Countries Where Weed Is Illegal 2020

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Illegal but decriminalized

Illegal but often unenforced


The legality of marijuana is a controversial subject. Some people believe that marijuana has medical benefits that can help with a variety of ailments, from controlling pain to helping control diseases like Parkinson’s.

Other people believe that marijuana should be able to be used recreationally. A common argument is that marijuana is a plant that is less dangerous than legal substances like alcohol or prescription medications.

Still others believe that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to abuse of other drugs, including heroin or cocaine. For this reason, people believe that marijuana should be illegal.

In many countries around the world, government leaders mostly lean toward the negative aspects of marijuana. For this reason, it is still illegal in many nations around the country, although some nations have legalized it for medicinal use. The nations that have made it illegal to cultivate or use marijuana, either recreationally or medically, include:

Countries Where Weed Is Illegal 2020

Country Recreational Medical Notes Population 2020
IndiaIllegal, but exception is made for the use of bhang.IllegalAlbeit illegal, usage is prevalent and some government-owned shops sell cannabis in the form of bhang. States have their own laws regarding cannabis, locally known as ganja.1,380,004,385
United StatesLegalized in 11 states, 2 territories, and the District of Columbia – but illegal at federal level. Decriminalized in another 15 states and 1 territory.Legalized in 33 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia – but illegal at federal level.Cannabis remains a Schedule I drug at federal level, prohibiting even its medical use. The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prevents federal enforcement in states that have legalized medical, however. No such protections exist regarding recreational, but the federal government has so far generally not intervened. Recognized Indian reservations are allowed to legalize for either use under a policy announced in 2014.331,002,651
IndonesiaIllegalIllegalBanned in 1927. Minimum sentence of 4 years in prison (additional fines may apply) if caught in possession. However, if the user is underage, they may instead be sentenced to rehabilitation.273,523,615
PakistanIllegal, but often unenforced (particularly in some tribal regions)IllegalProhibited, but the smoking of hashish in Peshawar and the northern parts of Pakistan tends to be tolerated. One may be sent to jail for up to six months if found with charas in other parts of the country.220,892,340
BrazilIllegal (educational measures for small amounts and private use)SativexPossession of any illegal drug entails a warning, community service, and education on the effects of drug use. Possession of large amounts, as well as sale, transportation, and cultivation, are considered drug trafficking.212,559,417
BangladeshIllegal but often unenforcedIllegalSale banned in 1989, but laws are rarely enforced and cannabis is openly sold in many parts of the country.164,689,383
RussiaIllegalIllegalPossession of up to 6 g of cannabis (or 2 g of hashish) is an administrative offense, punishable by a fine of RUB 5,000 or detention of up to 15 days. Possession of larger amounts is a criminal offense. Foreign nationals and stateless individuals who violate the law are subject to deportation regardless of the amount.145,934,462
MexicoDe facto legal for personal use, regarding both possession and cultivation.Legal for medical use, THC content below 1%.Possession of 5 g decriminalized since 2009. In 2015 the Supreme Court voted 4-1 that prohibiting people from growing the drug for consumption was unconstitutional as it violated the human right to the free development of one's personality. In 2018 the Supreme Court reaffirmed the ruling, effectively making the law prohibiting cannabis unenforceable and requiring the legislature to act to formally legalize.128,932,753
JapanIllegalIllegalRestricted in 1948. Use and possession are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine. Cultivation, sale, and transport are punishable by 7–10 years imprisonment and a fine.126,476,461
EthiopiaIllegalIllegalDespite being the spiritual homeland of the Rastafari movement, possession of cannabis can result in up to six months imprisonment.114,963,588
PhilippinesIllegalIllegal but may be allowed with special permitMedical use of cannabis is possible with a special permit from the Food and Drugs Authority for use by individuals with serious or terminal illness.109,581,078
EgyptIllegal but often unenforcedIllegalIllegal since 1925 but use is widespread. Convictions for personal use are rare. Formerly a plant of high status with several documented medicinal uses in ancient times.102,334,404
Dr CongoIllegalIllegal89,561,403
