Countries around the world that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana

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Countries around the world that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana


The legalization of marijuana in Ukraine is a debatable issue. Reasoning about the pros and cons of this process is still relevant not only in our country, but also in the world. The discussions take into account the experience of countries where “legalization” or decriminalization is a settled matter. It is important to remember that even in these countries, “medical” and “recreational” marijuana often have different status: the first is legalized, and the second is decriminalized (Argentina, Australia, Chile, etc.) or both are legalized (Canada, some states of America) . And do not forget that legalization can be full or limited – for example, in Georgia it is legal to store and consume, but not to trade. Let’s remember the advantages of legalization and list the countries where weed was legalized in 2019.

Why bans don’t work


The legalization of marijuana in Georgia has caused discussions among supporters and opponents of legalization in Ukraine as well. Ukrainians are closely watching the experience of Georgia, studying the pros and cons of legalization. What if we follow the example of the Georgians?
The legalization of marijuana in our country is impossible without a consensus on this issue from the majority of society. We are doing a lot to stop demonizing cannabis and equating it with opiates, for example, we write materials using scientific articles about how the “weed” is used in the treatment of PTSD, how it helps with organ transplants (paradoxically, even in countries with legalize, a patient will be denied a transplant if it turns out that he used marijuana), what is its use as a recreational drug. However, at the global level, there are still enough myths about cannabis and objections to its legalization.

In this case, the ban does not work, and here’s why:

  1. The first ban in the United States happened in 1937. Until then, almost no one had heard of marijuana, but today, even in the States where it is banned, more than 118 million Americans admit to using, and four out of five high school students say that it is easy to get it (according to the study “Monitoring the Future”. Prohibition does not work, and criminalization is a waste of state resources.
  2. At the same time, taxes on cannabis sales withdrawn from the shadow sphere bring money to the treasury.
  3. By chasing “criminals” who use, possess or sell marijuana, the police pay less attention to real crimes. Let us turn to the experience of America: there are more arrests and charges “for weed” than for crimes related to violence.
  4. The accusation and condemnation associated with marijuana can ruin the life of a person in whose life weed is the only “crime”.
  5. The legalization of marijuana does not affect the use of marijuana by adolescents (for whom its use is still prohibited) – this is evidenced by the experience of the States: in no state that legalized marijuana for adults, there was an overall increase in rates of its use by adolescents outside the confidence interval. Moreover, a number of studies indicate a slight decrease within the confidence intervals.
  6. Cannabis use is punished selectively: as a rule, people from the highest social strata can possess and use and even distribute with little or no punishment. American researchers also point out that in states where cannabis is banned, blacks have a higher risk of being convicted (three times), as well as receiving more severe punishment than whites (ceteris paribus – use, possession, trade).
  7. Marijuana prohibition breeds crime and violence. The same principle applies here as in the case of the ban on alcohol: the lucrative market goes into the shadows, buyers and sellers are not protected, inevitable disputes cannot be resolved legally.
  8. Legalization allows you to regulate and control production and the market. Illegal sellers operate where they see fit, and this is what allows them to sell marijuana to minors. The ban also “guarantees” that plants can be grown with toxic fertilizers, and the finished product will not be tested for purity (presence of pesticides, molds and fungi), potency, THC and CBD content.
  9. The ban harms the environment. This point is related to the previous one: illegal marijuana producers use pesticides, incorrectly dispose of hazardous waste, and pollute the environment. Regulated enterprises are controlled, checked for compliance with growing conditions and the finished product with environmental standards.
  10. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. There is a lot of research on this: marijuana is less toxic, does not cause chemical dependence, and is less likely to cause medical problems for users. It is socially safer: the person who has used it is not aggressive, not prone to disrupting public order and committing crimes.


The statistics of deaths from alcohol poisoning, as well as crimes caused by alcohol (for example, domestic murders) are impressive. At the same time, deaths from the use of marijuana are zero in the entire history of its use. In fact, there are no confirmed deaths from cannabis use.


How many countries have legalized marijuana? It is difficult to give a definite answer to this question due to the different statuses of medical and recreational cannabis, the difference between legalization and decriminalization, as well as the specific conditions of legalization (legal use, storage, distribution). However, we can look at the experience of countries that do better with marijuana status than ours.
The countries that legalized marijuana smoking and medical use in 2019 are not only European. Among them there are a number of countries (for example, Cambodia or Thailand), where formally it is impossible to use, but in practice there will be no punishment for this.

