the psychoactive. However, this law is rarely enforced and treated as a low priority across India. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild in many parts of northern and southern India in many states such as West Bengal, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamilnadu.[43] Many states such as West Bengal, Tripura, and the North East have their own laws allowing cannabis, locally known as ganja.
 IranSee 'Notes'Regulated: Legal, Unregulated: IllegalRegulated: Legal, Unregulated: IllegalLegalGrowing cannabis is legal if planted for food purposes as the seeds are eaten by the Iranian people, and companies often draw oil from the seeds which is sold legally. A person is allowed to carry up to 15g of cannabis legally; for every gram above they will be charged 10000 Rials.[44][unreliable source?]
 IrelandIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal[45]
 IsraelIllegal (Decriminalized for medical use)Very small scale of legal usage of medicinal cannabis. However, personal use is relatively decriminalized with little to no penalties for convicted first time violators.[46]
 ItalyIllegal[citation needed]
 JamaicaIllegalCultivation, retail and consumption is illegal. However this is often overlooked and cannabis is sold openly.[47]
 JapanIllegalPossession is punishable by up to five years in prison. Importing or selling cannabis is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and up to 30 million yen.[48]
 JordanIllegalPossession is illegal and may be punishable by prison sentence.[49]
 LatviaIllegal[citation needed]
 LebanonIllegalPossession is illegal. However, large amounts are grown within the country and personal use, as long as not in public is not a major issue.[50]
 LithuaniaIllegal[51]
 LuxembourgIllegalPossession, transportation and consumption are illegal. Prosecution depends on the amount of cannabis one possesses. Since 2001, prison penalty has been substituted by a monetary fine ranging from 250 to 2500 Euros.[52]
 MacedoniaIllegalIf one possesses a larger amount, a jail sentence of anywhere from three months to five years could possibly be given.[53]
 MalaysiaIllegalMalaysian legislation provides for a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers. Individuals arrested in possession of 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin or 200 grams (seven ounces) of marijuana are presumed by law to be trafficking in drugs.[54]
 MaltaIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalChapter 101 of Maltese law (Dangerous Drugs Ordinance) does not specify amounts considered to indicated differences between possession and trafficking (persons with as little as three grammes of cannabis have been charged with dealing) and treats all illegal drugs the same. Penalties for trafficking any illegal drug range between four years and a life sentence and a fine between 2,329.37 Euro and 116,468.67 Euro. Penalties for possession are between 12 months to ten years imprisonment and 465.87 Euro and 23,293.73 Euro in fines.[55] Although prosecution is unlikely, the sale and consumption of cannabis is wildly found in Malta.[citation needed]
 MexicoDecriminalized On August 21, 2009 Mexico decriminalized "personal use" possession of up to five grams of Cannabis.[56] Growing and selling Cannabis is illegal. Due to the near total failure of the law enforcement system one can simply "buy" the police in most areas and do as they please.[57]
 MontenegroIllegal[58]
 NepalIllegal (But not regulated)Marijuana and its derivatives, such as Hashish, are widely available throughout Nepal. Nepal is thought to be the "birthplace" of the cannabis plant according to the Hindu myth of Ballzee.[citation needed]
 NetherlandsDecriminalizedDecriminalizedIllegal (but for coffee shops not really enforced)Illegal (exceptions for personal use) Cannabis products are only sold openly in certain local "coffeeshops", other types of sales and possession are not permitted, although the general legal approach toward cannabis was before de facto decriminalization.[59][60][61]
 New ZealandIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal

Cultivation, possession or sale of cannabis is illegal.[62] The fruit, seeds, and any other part of the plant are scheduled as Class C substances.[63] Hashish, hash oil, THC, and any other preparations containing THC made by processing the plant are scheduled as Class B substances.[64] In July 2009, a bill promoted by Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei amending the law to permit the use of medicinal cannabis was defeated 84-34 at its first reading, with all members of the ruling National Party voting against it.[65][66]

 NorwayIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalUp to 15 grams is considered an amount for personal use, and is punished with a fine of 1500-5000 kroner in the case of first-time offenders; possessing more is considered dealing and punished more harshly. Repeat offenders or dealers face prison charges.[67] It's the same punishment with between 6 months and 2 years for personal use, and between 6 months and 21 years for selling in prison for all narcotics.
 PakistanLegal/IllegalLaws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist, but are very rarely enforced. As with hash, the occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom, despite its association with lower-income groups. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild.[68]
 ParaguayIllegal[8]
 PeruLegal (under certain conditions)Possession of up to eight grams (0.28 oz) of marijuana is legal as long as one is not in possession of another drug.[69]
 PhilippinesIllegalComprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act Of 2002, makes provision for restricted medical use.[70]
 PolandIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalOn 26 May 2011, Poland introduced legislation to terminate the prosecution for possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use. The law introduces the possibility when a person has negligible amounts of drugs for personal use and is not a dealer. But this is only theory, in practice it's still illegal. The legislation raised the maximum possible penalty for placing a large number of drugs from 10 to 12 years in prison. However, for possession of large quantities of drugs would result up to 10 years in prison (previously up to 8 years).[71]
 Portugal
Decriminalized
Although an administrative offense, there are no criminal charges if the amount possessed is no more than an estimated ten days' supply of the substance (this applies to all drugs). In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. See Drug policy of Portugal[72]
 Puerto RicoIllegalSee United States
 RomaniaIllegalRomania was (before 1990) a leader in hemp fiber, second only to China. However, possession of small quantities of drug preparations is punishable by a small fine of about $150–200 USD. Possession of large amounts may result in 3–6 years of jail time, and sale may result in more than 6 years jail time.[73] Decriminalization proposed.[74]
 RussiaIllegalPossession of up to 6 grams (dry weight) of cannabis or 2 grams of hashish is punishable by fine. Possession of more than this amount is punishable by prison term.[75]
 Saudi ArabiaIllegalUse and possession for personal use of any kind of recreational drugs is punishable by imprisonment if caught. Imprisonment for personal use could go up to six months jail time or more. Dealing and smuggling of high amounts of drugs usually result in harsher prison time or even execution, although recently executions are rare. Foreigners who use drugs might be deported.[76]
 SerbiaIllegal[77]
 SingaporeIllegalCannabis is a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, making it illegal to cultivate, sell or possess.[78]
 SlovakiaIllegalPossession or use of small amounts of Cannabis is punishable by up to three years in prison.[79][80] In April 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Fico, the incoming Slovak prime minister, might push for partial legalisation of Cannabis possession, and has argued for the legalisation of possession of up to three doses of Cannabis for personal use.[80]
 South AfricaIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal[81]
 SpainIllegal
(Decriminalized)
LegalBuying and selling cannabis is a criminal offence punishable by law. Possession and consumption at a public place constitutes a misdemeanour and is penalized with a fine and confiscation. Growing the plant on private property for personal use, and consumption by adults in a private space is a constitutional right and hence not illegal.[citation needed]
 Sri LankaIllegalCannabis is illegal in Sri Lanka though it is commonly used in Ayurvedic traditional medicines.[82]
 SwedenIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal It is illegal to sell, transfer, purchase, use or possess any quantity of cannabis. Fines are the most common sanction in matters regarding personal use.[83][84]
 SwitzerlandDecriminalizedIllegalDepends on CircumstancesLegal in some Cantons

Cannabis is illegal to possess, consume or distribute. However, usually only the minimum penalty is imposed for possession and personal use, even for larger amounts. The federal council has committed to implement changes as to decriminalization of personal use and possession already in 2001, and the parliament is currently tasked to tender concrete approaches. As nothing is coming forth on a parliamentary basis, a referendum was launched in 2008, however abolished by the voters.[85][86]

As of January 1, 2012, the cantons Vaud, Neuchatel, Geneva and Fribourg have allowed the growing and cultivation of up to 4 cannabis plants per person, in an attempt to curb illegal street trafficking.[87]

 SyriaIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegalUnder the policies of the government of Bashar al-Assad, many cannabis offences, from simple use to trafficking, reportedly often carried a sentence of life imprisonment. As the country has become destabilised as a result of civil war, people living in areas controlled by Kurdish separatists have begun growing cannabis as a way of making money to fight poverty.[88]
 Republic of China (Taiwan)IllegalCannabis is a schedule 2 narcotic in the ROC, and possession can result in up to three years imprisonment.[89]
 TurkeyIllegal
(Decriminalized)
IllegalIllegalIllegalConsumption of drugs is not illegal per se,[citation needed] but possessing, purchasing or receiving any illegal drug, including Cannabis, is punishable by 1–2 years in prison; there is also the option of treatment and/or probation for up to three years. If users refuse treatment or do not comply with probation requirements, the courts can decide on sentencing. [90] Sale and supply is punishable by a prison term of 5–10 years, and production or trafficking by a minimum term of 10 years.[90]
 United Arab EmiratesIllegalEven the smallest amounts of the drug can lead to a mandatory four year prison sentence.[91]
 United KingdomIllegalIllegalIllegalIllegal

Cannabis is a Class B drug (moderate risk) in the UK. Police enforcement actions vary from county to county but possession of less than 3 grams is unlikely to result in any more than a mere confiscation and a written warning for the first two cannabis possession offences. Medical cannabis is limited to synthetic cannabinoids like Nabilone or the mouth spray Sativex that contains THC and CBD. Cannabis Buds/Flowers or Bedrocan remains illegal for doctors to prescribe in the UK even though patients on Bedrocan from other EU countries can bring their Bedrocan to the UK and legally smoke it. Cultivation of more than 9 plants is usually always classed as cultivation with intent to supply.

 United StatesLegal (in the states of Colorado and Washington)/Illegal (may be used for medicinal purposes in 17 states and the District of Columbia, decriminalized in 14 states, including the City of Detroit,[92] and 12 states currently have pending legislation for medical legalization.)[93][94][95]Legal/Illegal

Laws vary by state, though state law is superseded by federal law which classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance, the same classification as heroin. The United States Supreme Court has ruled in Gonzales v. Raich that the federal government has a right to regulate and criminalize cannabis, even for medical purposes. In 2009 the Attorney General directed federal prosecutors to back away from medical marijuana patients in those states with local laws legalizing medical use.[96]

 UkraineIllegal"Cannabis is a schedule 2 narcotic in Ukraine, and possession can result in up to 3 years imprisonment."[97]
 UruguayLegal/Illegal"Possession for personal use not penalized; law does not specify quantity for "personal amount."[8]
 VenezuelaIllegalAs of September 15, 2010 possession of up to 20 grams of Marijuana or 5 grams of genetically modified Marijuana, if proven not to be for medical or personal consumption, is punishable by 1 to 2 years in prison at judge's discretion. If deemed to be for personal consumption, the user is subject to security measures involving rehabilitation and detoxification procedures. Articulos 131 y 153 de la Ley Organica de Drogas.[98]
 VietnamIllegal[99]

See also

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