Countries Where Cannabis Is Legal

Cannabis is legal in many US states, but still illegal on a federal level. Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
  • Cannabis is legal in many US states but still illegal at a federal level in the country.
  • Recreational cannabis use is legal in Canada.
  • When drugs are decriminalized, it means they are not fully legal, but you will not go to jail for using or procuring them.

Cannabis sativa is a plant that produces a flower which can be turned into the illicit drug cannabis, also known as marijuana, pot, or weed. Many other slang terms also exist for this drug that can be smoked or eaten, causing a user to feel overly relaxed and content due to the psychoactive ingredient it contains called THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). 

Cannabis is considered an illegal drug for recreational use in a large part of the world where using it, growing it, or selling it can result in time spent in prison. Some countries have taken steps to legalize cannabis in order to reduce criminal activity connected with the drug and to better be able to control who it is made available to. Here is a look at where you can buy cannabis legally for recreational use around the world. 


People living in Canada who are 18 years or older are legally allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in its dried or non-dried form in public. Photo by Sam Doucette on Unsplash

In October 2018, Canada legalized the use of marijuana under the Cannabis Act. People living in Canada who are 18 years or older are legally allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in its dried or non-dried form in public and are permitted to share up to 30 grams of the substance with other adults. People in Canada must buy their cannabis from provincially-licensed retailers and federally-licensed producers and can grow up to four marijuana plants at home from legal seedlings. Selling or giving cannabis to youth, however, is still highly illegal in this country, and this can result in up to 14 years in jail. 


Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis.Photo by Add Weed on Unsplash 

Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, and did so in 2013. Because Uruguay is affected by the US’s finance laws around controlled substances, pharmacies are the only place in the country where people can buy recreational marijuana. There are only 17 pharmacies in the country that do so. Buyers need to register with a regulator and can buy 10 grams of weed per week. 

North Korea

There are rumors that is it legal to grow and use marijuana in North Korea, however, this country is so closed about what really goes on behind its borders that it is difficult to really know if this is true. Would it be wise to use marijuana on a trip to North Korea, should you be granted access? Very likely not. 

Various US States

The use of marijuana as a recreational drug is illegal in the US at a federal level, but many states have moved to legalize it within their borders, creating some friction. At the time of this writing in 2020, marijuana is sold and used legally in Illinois, Washington State, Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, California, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Alaska. Cannabis growers and sellers trying to do legal business in these states can come up against funding and banking problems, however, with the continued illegal status of the drug at a federal level, making for a tricky and ever-evolving situation. 


Cannabis is decriminalized in many countries in Europe. Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

Recreational cannabis has been successfully decriminalized in many countries, even if it has not yet been made entirely legal. This means that governments have stopped treating the use, possession, and sale of the drug, at some level, as a criminal offense that you can go to jail for. In the US, many states have decriminalized marijuana possession. Worldwide, countries including Colombia and Chile, as well as countries in Europe, and Jamaica have decriminalized marijuana on some scale. 

Medical Uses 

Cannabis can make you high, but that is not all the plant is good for. Cannabis also has many medicinal uses that have yet to be fully explored on a scientific level. Some known medicinal uses of the drug include treating seizures, epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and Dravet syndrome, among other ailments. 


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