Legalized cannabis: a rarity in the world
The next German government is considering legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, which would make Germany the third country to do so after Uruguay and Canada.
While many countries have decriminalized drug use and possession, dropping prison sentences for consumers, only a handful have gone so far as to make it fully legal, including for medical purposes.
Here is an overview:
– Latin America –
Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize the production, distribution and consumption of marijuana in 2013.
Its citizens and residents can buy up to 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of weed per month from drugstores, grow it themselves at home, or join cannabis clubs where members tend the plants together.
The government has authorized two private companies to produce and distribute marijuana.
Several other Latin American countries have legalized cannabis for medical use: Chile in 2015, Colombia in 2016 and Argentina, Mexico and Peru in 2017.
– North America –
In 2018, Canada became the second country in the world – and the first major economy in the G7 – to allow recreational use of cannabis.
The law limits personal possession to 30 grams and four plants per household.
In the United States, federal law prohibits the cultivation, sale, and use of marijuana.
However, 18 states and the nation’s capital Washington DC have legalized recreational marijuana. California is the world’s largest legal market.
Thirty-six states and the capital, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have legalized marijuana for medical purposes.
– Europe –
The Netherlands in general, and Amsterdam in particular, have tolerated the sale and use of marijuana in their iconic cafes since 1976.
That year, the Dutch decriminalized the sale of small amounts of cannabis – less than five grams – and allowed individuals to legally grow five plants each for their own use.
A controversial 2012 law banned the sale of marijuana to non-residents and tourists in three southern provinces.
The capital The Hague banned cannabis from the city center in April 2018.
But in July 2018, the Dutch government gave the green light to extensive experience to enable up to 10 municipalities across the country to grow cannabis.
In Spain, laws allow the private production and consumption of cannabis by adults, although its sale is still illegal.
The Czech Republic decriminalized cannabis for personal use in 2010, but you can still be fined for possession of small amounts, with criminal penalties beyond.
A similar system works in Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs in 2001, although they still remain banned.
Users have to pay fines or agree to drug treatment.
In July, the Georgia Supreme Court removed fines for cannabis for personal consumption.
Several other European countries have legalized cannabis for certain medical purposes, including Austria, Great Britain, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Poland , Romania and Slovenia.
– Somewhere else –
In 2018, South Africa’s highest court ruled that private and personal consumption of cannabis by adults was legal.
Thailand is also considering legalizing the cultivation of medical cannabis, which would make it the first country in Asia to enter a market dominated by Canada, Australia and Israel.
In Lebanon, where illegal marijuana plantations are rife, parliament legalized the cultivation of medical marijuana last year.