TurkeyIllegalCannabis-derived pharmaceuticalsMedical cultivation legal in nineteen provinces. With permission, this can also be conducted in other provinces as well. Consuming any drug is illegal and requires juridical process. Possessing, purchasing, or receiving any illegal drug is punishable by 1–2 years of prison, treatment, or probation. Sale and supply is punishable by a prison term of 5–10 years, and production or trafficking by a minimum term of 10 years.84,339,067
IranIllegal, but not strictly enforcedIllegal83,992,949
GermanyIllegal, but occasionally tolerated. Under federal law, prosecution is optional for possession of "small amounts".LegalRecreational possession illegal, but criminal charges are sometimes dropped. Consumption itself considered legal self-harm, but driver's licenses are almost always suspended, regardless of whether a car was used under the influence. Since early 2017, medicinal use is legal for seriously ill patients who have consulted with a doctor and have absolutely no therapeutic alternative.83,783,942
ThailandIllegal but often unenforcedLegalCriminalized in 1935. Possession, cultivation, and transport (import/export) of up to 10 kg of cannabis may result in a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison or a fine. Medical use was made legal in 2018.69,799,978
United KingdomIllegalLegal for cases of severe epilepsy, vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy, or multiple sclerosis when prescribed by a registered specialist doctor.Banned in 1928, made a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.67,886,011
FranceIllegalSome cannabis-derived drugs.Possession entails a 200€ fine since November 2018. Medical use of some cannabinoid drugs legalized in 2013.65,273,511
ItalyDecriminalized; allowed for religious usage, legal below 0.6% THCLegalPossession of small amounts for personal use is a misdemeanor subject to fines and the suspension of documents (passports or driver's licenses). Sale and cultivation punishable by imprisonment, even if in small amounts and for exclusive personal use. Licensed cultivation for medicinal and industrial use strictly regulated.60,461,826
South AfricaLegal for possession and cultivation but not for sale.Use is legal, but no system for the dispensing of medicinal cannabis exists.Private use and cultivation decriminalized since 2018.59,308,690
MyanmarIllegal but often unenforcedIllegal54,409,800
South KoreaIllegalLegal, but access limited to Epidiolex, Marinol and Sativex as of now due to the policy implemented by the Ministry of Food and Drug SafetyMedical use of cannabis was legalized in November 2018. The plant itself, however, remains unavailable due to the policy made by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.51,269,185
ColombiaDecriminalized up to 22 g or cultivation of 20 plants for personal useLegalDecriminalized up to 22 g for personal consumption. Individuals carrying greater amounts, or cultivating up to 20 plants, cannot be prosecuted if the drug is for personal use.50,882,891
SpainUse and possession in private areas allowed. Public consumption can result in a fine from 601 to 30000 €. Cultivation for personal use allowed in private areas including Cannabis Social Clubs.Limited cannabis-derived pharmaceuticalsSale and importation punishable by jail time. All actions related to cannabis apart from sale or trade aren't considered criminal offenses, but misdemeanors punishable by a fine. Legalized in Catalonia in 2017, but that law was challenged by the state and declared unconstitutional. Cultivation allowed in private areas if the plants cannot be seen from the street or other public spaces.46,754,778
ArgentinaDecriminalizedLegalDecriminalized for small amounts and private consumption, as ruled by the Supreme Court in 2009. Medicinal cannabis legal nationally since 21 September 2017.45,195,774
UkraineIllegalIllegalPossession of up to 5 g or cultivation of 10 plants is an administrative (rather than a criminal) offense, but detention of up to 15 days is still possible.43,733,762
AfghanistanIllegalIllegalProduction banned by King Zahir Shah in 1973.38,928,346
PolandIllegal, but sometimes not enforced for small amounts, legal below 0.2% THCLegalSince 2011, prosecutors can choose not to prosecute possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use if it is a first offense or if the person is drug dependent. Possession of large quantities of drugs can result in up to 10 years in prison.37,846,611
CanadaLegalLegalLegal for medicinal purposes since 2001 and for recreational purposes since October 17, 2018. Age and regulations of consumption vary by province.37,742,154
MoroccoIllegal but often unenforcedIllegalAll drugs banned since 1974, but cannabis is partially tolerated. Morocco is still among the world's top producers of hashish.36,910,560
Saudi ArabiaIllegalIllegalUse and possession for personal use of any kind of recreational drugs is punishable by imprisonment if caught. Imprisonment for personal use can entail jail time of six months or more. Dealing and smuggling high amounts of drugs usually result in harsher prison time or even execution, although recently executions have been rare. Foreigners who use drugs might be deported.34,813,871
