Exactly Where Is Cannabis Legal Globally?

Cannabis has piqued public interest today more so than ever before. All around the globe, countries are using weed to treat painful medical conditions, manage mood disorders, and even just for recreation.

In terms of possession/ distribution/ cultivation, how it can be ingested, and what medical ailments it can be used for, the legality of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use differs by country. Within the US itself, legislation can vary wildly from state to state. Every person who uses cannabis should be aware of these rules, especially if they are traveling or relocating to another nation.

Most nations have their policies based partly on global agreements like 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.

Global Policies

But enough of the more mundane details, where exactly is cannabis legal worldwide?

Most countries restrict the use of cannabis for recreational reasons; however, several have chosen a decriminalization policy, making simple possession a non-criminal infraction (often as similar to a minor traffic violation). Others, such as several Asian and Middle Eastern countries, have far harsher punishments, possessing even tiny amounts punishable by jail for several years. 

Recreationally Legal Cannabis

Canada, Georgia, Malta, Mexico, South Africa, and Uruguay, 18 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia in the United States and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia, have legalized cannabis for recreational use. 

Except for Washington, D.C., the commercial selling of recreational cannabis is legal in two countries (Canada and Uruguay) and all subnational U.S. counties that have allowed possession. Many countries, including the Netherlands, have embraced a policy of lax policing, even allowing the selling of cannabis in regulated coffeeshops.

In Mexico, recreational marijuana usage in amounts of 5 grams or less is decriminalized, which means no jail time. It’s still technically illegal, especially the growing and selling of marijuana, but there’s been a recent surge in support for legalization.

 Fully Legal, With a Few Caveats

To list every country in the world would be less interesting than telling you about the restrictions in many countries. For example, in the United States, 37 states have allowed cannabis for medical use, but it is still illegal at the federal level.

 The funny thing is that there are no legal sales available even in countries where it’s legal for medical or personal use! 

In 2017, it became permitted to smoke a joint in Spain’s famous smoking clubs. You are free to smoke whatever you want without facing any penalties or legal consequences. You’re alright as long as you use it in the privacy of your own house or on private land.

While it is theoretically illegal to consume marijuana in public in Spain, purchasing from a Spanish cannabis club is an exception. According to a study by the Andalusian regional government, such clubs are legal as long as they only distribute to a select group of legal adults, give only the amount of drugs required for immediate consumption, and do not make a profit. The important factor here: only Spanish citizens are eligible.

Across the ocean, Canada fully legalized both recreational and medical marijuana in October 2018. Depending on the province, the minimum age to purchase cannabis from a licensed dispensary ranges from 18 to 21 years old. Pot, edibles, and similar products must be packaged in more subdued ways, but while the government is rigorous about aesthetics, it’s perfectly fine to send weed over the mail.

Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Belize, Columbia, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, and Uruguay are among the nations where it is currently legal, semi-legal, or illegal.

In countries like India, Laos, and Cambodia, it may be legal to use cannabis. Also, keep in mind that visitors should not expect to be treated differently from natives. If you travel these areas, be sure to research the particular cannabis status of the countries you visit and follow the restrictions.

Legally Embraced

Jamaica stands out as the only country where cannabis use is accepted as part of the culture. Other nations are either legal, semi-legal or ignore the user (so long people are discreet with it). 

Take a Pass On Lighting Up Here

In South Korea, where it can only be used for medical purposes, cannabis is now outlawed. While in the Middle East and Asia, most people still regard cannabis possession as a serious crime, while still others utterly disregard it (can you sense a theme here)

 It is illegal to touch cannabis in various nations, including Singapore, Turkey, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Japan.

If you’re ever planning a trip to Asia or the Middle East, the best idea is to leave your stash at home. Because both plant varieties are still illegal in these areas (medical and recreational), taking a risk to find it could be difficult or possibly dangerous.


Around the globe, smoking cannabis isn’t always legal. Or, there are only select places you are allowed to buy and consume it. Now that you’ve read through our article, you’ll be all set to prepare yourself for a trip anywhere!