The Greener Institute_ Weed Around the World_ How Other Countries Approach Marijuana

The United States is slowly (some may say very slowly) inching closer to decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana on a federal level. As of 2020, a majority of the states in the US have adopted medical marijuana programs, and a slew of others have legalized recreational marijuana. The scientific research continues to back cannabis as a viable medication for a number of conditions while it simultaneously breaks down decade-long stigmas towards the substance. So, how does America’s views towards marijuana compare to other countries?

Let’s break down which countries have open minds when it comes to weed! 


Starting with our neighbor in the North, in October of 2018, Canada legalized recreational marijuana completely. Growers can obtain licenses from the federal government, and the production and distribution of products is controlled province by province. 


Our neighbor in the South, on the other hand, has not legalized recreational marijuana, though the possession and use of amounts less than 5 grams is decriminalized. On the whole, cultivation and selling marijuana is still very illegal. 


This one is kind of a no brainer… Weed has been decriminalized in Jamaica since 2015. Tourists often tell stories about groups of people passing a joint in the middle of town in broad daylight (before COVID, of course!). What’s more, if you’re Rastafarian, you can possess and smoke as much weed as you’d like with little to no repercussions. 


Like Mexico, marijuana is not legal recreationally, but the possession and use of the substance in quantities equal to or less than 10 grams is decriminalized. 

Costa Rica

This one is a bit weirder… marijuana is technically illegal in Costa Rica, but using the substance comes with no legal penalties. If anything, the country employs a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy towards weed.


Little known to many, but Argentina is incredibly progressive when it comes to marijuana. In 2017, they became the first country in the world to provide medical marijuana for free. What’s more, for nearly a decade now, recreational use is decriminalized and those who are caught using or in possession of the substance will not be arrested. 


Columbia has decriminalized the possession of 20 grams or less for over a decade. It is still illegal to grow marijuana with the intent to sell it, but individuals can grow up to 20 plants for personal use. 


This is a country that should get more attention from the cannabis community. After all, it was the first country EVER to legalize marijuana for those 18 and up. To participate, those who wish to buy, grow, or sell the substance must first register with the government. Once you’re registered, you can literally walk to the pharmacy and pick up some weed along with your bandaids, hand sanitizer, and whatever else is on your list!

North Korea

What’s up with weed in North Korea? Short answer… No one really knows. 


If you like weed, you should check out Cambodia. While still technically illegal, marijuana in this country is cheap and culturally accepted. What’s more, restaurant menus often label certain dishes as being “Happy,” which, you guessed it, means it was infused with THC in some way shape or form. 


Italy’s relationship with marijuana is a complicated one. They have been a big cannabis producer throughout history, but cultivation or selling the substance will result in steep penalties. Additionally, possessing even small amounts of marijuana will result in a misdemeanor.


For those 18 and up, possessing 3 or less grams of marijuana is decriminalized. However, it is still encouraged to be as discreet as possible.

The Netherlands

For decades, it has been completely legal and normal to smoke weed amongst friends in coffee shops! I mean, what could be better? Coffee and cannabis are a match made in heaven.


Like Italy, Spain’s relationship with cannabis is complicated. As a whole, the culture is lax towards the substance. The traffic of cannabis (i.e. growing to sell) is illegal, but growing marijuana for personal use and smoking it is legal. If you were to grow and consume cannabis on and in your own property, you’re fine. What’s more, smoking clubs are wildly popular in the country due to the decriminalization of marijuana use in private spaces. At the same time, though, it is illegal to use in public spaces. At the end of the day, if you’re in Spain you should practice caution when consuming marijuana. 


Doing a complete 180 from the confusion of Spain’s views towards cannabis, Portugal decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. People are allowed to carry up to 25 grams of marijuana at a time without legal penalty. 


Switzerland has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana (10 grams or less) to a fine, but the substance remains illegal as a whole. 

The Czech Republic

Medical marijuana has been legal in the Czech Republic for years now and they have also decriminalized the possession of marijuana up to 15 grams. Like many other places on the list, you can technically use the substance here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be discreet.


Cannabis is illegal in Russia. However, they have decriminalized the possession of marijuana in amounts up to 6 grams. Getting caught with a small amount is categorized as an administrative offense, which can result in fines or a detention stay up to 15 days long. 


The country down under has been at the forefront of medical marijuana research for years now. Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Australia, but it has been decriminalized. 

This list is not exhaustive in terms of countries (obviously there are a LOT more countries we could cover) or their laws (laws in other countries are constantly changing and can be hard to pinpoint). If you’re planning a vacation abroad and want to know what’s up with cannabis in your destination, this list can be a great starting point, but we heavily encourage you to do your own, exhaustive research to determine whether it is safe for you to consume marijuana there. 

While you can’t smoke recreationally in a majority of the US, including our home base of PA, you may be eligible for the PA Medical Marijuana Program. If you’re a PA resident, we can help you obtain your medical marijuana card. Click here to get started today!

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