Quick Guide to Cannabis Laws Around the World

It’s probably safe to say that cannabis is well on the path to mainstream legalisation. That said, it’s definitely not there yet. Here’s a quick guide to cannabis laws around the world.



Cannabis usage is in various states of legality, or at least decriminalisation, in Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Ukraine. Everywhere else, it’s technically illegal but largely ignored, unless you happen to get caught out on a random search or annoy the local police for some other reason.

In general, you can avoid the chance of getting caught in a random search by smoking (or vaping) discreetly. This is recommended in any case. Apart from anything else, the smell of cannabis is pretty divisive.

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Please note that, in this case, the definition of Europe stops short of Turkey. Turkey is starting to ease off on cannabis slightly. It is, however, very advisable to leave it well alone if you go there.

As a final point, European police are only likely to turn a blind eye to weed which is in small enough quantities to be clearly for personal use. If you are carrying weed in larger quantities, it may look like you are going to sell it and that is definitely to be avoided. If you buy cannabis to share, divide it as quickly as possible.


The Americas and the Caribbean

In Canada and most of the U.S., cannabis usage is either legal or a misdemeanour. As with Europe, it’s highly advisable to be discreet even when cannabis is fully legal. People may not object to cannabis usage in principle, but they may object to the smell it creates if it’s smoked or vaped around them.

Once you head south of the U.S., the situation gets rather more complicated. The only country where cannabis use is a celebrated part of the culture is, of course, Jamaica. There are, however, several countries where it is either legal, semi-legal or ignored as long as you’re discreet. Currently, these are Argentina, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay.

As with Europe, outside of Jamaica, make sure you only carry a small amount of cannabis so that it’s clear that it’s for personal use.


The Middle East and Asia

The safest approach by far is to avoid cannabis when you’re in the Middle East or Asia. In simple terms, it’s currently illegal everywhere except South Korea where it can be used for medical purposes. There are rumours that it is legal in North Korea, but this is disputed. It’s also arguably a moot point.

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In the real world, depending on the country, using cannabis is anything from so serious that no sane person would even think about touching it no matter how ill they were to technically illegal but completely ignored.

Countries where you should not touch cannabis at all include Japan, the Koreas, KSA, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and Turkey. Countries where you may be fairly safe to use cannabis are Cambodia, India and Laos. Be aware, however, that foreigners cannot always expect to get away with doing as the locals do.


Australia, New Zealand and Africa

Currently, recreational cannabis is illegal in all of these countries. In Australia and New Zealand, it’s largely ignored, and, if you are caught, it’s likely to be treated as a misdemeanour. Again, this is assuming that you only have a very small quantity which is clearly for personal use.

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In Africa, enforcement of cannabis laws is generally inefficient, to put it mildly. The problem is that, if you get caught, the penalties are severe, particularly in Ethiopia and Nigeria. The only place it might be safe to try it is South Africa, but this is still not recommended.

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