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  • From recreationally legal states to a federally illegal nation, cannabis laws in the United States are diverse. And by now, we’re pretty well-versed in their complexities. So what about weed laws beyond the states? Is weed legal in other countries?

Here, Elevate Holistics is taking a look at cannabis internationally. To discover what areas of the world support cannabis consumption, we’ll go over countries where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational purposes.

A lot is happening outside the U.S. – is marijuana legal in Switzerland? What about Italy or Canada? Let’s explore!

Is marijuana legal in other countries? Well, that depends.

The laws of countries that legalize weed, whether medical or recreational, are unique to each country. These laws may include: 

      • Purchase and possession limits
      • Qualifying medical conditions
      • How individuals can consume cannabis
      • THC limits

    While each region’s laws are unique, lawmakers have based most cannabis laws around the world on 3 United Nations treaties: 

      In most countries, recreational weed is illegal and simple possession of cannabis is decriminalized – meaning authorities treat it as a minor offense.

      On the one hand, the punishment for possessing any amount of marijuana is severe in some areas, like Asian and Middle Eastern countries. On the other hand, recreational use is legal in certain countries.

      So is weed legal in other countries? Let’s explore countries where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use. 

      Diving into medical marijuana countries, we must address some key factors: What’s new with countries where marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes? What does it take to become a patient? What’s the process like?

      Below are the countries that have legalized weed for medical use – going into detail with a few of them.

      Switzerland

      Is marijuana legal in Switzerland? In 2022, Switzerland’s Federal Council lifted the ban on cannabis for medical purposes by amending the Swiss Narcotics Act. This fully legalized medical marijuana in Switzerland. However, the law currently only allows for products containing less than 1% THC.

      It is illegal to possess marijuana that contains more than 1% THC. Due to this restriction on THC content, users are unlikely to feel the intoxicating effect of THC because, at such low concentrations, it will take a lot of weed to make you feel high.

      Switzerland marijuana laws permit the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, and you can find marijuana in different forms like hemp flowers, scented oils, and ointments.

      Home cultivation is also legal in Switzerland as long as the strain contains less than 1% THC.

      Since August 2022, physicians have been able to prescribe patients medical cannabis. Before this change in legislation, Swiss residents had to obtain permission for medical marijuana from the Switzerland federal government’s Center for Public Health by filing a request.

      On top of newly legal medical use, Swiss authorities began a 10-year pilot trial of legal cannabis sales for recreational use earlier this year. 

      Participants must be residents who already consume cannabis and are 18 years of age or older. Participants are also required to report back to authorities regarding how cannabis is affecting their mental and physical health.

      Italy

      Is marijuana legal in Italy? Cannabis is medically legal in Italy, where the Ministry of Health manages the MMJ program. Patients must try other forms of treatment for their qualifying medical condition before being prescribed medical marijuana, with evidence from a doctor.

      Medical marijuana products must be hemp-derived and contain less than 0.6% THC. In some cases, the Italian healthcare system offers coverage for the cost of medical cannabis products. The Military Chemical Pharmaceutical Plant produces all of Italy’s medical cannabis.

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      Recreational marijuana is illegal, but Italy has decriminalized marijuana, so if you’re caught with less than 1.5 grams of marijuana, you may get off with just a fine.

      In 2021, Italian activists garnered over 600,000 signatures to reform the country’s weed laws, including legalizing cannabis cultivation and reducing punishments for weed offenses, but lawmakers blocked the referendum. That means that cultivating your own medical marijuana in Italy is still illegal.

      Argentina

      Medical marijuana has been legal in Argentina since 2017 but has only become accessible to patients in the past few years. Before these recent reforms, cannabis oil was only available to patients with severe epilepsy.

      In 2020, Argentina authorized people to grow marijuana at home for medicinal use. Patients can register with REPROCANN, Argentina’s national cannabis registry, to legally cultivate, possess, and consume cannabis.

      After being assessed by a medical professional, patients are allowed to grow marijuana for themselves or another registered patient. Patients can also get their medical cannabis through the national health system.

      Argentina’s medical marijuana program doesn’t have a list of qualifying medical conditions. Instead, patients register by noting the therapeutic use they intend to consume cannabis for. These uses include sleep improvement, relief from anxiety, and pain management.

      Recreational marijuana is illegal in Argentina, but the Argentine Supreme Court has decriminalized the possession and use of small amounts of marijuana.

