Please note that this guide will be updated on a monthly basis, or when the situation changes internationally, so please link to this page and bookmark it if you want to stay up to date with legal cannabis internationally, I will also update the map as I update the page.
Welcome to my (international guide) to legal marijuana, if you are unlucky enough to live in a place where smoking marijuana is illegal, then you will definitely have thought about moving to a place where it is legal before, this guide is for you.
Its true to say that legal cannabis is not the norm internationally right now, but with a recent historic trend towards legalisation in modern western economies, the graphic I created to accompany this article contains a lot more yellow (semi-legal) and green (legal) than it would have done a couple of decades ago. I can see this map turning mostly green in my lifetime.
What Do I Mean Legal?
Its important to first define what I mean by 'legal' and when we talk about legal cannabis, what we really want to know is if we can smoke it, grow it and sell it legally, without getting into trouble with the law and these are really three different things completely in the eyes of the law:
The countries that I highlighted in GREEN on my map are places where you are able to legally cultivate marijuana, legally sell marijuana and legally consume marijuana for recreational or medical purposes.
The countries that I have highlighted in YELLOW on the map are countries where marijuana cultivation, consumption and sale is semi-legal, usually you are only able to buy and consumer marijuana for medical purposes.
The countries that I have highlighted in ORANGE on the map are countries where it is illegal to cultivate, consume and sell marijuana in any way, but where it has been decriminalized for personal use and you are unlikely to get into trouble.
The countries in RED are the places where its totally illegal to grow, consume and sell marijuana in any way, shape, or form.
In BLACK I have marked out those countries where marijuana possession carries serious criminal penalties if you are caught.
Where Should You NEVER Smoke Marijuana?
First things first, there are some places in the world where you should never try to consume, cultivate or sell marijuana, because if you get caught there will be serious repercussions and criminal penalties. I have smoked weed in all of these countries, but thats because I have big brass balls and also because when I walk through customs, I look like a powerful business man in a fancy hat and I never get stopped. Don't think for a second you would get away with smuggling in weed or buying it in these countries, you may very well get into a lot of trouble.
United Arab Emirates : Getting caught in the UAE with even the tiniest trace of cannabis can get you a minimum mandatory sentence of four years. In extreme circumstances, if you’re caught with any in your blood, this can be considered “possession”. I personally have never managed to buy or smoke any weed in the UAE, its difficult as hell to come across, but I did smuggle some in once and vaped it in the toilets of the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid tower so I could enjoy the view properly.
Indonesia : Getting caught with a single joint in Indonesia can lead to a jail sentence of up to four years and if you accidently or purposefully import any cannabis in any amount, you can be put in prison for between five and 15 years. I have smoked weed all over Indonesia before and I got caught by the police multiple times, but I just bribed them with $10-$20 and they let me go every time. In general the weed quality is terrible in Indonesia, I never managed to get anything decent, it was all terribly poor quality and they have no idea how to grow it properly.
Malaysia : Possession of cannabis can land you in jail for up to five years (Section 6), and carries a fine of up to 20,000 ringgit (around $6,500), those who sell drugs can be punished with death and you can be jailed for having a single joint. I was passing through Kuala Lumpur once open my way to somewhere else and stayed for one day, I managed to buy some half decent weed that was far too expensive.
Japan : Under the Cannabis Control Law in Japan, being caught with even a single joint can get you a five year prison sentence with some hard labor thrown in for good measure, but foreigners are sometimes just deported. I went to a music festival on a beach in northern Japan once and found it really easy to buy decent weed, I also managed to buy weed in Okinawa before and that too was pretty good, but I bought it from American soldiers and they overcharged me, trying to tell me about it was imported on US military aircraft from Hawaii.
Saudi Arabia : Use and possession or marijuana for personal use is punishable by imprisonment if you are caught. for up to six months or more. Dealing and smuggling of high amounts of drugs usually result in harsher prison time. I could only really get hold of hashish in Riyadh and it was excellent, very high quality. You should never ask random strangers about marijuana, some people are deeply conservative.
Where is Marijuana Legal?
There are only two countries on my map that are green, just two places on earth where marijuana consumption, cultivation and sale is legal right now and Spain is still shady about legal cannabis cultivation and consumption in social clubs.
Uruguay : Legal cannabis heaven in this small South American country. In Uruguay it is completely legal to consume, cultivate and sell marijuana, albeit with some restrictions. For example, for personal consumption you can legally buy 40 grams (1.4 oz) of cannabis each month from he government, or you can grow up to six crops a year in your home, producing up to 480 grams (17 oz) per year. You can also become a member of a social club, registered social clubs are legally allowed to grow up to 99 plants a year for their members. Unless you are a social club, you need a license from the government to grow marijuana legally, large scale cultivation is tightly controlled and it is forbidden to transport across borders. Worth noting that foreigners are prohibited from buying cannabis, but nobody really seems to care when I did and I found it easy to buy weed.
