The legality of cannabis has had its strong and weak moments through history and for the consumer it may be a bit difficult or confusing to keep up with the constant changes. Although the plant has been used for centuries with the purpose of treating a range of health conditions as well as for its recreational benefits, cannabis is considered an illegal drug in the majority of the world.
We have looked in depth into the potential of the herb in the medical sphere and have exposed the true power of cannabis when taken with caution. However, if you are interested in trying cannabis or a cannabis-related treatment for a certain condition, it is worth doing some research regarding the legality of the plant in your area to avoid the risk of violating the law or getting in trouble.
In this article, we will share with you a list of countries, where cannabis is legal either for medical or recreational use.
What’s the difference between medical and recreational cannabis?
Before we start, it may be useful to make a distinction between medical and recreational cannabis in the first place.
The plant contains high levels of cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, which vary in characteristics. Altogether, cannabis has more than 113 cannabinoids, each playing its own and unique role in the human body once consumed. Medical marijuana is prepared and prescribed to patients suffering from conditions such as nausea, vomiting, diabetes, sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and more. When used for medical purposes, cannabis’ CBD cannabinoid plays a dominant role. It is a cannabinoid which is non-psychoactive but contains a vast amount of medical benefits.
Together with other cannabinoids found in the plant, CBD communicates with the body’s endocannabinoid system and its CB1 and CB2 receptors to stimulate certain reactions or functions. These functions include sleep, mood regulation, hormone release, appetite, and more. They are essential to the body’s wellbeing and health maintenance and can, therefore, provide support for the treatment of different illnesses. The cannabinoid CBD prevails in the medical field and products such as CBD oil, CBD tinctures, CBD edibles, and more are often suggested to patients.
On the other hand, there’s recreational marijuana, which has a slightly different end goal when compared to medical cannabis. Recreational marijuana is used by consumers who are in search of a mind-altering experience. The cannabis used for recreational purposes contains high doses of THC or the psychoactive compound in the plant, which is responsible for creating euphoria, stimulating creativity, or other pleasant sensations. THC can also help the mind relax and can have some therapeutic effects on the body.
Why is cannabis illegal in some parts of the world?
However, THC can also be the reason for a number of negative effects, such as anxiety or paranoia, laziness, or a strong need for eating unhealthy foods while high (the popular munchies crave). For this reason, THC is considered a dangerous compound found in cannabis and the recreational use of marijuana is mostly prohibited in different parts of the world. THC is actually the main reason why the plant became illegal in the first place.
Although there are different types of cannabis, including marijuana and hemp, which provide different effects to the body, the association of the plant with THC brings up dilemmas and controversial opinions regarding its safety. Especially when it comes to children, elderly, or individuals with mental disorders, the consumption of the plant is observed from a different perspective. THC can cause mind-altering effects, which can seriously influence the mind in unpredicted ways and can cause a temporary or permanent change in behavior.
To exploit the potential of the herb but limit the risk of THC-related issues, countries such as the USA have legalized cannabis but put a restriction on THC levels in cannabis products. For instance, you can buy and consume CBD oil but its THC levels must not exceed 0.3%.
Countries where cannabis is legal
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to look at some of the countries in the world where cannabis has been legalized.
The USA has turned a liberal approach towards marijuana consumption but different states will have their own independent laws regarding the matter. It is essential to check the cannabis regulations in your state before trying a cannabis-related treatment or consuming marijuana for recreational purposes.
Canada made a big boom towards the end of 2018 with its announcement regarding marijuana consumption. On October 17, 2018, the country officially legalized the plant for recreational use and cultivators can now obtain authorization from the federal government and can distribute the product with the permission from their province.
However, there may be some specifications regarding the promotion of the product and its marketing.
There have been efforts to legalize marijuana in Mexico mainly due to drug violence concerns. Currently, the consumption or possession of recreational marijuana in quantities smaller than 5 grams is decriminalized and will not result in jail time. The plant remains illegal as is the growth or sale of the herb.
Although it is not advisable to beat the drums if you consume or possess marijuana in the country, you should have no problem carrying small doses of the herb.
Belgium is another country where cannabis has been legalized but is still frowned upon and has certain limits. One of the restrictions is age. If you are under 18 it is absolutely forbidden to consume or possess marijuana. If you are 18 or older, you may enjoy the benefits of recreational marijuana but should not carry around more than 3 grams. In addition, it may not be a good idea to smoke in public while traveling to Belgium.
Portugal has shown its liberal mentality towards drugs since 2001 when the country decriminalized every drug you could possibly think of. You will certainly not go to jail for smoking or possessing marijuana but may get a fine if you are carrying too much. And too much in this case is more than 25 grams.
If you’re looking for cool coffee shops and the chance to explore different marijuana strains without getting in trouble, the Netherlands should be your next travel destination. Since 2017, the cultivation of the herb is also allowed and supported by the government. Cultivation in the country des imply certain restrictions and if this is a business you are looking to develop it is essential to check the full details regarding the legality of the process.
Italy may not fully support the growth or distribution of cannabis but smoking is not a serious problem. However, carrying marijuana is still considered a misdemeanor and you should be careful when visiting Italy.
Since 2017, Spain has opened up towards recreational marijuana. The country provides access to smoking clubs, which are not officially legal in Catalonia. Smoking marijuana is also allowed outside smoking clubs and will not result in trouble.
Switzerland is also considering officially opening smoking clubs for consumers to enjoy the vibes of the herb. Marijuana has been decriminalized and possession of limited amounts is permitted. The country even allows cultivators to grow up to four hemp plants. Not enough to run a business but it is surely enough for homemade products and consumption.
The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic has decriminalized the possession of marijuana under 15 grams. The country fully supports the medical use of the plant and openly suggests marijuana-related treatments to patients. The drawback is that cannabis in the country is relatively expensive as the country needs to import cannabis products.
Estonia is a country, which has shown its affection for cannabis by placing the marijuana leaf on the official emblem of a town called Kanepi. Anything under 7.5 grams for personal use will probably get you a fine but certainly no jail time. It is illegal to grow or distribute cannabis in the country.
Russia is slowly opening up towards marijuana and has now decriminalized the herb in quantities under 6 grams. It is interesting that Russia permitted World Cup fans to enter the country with their medical marijuana from abroad.
It will be a lie to say that cannabis has been legalized in Ukraine but the country has decriminalized the possession of the plant under 5 grams.
Australia may not support recreational marijuana but the country is certainly making progress in terms of medical cannabis. Medical marijuana has been legal in Australia since 2017 and a large amount of research is being conducted.
Jamaica is extremely liberal when it comes to marijuana and there is literally no limit on the amount you can carry. The country decriminalized the herb in 2015 and since then has freely and openly enjoyed what cannabis has to offer from a recreational perspective.
Similarly to other countries in this list, smoking marijuana is officially illegal but there are no legal penalties which will apply if you do smoke in Costa Rica. In fact, it is popular to smoke weed in Costa Rica, especially on the beautiful beaches.
We hope that this list of countries where cannabis is legal will help you prepare for your next trip. Marijuana laws may change in a short period of time so make sure to double check the legality of the herb before packing for your travels.