The State Of Marijuana Legalization In Europe

The State Of Marijuana Legalization In Europe

We focus much of our attention on the state of marijuana legalization in the United States. But how are things progressing in Europe?

European countries can’t seem to agree on policy when it comes to marijuana legalization. Some have decriminalized the drug, while others are looking to prosecute every user they can get their hands on.

Here’s a quick overview of the state of cannabis legalization across the pond.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is known for, among other things, coffee shops where you can buy and consume weed and edibles. While cannabis is still technically illegal in this country, the government has decided to tolerate coffee shops, which must submit to a set of strict regulations. Buying or selling weed on the street can still get you in trouble with the police, however. Not only that, but growing and transporting cannabis (with a few exceptions) is also illegal, which means that all the steps necessary to stock coffee shops with weed could get you arrested.


If you don’t want to get arrested, don’t buy or smoke weed in France. While there is never-ending debate in France about making marijuana legal, it’s not likely to happen any time soon, as too many people are still opposed to it. In the meantime, street dealers, trafficking, and grow houses remain a big (and needless) drain on French law enforcement. As for medical marijuana, it’s still very hard to get a prescription, and only a few synthetic cannabis drugs are allowed for medical use.


Germany legalized medical marijuana in 2017. And while Berlin is known for its party scene and easy access to illegal drugs — and while Many Germans, including the Association of German Criminal Officers, would love to see recreational cannabis legalized, as well — there is no indication that this is close to happening. While possession of small amounts of weed for personal use isn’t criminally prosecuted, we can’t encourage you to use cannabis in Germany.

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Obtaining CBD-dominant cannabis (with less than one percent THC) in Switzerland is rather easy. Switzerland is also considering legalizing cannabis for recreational use. Studies and pilot programs are now allowed, which means legalization is likely getting closer. For now, however, it remains illegal to consume recreational cannabis, although possession of 10 grams or less has been decriminalized. Public consumption will get you a fine, so be careful.


Ireland has strict laws when it comes to cannabis consumption. While some politicians are rallying for legalization — or at least the decriminalization of the possession of a few grams — recreational use remains illegal. You can get arrested for possession even if you only have a couple of grams on you, and trafficking and possession with intent to sell will get you put in front of a judge in criminal court. Medical use is allowed in some cases, but special approval is mandatory, and rather hard to obtain.

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The United Kingdom

While support for decriminalization is growing in the United Kingdom, possession of marijuana can still get you in a lot of trouble. Obtaining medical marijuana can be a hassle, too, as only the synthetic cannabinoid Nabilone and the cannabis-based medicine Sativex are licensed for medical use. The UK’s marijuana laws are among the strictest in the European Union, though things could change after Brexit has been completed, as the government will no longer have to follow the European Union’s directives.

Scandinavian Countries

Scandinavian countries are well known for their healthy lifestyle and good education system, but Sweden prohibits medical marijuana from being prescribed. If you happen to be there on vacation, avoid buying or using weed — even a small amount — as law enforcement is aggressive with its prosecution efforts.

Cannabis isn’t legal in Denmark, either. But in Copenhagen it’s possible to find weed quiet easily in the Christiana section of Copenhagen. Essentially a small town, Christiana has a history of squatters and street dealing, and it’s still possible to buy weed there today without any hassle, as the cops seldom visit. Use at your own risk, however, as cannabis is still technically illegal there.


Portugal likes to do things differently. In 2000, they decided to decriminalize individual possession and consumption of cannabis, as well as a handful of other drugs. The results have been positive, making Portugal an example for other European countries.