Here are the countries that legalized weed in 2019:


Recreational use has been decriminalized in a number of territories, and medical marijuana is legal at the federal and regional levels. Quality requirements vary from region to region.

In 2016, possession for personal use was decriminalized. Medicines containing cannabis are allowed for medical use.

  • Antigua and Barbuda

An island nation in the Caribbean that decriminalizes recreational use and possession, but prohibits medical use.

Recreational is decriminalized, medical is legalized.

Decriminalized cultivation and possession (up to 3 grams). Medicines containing cannabis are allowed.

Decriminalized possession and consumption by private individuals (up to 10 grams), medical use is prohibited.

  • Bermuda

Recreational use is decriminalized (up to 7 grams), medical marijuana is legal.

A country where medical cannabis is illegal, but for private use it is allowed to keep as much as 50 grams.

It is possible to store “small quantities” for personal use, but in some cases, possession may entail community service and education about the effects of drug use. Growing, storing, selling and transporting quantities greater than what is needed for personal use is illegal drug trafficking and carries criminal penalties. Acceptable for medical use.

Medical marijuana is legal.

  • Great Britain

Recreational use is prohibited. Medical – allowed in cases of severe nausea caused by chemotherapy or multiple sclerosis, with a prescription from a doctor.

Medical marijuana is legal, with “small amounts” allowed for home use.

Medical marijuana is legal. Legal medical use under a four-year pilot program starting in 2018.

All marijuana is illegal, but in practice it is not punishable.

Generally illegal, but domestic use in bhang is allowed.

Private use and storage is allowed, for public use – a fine of up to 30,000 euros. Can be grown in private facilities, including “cannabis social clubs”

Recreational use is decriminalized and medical marijuana is legal.

Recreational marijuana is decriminalized and legal for religious use. Medical is legal.

In fact, recreational use is illegal here, but in practice it is almost never punished.

A country where both recreational and medical cannabis are fully legal.

Medical marijuana is legal.

You can store 22 grams or grow 20 bushes for personal use. Medical marijuana is legal.

Recreational use decriminalized.

Medical – legal, recreational – decriminalized.

Recreational marijuana (up to 3.5 grams) has been decriminalized, medical marijuana is legal.

Decriminalized for personal use. Medical use – with restrictions on the level of THC content.

Recreational use is allowed (decriminalized), medical use is not.

Legal during Mahashivaratri.

Medical use is legal. Contrary to popular belief, recreational use is not legalized, but decriminalized (up to 5 grams and 5 plants), sale and consumption in licensed coffee shops is also allowed.

  • New Zealand

Only medical marijuana is legal.

There is a process of decriminalization of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana is legal.

Decriminalized (up to 10 grams).

Recreational marijuana is decriminalized, medical marijuana is legal.

“Little quantities” are allowed for everyday use, medical marijuana is completely legal.

Decriminalized up to 25 grams of grass or 5 – hashish, medical marijuana is legal.

Medicines containing cannabis are allowed.

Legal medical cannabis.

Marijuana has been decriminalized for everyday use, and medications containing marijuana are also allowed.

  • North Macedonia

Only medical marijuana is legal.

Recreational use is legal (with varying degrees of restrictions) in 10 states and 2 territories, and decriminalized in another 15 states and one territory. At the federal level, it is illegal. Medical use is permitted in 33 states and four territories, but prohibited at the federal level.

Recreational use is illegal, but often not punishable in practice. Medical marijuana is legal.

Cannabis-based drugs are allowed.

Recreational use is completely legal, but sales to foreigners are prohibited. Medical marijuana is legal.

Recreational use illegal, medical use with special permission.

Recreational use is illegal, but in practice it is not punishable. Medical marijuana is legalized (with a license).

Cannabis-containing preparations are allowed.

Recreational use is decriminalized, medical use is legalized.

You can legally own and grow. Medical marijuana is completely legal.

You can legally grow up to 5 bushes or store up to 10 grams. Medical use permitted.

Only medical marijuana is legal.

Everyday use is decriminalized, medical use is legalized. Up to 10 grams and for personal use only.

Decriminalized private use, medical – with special permission.

Cultivation and consumption are legal, but not sale. Medical use is legal, but marijuana distribution networks do not yet exist.

Recreational use is prohibited, medical use is allowed with certain restrictions.

You can have up to five bushes and up to two ounces of marijuana. Medical use legal.

In Ukraine, both recreational and medical use of cannabis is illegal. For our country to become one of the states where marijuana was legalized in 2019, come to the Freedom March 2019, which will take place on June 15. The main issue of the march is the legalization of medical marijuana.