Did you know some 200 million people around the world use weed on the reg?
Although 2.5% of the world’s population enjoys getting high and more countries are embracing medical and recreational cannabis use, you can’t exactly use pot wherever you please around the planet.
Here we’ll look at countries where you’re free to consume cannabis so you know where you can use weed without legal trouble…and what countries to steer clear of completely when it comes to cannabis possession.
Key Takeaways: Cannabis Laws Around the World
- Uruguay and Canada are the first countries to have fully legalized recreational marijuana.
- There are still countries where cannabis use is heavily restricted (Laos even goes as far as sentencing people to death in some cases).
- Approximately 30 countries have passed some kind of medical cannabis legislation, but recreational laws remain more strict.
- There’s a huge trend toward partial legalization of weed in most parts of the world.
Top 20 Countries Where Weed Is Legal In 2023
With the passing of the Cannabis Act in 2018, weed in Canada became legal for medicinal and recreational use after almost a century of prohibition.
Canada first allowed the medicinal use of marijuana when the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations went into effect in 2001.
The recreational use of weed in Canada — meaning growing it in your home, carrying it, and selling it — wasn’t fully embraced in the Great White North until 2018. Since then, however, personal possession, the ability to purchase cannabis legally, and cultivation have been legal.
While medical marijuana laws in Thailand took effect in 2018, weed is completely legal in Thailand as of June 2022.
While some regulations are still in place, cannabis is widely used and available. There is no restriction on personal possession limits, how many plants you can cultivate or how much weed you can buy.
There are dispensaries literally everywhere, but weed can be expensive. Like up to $25 per gram for some dank exotic strains.
In 2022, the Thai Health Minister even announced the government is distributing one million weed plants to local households. Apparently there’s never been a better time to move to Thailand!
In 2020, a presidential decree expanded previous cannabis laws in Argentina to allow for the cultivation and personal use of cannabis for therapeutic, medicinal, or palliative purposes.
Recreational use of marijuana remains prohibited.
Although Argentina’s cannabis laws aren’t as lax as they could be, medicinal cannabis use is widely accepted in the country, particularly amongst the nation’s youth.
Medical and scientific use of weed in Mexico has been legal since 2016.
Personal use of pot was decriminalized in 2021, but you’ll need a permit from the COFEPRIS, a federal health secretariat.Once permitted, residents can carry up to 28 grams of dried weed and grow as many as six plants for personal use.
Belize decriminalized the possession and personal consumption of up to 10 grams of dried weed in 2017. However, buying and selling weed can still get you in trouble.
According to the United Nations, 8.5% of Belize’s population regularly uses weed. This ranks them higher than the Netherlands and Denmark.
6. Costa Rica
In March 2022, a presidential decree legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. However, its consumption and recreational use fall in a legal gray area.
Technically speaking, federal law in Costa Rica bans large-scale production and selling of marijuana. It also penalizes carrying “more than a small dose” of it.
However, it never specifies what a small dose is, making it an ambiguous law.
Even if it’s technically illegal, cannabis laws in Jamaica don’t really affect users in practice.
The use of weed is widespread in the country and is an integral part of Rastafari and reggae culture. Possession of up to 57 grams is considered a petty offense, but it doesn’t carry any criminal implications.
In Columbia, medicinal marijuana use is permitted, and cultivation of up to 20 plants for recreational use was decriminalized in 2015.
Possession of small amounts of cannabis (up to 20 grams) can legally be carried in Columbia.
In light of the failure of the war on drugs, this is a massive step in the country’s new strategy against drug trafficking and international distribution.
Recreational weed use in Ecuador remains illegal, although possession of up to 10 grams has been decriminalized. That said, authorities can charge you with a crime even if you’re caught with one gram.
However, medical marijuana has been legal since 2019.
Cannabis laws in Ecuador aren’t particularly weed-friendly, but medicinal use isn’t exactly frowned upon. Recreational use is still somewhat taboo, but laws are slowly changing.
In Peru, the self-cultivation, importation, transport, and selling of marijuana have been legal for medicinal purposes since 2021. You can also carry up to 8 grams for personal use without being penalized.
The Peruvian government also issues four different permits for cannabis importation, cultivation, and production, making cannabis laws in the country pretty well-developed.
Uruguay is where it’s at when it comes to legal weed. In 2013 it became the first country in the world to legalize cannabis fully.
In Uruguay, weed is widely available and accessible throughout the country. However, the government regulates every inch of the growing, marketing, and buying processes.
Citizens over 18 can apply to buy cannabis in pharmacies throughout the country. Registered residents can cultivate up to 6 plants with a maximum yield of 480 grams per year.
Additionally, the government allows cannabis clubs where 45 people can join and grow up to 99 plants.
These measures have incredibly affected the country’s battle against narcotraffic–in 2018 11% of people purchased weed illegally in Uruguay, compared to 58% of people in 2014.
In general, cannabis use in Uruguay is entirely normal. Most people in the country report that they’ve either tried weed within the last year or consume cannabis regularly.
That said, weed is often sold openly in markets, and police tend not to harass restaurants or markets that sell marijuana.
Among the country’s population, weed is seen as something for older people. Surprisingly the Cambodian youth aren’t as keen on weed as kids in many other countries.
Amsterdam has been notoriously famous for its “coffee shops” for years, a huge destination spot for pot smokers from around the world for decades. While you can’t legally purchase more than 5 grams in a single transaction, most coffee shops bypass restrictions with ease.
Like many other countries, the Netherlands has decriminalized the personal use of small amounts of marijuana, and you can carry less than five grams or cultivate less than five plants without prosecution.
Cannabis in Germany is legal within tightly regulated medical situations. It’s still illegal for recreational use, however. Most people caught carrying or using small amounts aren’t typically prosecuted, though.
In 2016, legislation allowed for the medical use of cannabis in patients with “no other therapeutic alternative.” If prescribed by a doctor, health insurance will cover the expenses.
Yes, you read that well—death sentence.
Smoking weed in public can get you 12 months in jail. However, the police regularly accept bribes, allowing a local weed culture to continue despite its illegality.
Since 2003, growing a maximum of one female plant has been legal. This change has led to massive growth in popularity, making this country one of the top cannabis consumers in the world.
Cannabis is only legal in Italy for medicinal purposes. Since 2013, any doctor can prescribe cannabis-based medications, and any pharmacy can provide them if they meet state regulations.
Medical use of cannabis has been legal in Malta since 2018. Recreational use was legalized in 2021, making Malta the first EU country to do so.
While smoking in public is still banned, cannabis social clubs can operate legally. If you’re part of one, you can receive up to 7 grams of weed daily and 50 grams monthly.
Overall, Malta is an example of partial legalization that other EU countries like Germany and Italy are looking at for guidance.
Growing for personal use and personal use itself isn’t criminalized in Spain, but full legalization hasn’t happened yet.
You can carry and use up to 100 grams of weed in Spain, and cannabis clubs thrive due to many legal loopholes. Buying or consuming weed in public places can still land you a fine, though, as it’s considered a minor misdemeanor.
And since 2001, possession of up to a 10-day supply is not punishable if it’s a first-time offense. You’ll probably be fined if you’re caught many times, though.
Wrapping Up: Weed-Friendly Countries In 2023
While the views on weed vary from country to country, there is a general trend toward partial legalization.
It’s no longer the norm to face severe charges for simple possession of weed, save for some notable exceptions like Laos. Some countries in the EU might still fine you but will generally look the other way.
The best weed-friendly countries, like Uruguay and Canada, have fully legalized weed with positive results, and other states are following their example.