      Australia

      Compared to the rest of the world, Australia has one of the highest cannabis prevalence rates. In 2016, the Australian Government legalized medical marijuana, although cannabis laws vary among Australian territories.

      Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates all of the country’s medicinal cannabis supply.

      To get a weed prescription in Australia, a doctor must complete an application on your behalf showing that you have a medical reason for accessing cannabis.

      Like Argentina, Australia does not have a list of qualifying medical conditions. Instead, doctors consider each patient on a case-by-case basis.

      Belgium

      Medical marijuana is legal in Belgium but under very strict laws. Licensed dispensaries can sell CBD products, but THC products are illegal even for medical use.

      Recreational use is illegal but decriminalized, so anyone over 18 caught with three grams of marijuana will get only a fine.

      Estonia

      Medical marijuana is legal in Estonia, but the country doesn’t have an established medical marijuana program. Patients must get a prescription from the Ministry of Social Affairs before they can use marijuana.

      On the other hand, recreational marijuana is illegal in Estonia, but it has been decriminalized. Possession of up to 7.5 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by a simple fine.

      United Kingdom

      The UK legalized medical marijuana in 2018 but under very strict conditions. Patients can get prescriptions only from specialist hospital doctors and only if they have tried other forms of treatment. 

      Also, the qualifying conditions are very narrow. Patients are likely to get a medical marijuana prescription only if they have rare forms of epilepsy or multiple sclerosis or suffer side effects of chemotherapy, like nausea.

          • Brazil
          • Barbados 
          • Chile
          • Colombia
          • Costa Rica
          • Croatia
          • Cyprus
          • Czech Republic
          • Denmark
          • Ecuador
          • Finland
          • France
          • Germany
          • Greece
          • Ireland
          • Israel
          • Jamaica
          • Lebanon
          • Lithuania
          • Luxembourg
          • Malawi
          • The Netherlands
          • New Zealand
          • North Macedonia
          • Norway
          • Panama
          • Peru
          • Poland
          • Portugal
          • Rwanda
          • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
          • San Marino
          • Sri Lanka
          • Vanuatu
          • Zambia
          • Zimbabwe
          • Parts of the United States

        What about the countries with (adult-use) recreational cannabis? Well, countries that have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use exist, Fewer– but they’re very few.

        Keep in mind that countries that legalize weed for recreational use have also legalized medical marijuana.

        Below are the countries that have legalized weed for recreational use:

        Canada

        In 2018, Canada legalized cannabis in all provinces and territories for adults 18 and over. This made Canada the second country to legalize recreational use of the plant, after Uruguay. However, two decades before recreational legalization, Canada had already legalized medical marijuana.

        In Canada, anyone can legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in every province. In some provinces, the law states that people can smoke cannabis anywhere they can smoke cigarettes. Still, these public areas are somewhat limited. 

        You can get cannabis from government-run shops or dispensaries.

        Malta

        Malta, a small European country, became the first in Europe (and the third in the world) to legalize marijuana fully

        At the end of 2021, the Maltese Parliament approved a bill meant to reduce the criminal trafficking of marijuana and end the oppression of marijuana consumers.

        Unlike the United States, nonprofit organizations in Malta must handle marijuana sales. 

        These organizations can sell up to 50 grams of cannabis products to each customer per month. In addition, you can possess up to seven grams of cannabis and grow up to four cannabis plants in Malta. 

        Consuming cannabis in public is illegal, but the punishment is mild.

        In other countries that legalized weed for recreational use, such as South Africa, there is no legal distribution system in place. That is not the case for Malta, where cannabis is accessible to all adults 18 years of age and older. 

            • Georgia
            • Parts of Australia
            • Parts of the United States
            • South Africa
            • Thailand
            • Uruguay

          Stay Globally Lit with Elevate Holistics 

          Is weed legal in other countries? Yes! Weed is legal in many areas around the globe. If you’re a traveling canna-consumer or are interested in moving to another country, this information could be a deal-maker or breaker.

          Do you need help starting your cannabis journey or improving it? Elevate Holistics is here to help with your weed needs. We offer a safe, secure, and straightforward way to get your medical marijuana card. Our process is 100% online, connecting you virtually with a certified MMJ doctor for medical card approval. 

          Have questions along the way? Click the link below to schedule a call; let’s help you to live your best life naturally. 

          Experience MMJ across the country with a medical card.

          With an MMJ card, you can buy weed in states you never could otherwise. Experience the benefits and get your card 100% online in less than 30 minutes.

          Get Your MMJ Card Right From Home

          Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

          About the author

          Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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