UzbekistanIllegalIllegalOpiates, cannabis and other plants containing psychotropic substances are illegal.33,469,203
PeruDecriminalizedLegalPossession of up to 8 g is not punished. Cultivation, production, and sale are punished with 8–15 years in prison.32,971,854
MalaysiaIllegalIllegalMandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers, legally defined as individuals possessing more than 200 g (7 oz) of cannabis.32,365,999
NepalIllegal (legal during Maha Shivaratri)IllegalAll cannabis licenses canceled in 1973. Despite being illegal, cannabis is cheap and widely available in Nepal, and the police have little to no interest in cannabis-related issues.29,136,808
VenezuelaIllegalIllegalPossession of up to 20 g of marijuana or 5 g of genetically modified marijuana for commercial purposes is punishable by 1–2 years in prison at judge's discretion. If deemed to be for personal consumption, the user is subject to security measures involving rehabilitation and detoxification procedures.28,435,940
Ivory CoastIllegalIllegal26,378,274
North KoreaUnknownUnknownThere are conflicting reports on the legal status of cannabis in North Korea. Multiple reports from defectors and tourists claim there is no law regarding the possession of cannabis (as a result, it is not classified as a drug) in North Korea or if there is, it is mostly unenforced. However, other reports claim that cannabis is illegal.25,778,816
AustraliaDecriminalized for personal use in the Northern Territory, and South Australia. Legal for personal use and cultivation, but not for purchasing, in the Australian Capital Territory from January 2020Legal at federal level and in all states. Qualifying conditions and other details vary by state.25,499,884
TaiwanIllegalIllegalCannabis is a schedule 2 narcotic in the ROC, and possession can result in up to 3 years imprisonment.23,816,775
Sri LankaIllegalLegalized by amendment made in colonial law by 1980s and through the Ayurveda Act.The sale of cannabis is decriminalized for traditional medicine vendors and it is commonly used in Ayurvedic traditional medicines.21,413,249
Burkina FasoIllegalIllegal20,903,273
RomaniaIllegalCannabis-derived drugs less than 0.2% THC can be prescribedSmall quantities punishable by a large fine for first offenders or 6 months to 2 years in prison if the person has been convicted before. Possession of large amounts or trafficking is punishable by 2–7 years of jail time. Decriminalization proposed. Limited medical use approved in 2013.19,237,691
MalawiIllegalIllegalIllegal but widely used and cultivated; Malawian cannabis is famed internationally for its quality. Chamba is grown mainly in central and northern regions like Mzuzu.19,129,952
ChileDecriminalized for possession and cultivationLegalPrivate personal use and recreational cultivation decriminalized. Medicinal cultivation legal with the authorization of The Chilean Agriculture Service (SAG) and sale of medication allowed on prescription in pharmacies.19,116,201
GuatemalaIllegalIllegalIn 2016 a constitutional commission rejected proposals to legalize medicinal or recreational use of cannabis.17,915,568
EcuadorDecriminalized up to 10 gLegalPossession of small amounts decriminalized. Possession of under 10 g is considered personal use and not punished.17,643,054
SyriaIllegalIllegalReportedly punished by life imprisonment under Bashar al-Assad's government policies. As a result of civil war, people living in areas controlled by Kurdish separatists have begun growing cannabis as a way of making money to fight poverty.17,500,658
NetherlandsIllegal – but use and sale is tolerated in licensed coffeeshops. Possession of up to 5 g is decriminalized. Cultivation of up to 5 plants is unenforced for non-commercial use (unless grown in a professional setup).LegalPersonal possession decriminalized and sale allowed only in certain licensed coffeeshops in the continental Netherlands. Cultivation often tolerated but growers can still have their plants and equipment confiscated and face eviction or cancellation of their mortgage for one single plant. Zero tolerance policy in the Caribbean Netherlands.17,134,872
CambodiaIllegal but often unenforcedIllegalIllegal, but this prohibition is lax and enforced opportunistically. "Happy" restaurants in cities publicly offer food cooked with marijuana, or as a side garnish.16,718,965
TunisiaIllegalIllegalBanned in 1953. Using or possessing entails 1–5 years of imprisonment + 1000-3000 dinars (around 500$-1500$).11,818,619
BoliviaDecriminalized up to 50 gIllegal11,673,021
BelgiumDecriminalized up to 3 g or cultivation of one plantCannabis-derived drugsUp to 3 g legal for adults since 2003.11,589,623
South SudanIllegalIllegal11,193,725
Dominican RepublicIllegalIllegal10,847,910
Czech RepublicDecriminalized up to 10 g or cultivation of 5 plantsLegalPossession of up to 10 g or cultivation of up to 5 plants is an infraction subject to a minor fine – mostly not enforced. Popular destination for smokers. Medicinal use legal and regulated since 2013.10,708,981