Spain : Spain is the place to be in Europe right now if you want to smoke really good weed, simply because so much of it is being grown in this country and marijuana culture is deep rooted across the country. In Spain it is legal to consume marijuana, as long as you are not in a public place, but in cities like Bilbao, Barcelona and Valencia, I have gotten away with smoking in public places all the time. Spains criminal code prohibits the sale of marijuana commercially, but not the consumption or cultivation for personal use, so Spain is home to more than a thousand private members social clubs where you can legally buy and consume marijuana. I am a member of one and love going there and being part of it, its a social club first and a marijuana club second. In Spain its also legal to cultivate up to six plants in your own home for personal use, but everyone seems to grow much more than they are supposed to and you never hear of raids unless they are huge blatantly industrial operations.
This section was last updated Jan 20th 2017.
Where is Marijuana Semi Legal ?
The countries that I highlighted in yellow on the map are those countries where marijuana consumption, cultivation or sale is semi-legal. because in these countries you can legally consume marijuana, but not grow it, or sell it legally. In these countries, marijuana has either been 'decriminalized' in that country. or there are restrictions in place to prevent the public accessing marijuana, typically medical requirements that require you to first see a doctor before being given access to marijuana.
USA : The United States is a little confused about legal marijuana, its legal recreationally and medically in more than half of US states, but illegal nationally at Federal level. The only reason that the USA is yellow on my map right now is because while it is legal to cultivate, consume and sell marijuana in California where I tend to go (they just voted to make recreational cannabis legal here) and in a lot of other state, but not in the rest of the country. I have friends who are legally able to grow up to 100 plants under license from the California state government, but in other states that will get you put in prison for life. For a more detailed guide on legal cannabis in individual states, check out my article on the 2016 Marijuana Elections where I wrote about the states that have legalized it.
Canada : It is legal to possess, consume, or grow cannabis in Canada for medicinal purposes right now, with full legalization coming this year (2017), led by the Trudeau government who have a clear mandate to legalize marijuana from the electorate and have promised to do so. They haven't yet though as they struggle to work out legal marijuana and they are still raiding dispensaries and arresting employees who work in them. One of my favorite pastimes when in Canada is bouncing round the many dispensaries in Vancouver and Victoria where you can legally buy marijuana, everyone has different sources and strains, the variety is excellent. You can also smoke cannabis openly in public places and I absolutely love Canada for leading the way in the Western world with full legalization planned for 2017. Expect to see Canada go green this year!
Germany : Germany only just voted to legalise medical marijuana, but the possession of recreational cannabis is still illegal. However marijuana consumption itself is legal on the basis of it being considered 'self-harm' and therefore not considered a crime. Once I was caught driving through Germany on my way back from Amsterdam with a lot of different kinds of weed in lots of little 5gm baggies and they let me off with a 1000 EUR fine.
Colombia : The Colombians are very relaxed about marijuana consumption and cultivations, personal consumption of cannabis has been legalized for up to 22 grams for personal use and you are allowed to grow up to 20 plants legally, but even if you get caught with more than the legal amount, The Supreme Court of Justice ruled in 2016 that a person cannot be criminally prosecuted if it is found that they carry marijuana to satisfy their own personal consumption needs. Because its impossible to measure individual 'needs' for personal use making it effectively 'legal'.
India : India is a bit like the US in that marijuana is illegal at the federal level, but legal or tolerated in place like West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar, Orissa and the North East. In holy cities like Varanasi government shops legally sell cannabis in the form of bhang and bhang usage is traditional throughout India. Places like Goa on the old hippie trail are famous for marijuana parties on the beach.
Puerto Rico : Puerto Rico is very laid back about personal marijuana consumption and in 2015 the Governor of Puerto Rico signed a executive order to legalize cannabis for medicinal use. You can personally consume marijuana in Puerto Rico without any legal consequences.
Czech Republic : The Czech Republic is the destination in Eastern Europe for recreational marijuana smokers to visit, especially those coming from neighbouring Hungary where marijuana penalties are still quite severe. Since 2010 possession of up to fifteen grams for personal use or cultivation of up to five plants is a misdemeanor subject to minor fine, while medical cultivation and consumption is legal.
This section was last updated Jan 20th 2017.
Where Has Marijuana Been Decriminalized For Personal Use?
In all of the countries below that I have highlighted in orange on the map, it is illegal to cultivate, consume and sell marijuana in any way, but marijuana has been decriminalized for personal use as long as you have (usually) less than ten grams. If you get caught smoking or carrying small quantities of marijuana in the Netherlands, Greece, Argentina, Ukraine, Paraguay, Belgium, Malta, Peru, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Estonia, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ecuador, Russia, Costa Rica, Italy, Israel, Bangladesh, Belize, Australia and Austria, you are likely to get away with a slap on the wrists and a fine at worst.
This section was last updated Jan 20th 2017.