PortugalDecriminalized up to 25 g of herb or 5 g of hashishLegalIn 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs.10,196,709
SwedenIllegalIllegalAll cannabis-related activity illegal. The national police runs a "disturb and annoy" program aimed at users supported by the national "zero tolerance" policy.10,099,265
HondurasIllegalIllegalThe possession, sale, transportation, and cultivation of cannabis is illegal in Honduras.9,904,607
United Arab EmiratesIllegalIllegalEven the smallest amounts of the drug can lead to a mandatory 4-year prison sentence.9,890,402
HungaryIllegalIllegalThere is no distinction in Hungarian law between illicit drugs according to dangers. Heroin use has the same legal consequences as cannabis use.9,660,351
AustriaPossession for personal use decriminalized as of January 2016.Cannabis-derived drugs9,006,398
Papua New GuineaIllegalIllegal8,947,024
SerbiaIllegalIllegalPossession punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to 3 years. Sale and transportation punishable by imprisonment of 3–12 years. Cultivation punishable by imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years. Higher penalties for organized crime.8,737,371
IsraelDecriminalizedLegalAs of April 2019, public possession of small amounts is a non-criminal offense punished by escalating fines. A third offense can result in criminal charges, however. Possession in the privacy of one's home is not punished.8,655,535
SwitzerlandDecriminalizedLegalSince 2012, possession of 10 g or less is decriminalized to a fine.8,654,622
Sierra LeoneIllegalIllegalCannabis banned in 1920.7,976,983
Hong KongIllegalIllegalPossession, sale, transportation, and cultivation illegal under the Dangerous Drug Ordinance. (Chapter 134 of the Law of Hong Kong)7,496,981
LaosIllegal but often unenforcedIllegal7,275,560
ParaguayDecriminalized up to 10 gIllegalPossession of up to 10 g not punished.7,132,538
BulgariaIllegalIllegalCannabis is classified as a class A (High-risk) drug, together with heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and MDMA (ecstasy). Until 2004, a loosely defined "personal dose" existed.6,948,445
LebanonIllegalIllegalHashish banned in 1926; cannabis cultivation banned in 1992. Possession is illegal. However, large amounts are grown within the country and personal use, as long as not in public, is not a major issue.6,825,445
El SalvadorIllegalIllegal6,486,205
SingaporeIllegalIllegalBanned in 1870. Cannabis is a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, making it illegal to cultivate, sell, or possess. Those who are caught with 500g of cannabis or more are considered drug traffickers and are punished with a possible death penalty.5,850,342
DenmarkIllegalLegal (4-year pilot program beginning in January 2018)As with all drugs, cannabis-related offenses are punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to 2 years. Freetown Christiania, a self-declared autonomous community in Copenhagen, is known for its cannabis trade.5,792,202
FinlandIllegal but sometimes not enforcedLegal under license.Personal use is generally not prosecuted in court but subject to summary fine. Medicinal cannabis possible under a special license since 2006; in 2014, 223 licenses were issued.5,540,720
Republic Of The CongoIllegalIllegal5,518,087
SlovakiaIllegalIllegalPossession of small amounts punishable by up to 8 years in prison. In April 2012, The Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Fico, the incoming Slovak prime minister, might push for partial legalization of cannabis possession, and has argued for the legalization of possession of up to three doses of cannabis for personal use.5,459,642
NorwayCurrently illegal (in process of decriminalization)LegalPersonal use of up to 15 g punished with a fine and a criminal record in the case of first-time offenders; larger amounts and second offenses are punished more harshly. Minors are routinely compelled to consent to regular supervised drug testing under threat of prosecution. In March 2018, the government created a working group tasked with decriminalizing drug use and mandating police to impose forced medical treatment of addicts instead of fines and imprisonment.5,421,241
Costa RicaDecriminalizedIllegalDecriminalization de facto implemented since police officers do not detain people carrying enough for only personal consumption, yet no amount has been defined as a minimum for possession. Use of cannabis is widespread throughout the country.5,094,118
IrelandIllegalLegal as part of 5-year pilot program enacted in June 2019The National Drugs Strategy of 2009–2016 did not favor decriminalizing cannabis. A new strategy was planned for 2017. Cannabis-derived medicines may be licensed since 2014. A review of policy on medicinal cannabis was announced in November 2016, and a private member's bill to legalize it passed second stage in the Dáil in December 2016.4,937,786
Central African RepublicIllegalIllegal4,829,767
New ZealandIllegal (Legalization referendum to be held in 2020)LegalBanned in 1927. Possession over 28 g is presumed for supply. Medical use was legalized in December 2018, and a binding referendum on recreational use is to be held during the 2020 general election.4,822,233
CroatiaDecriminalizedLegalPossession of small amounts considered a misdemeanor which leads to fine. Medicinal cannabis legal for patients with illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, or AIDS.4,105,267
GeorgiaLegal for possession and consumption but not for sale, per a July 2018 ruling by the Constitutional Court of Georgia.Use is legal, but no system for the dispensing of cannabis exists.3,989,167
UruguayLegal, but buying prohibited for foreigners. Cultivation allowed up to six plants.Legal for all uses.Legal since late 2013. Buyers must be eighteen or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities. Authorities grow the cannabis that can be sold legally.3,473,730
Bosnia And HerzegovinaIllegalIllegalIn 2016, the Ministry of Civil Affairs formed a task force to explore the legalization of cannabis and cannabinoids for medicinal purposes.3,280,819
JamaicaDecriminalized up to 2 oz or cultivation of 5 plants. Legal for Rastafari.LegalDecriminalized since 2015, and in 2018 the first medical cannabis dispensary opened.2,961,167
AlbaniaIllegalIllegalProhibited but plants highly availabile throughout the country and law often unenforced.2,877,797
LithuaniaIllegalLegalA bill to legalize medical use of cannabis was passed by the Seimas on 11 October 2018.2,722,289
NamibiaIllegalIllegalCannabis is illegal; in 2007 the government proposed but declined a 20-year jail sentence for any drug possession.2,540,905
BotswanaIllegalIllegalCannabis (or dagga) is illegal.2,351,627
LesothoIllegal but toleratedIllegalLicensed cultivation allowed for export to other countries. Also widely grown for illicit purposes.2,142,249
MacedoniaIllegalLegalIf one possesses large amounts, a jail sentence of anywhere from 3 months to 5 years may be given. Medicinal cannabis legalized since 2016.2,083,374
SloveniaDecriminalizedCannabis-based drugsCannabis-based drugs are legal for medicinal use, but not cannabis itself. Possession of any drug for personal use is decriminalized.2,078,938
Guinea BissauIllegalIllegal1,968,001
LatviaIllegalIllegalPossession of up to 1 g can result in a €280 fine; for second offenses within a year period, criminal charges are applied. Larger quantities can be punished with up to 15 years in prison.1,886,198
Equatorial GuineaIllegalIllegal1,402,985
Trinidad And TobagoIllegalIllegalBanned in 1925.1,399,488
EstoniaDecriminalizedWith a special permitUp to 7.5 g is considered an amount for personal use, and is punished with a fine. Large amounts and distribution are criminal offenses punishable with a custodial sentence of up to 5 years.1,326,535
Timor LesteIllegalIllegal1,318,445
CyprusIllegalLegalClass B substance – life imprisonment is possible for use and maximum 8 years for possession (at the maximum 2 years for the first offense for under 25-year-olds).1,207,359
ComorosIllegalIllegalCannabis was legal during the Comorian historical period between January 1975 and May 1978, when president Ali Soilih legalized cannabis consumption among other measures.869,601
GuyanaIllegalIllegalPossession of 15 g or over can result in charges of drug trafficking.786,552
BhutanIllegalIllegalIllegal, but plants grow prolifically and have multiple traditional uses, such as feeding pigs and producing textiles.771,608
Solomon IslandsIllegalillegal686,884
LuxembourgDecriminalizedLegalTransportation and consumption are illegal. Decriminalized since 2001, with prison penalty replaced by a monetary fine ranging from €250 to €2,500.625,978
SurinameIllegalIllegalCannabis was banned in Suriname in the early 20th century, having been popularized there by Asian immigrants.586,632
Cape VerdeIllegalIllegal555,987
MaltaDecriminalized up to 3.5 gLegalAs of 2015, simple possession is decriminalized, but remains an arrestable offense for the police purpose of collecting intelligence about drug trafficking. Cultivation for personal use will no longer be punishable by a mandatory prison sentence or suspended sentence.441,543
BelizeDecriminalized up to 10 gIllegalPossession prohibited, but use is common and largely tolerated. Laws decriminalizing possession of up to 10 g "in the works".397,628
IcelandIllegalIllegalBanned in 1969. Possession of small amounts is subject to arrest and fine but no threat of jail time.341,243
Sao Tome And PrincipeIllegalIllegal219,159
Saint LuciaIllegalIllegal183,627
Saint Vincent And The GrenadinesIllegalIllegal110,940
Antigua And BarbudaDecriminalizedIllegal97,929
DominicaIllegalIllegalClass B drug to cultivate, sell, or possess.71,986
BermudaDecriminalized up to 7 gLegalIn November 2016, the Supreme Court of Bermuda ruled in favor of allowing the medical use of cannabis. As of July 2018, two doctors have been licensed to prescribe the drug.62,278
Marshall IslandsIllegalIllegal59,190
Saint Kitts And NevisDecriminalized up to 15 gIllegal53,199
San MarinoIllegalLegal33,931
Vatican CityIllegalIllegal801