All over the world, there is an evolution happening in the public opinion and perception of cannabis. Moreover, the governments of various countries have in some way, shape, or form and to a certain extent become more lenient when it comes to this particular issue.
There is still a lot to be done in the process of legalizing marijuana, but some steps have been taken.
The process of legalization should come as natural, or at least not as controversial and strenuous as it is right now. We have witnessed that the war on drugs in all of its forms has been futile, expensive, and, some would argue, inhumane to a certain degree.
We have heard those who are opposed to legalization utter unsubstantiated claims and beliefs which have no basis in evidence. Sometimes, it borders on infringing on individual liberties and possibly amounts to denying individuals autonomy over their own bodies.
Those of you who enjoy various benefits of marijuana, whether you use it recreationally or need it to treat your illness, you should be aware of the governing laws in the following countries should you decide to visit any of them in the foreseeable future.
If the Dutch were to stick to the letter of the law, cannabis would be illegal for recreational use, possession and trade. However, the Dutch government has opted for tolerating recreational use and, under certain circumstances, even tolerating possession and trade.
The Dutch law recognizes two types of drugs, soft and hard. The soft drugs, among which is marijuana, have a low risk of harm and addiction. Places with the permission to sell marijuana are called coffee shops and the possession for personal use up to 5 grams is tolerated. The production still remains an unresolved issue, but it’s on its way to a solution.
Germany is considered a major factor in the international community, and one of the strongest economies in the world. Furthermore, Germany is considered to be one of the more progressive countries in various aspects. However, it’s still lagging a bit behind its western progressive counterparts in the area of legalizing marijuana. Having said all of this, it’s not all gloom and doom for marijuana users.
There has been some progress made over the years, although at a slow pace. As of 2017, people with serious illnesses can smoke marijuana. Additionally, marijuana can only be obtained with a prescription and is covered by health insurance. There are no exceptions when it comes to who can use marijuana, and the rules are rather strict and there is essentially no way you can bypass them.
Those who use marijuana recreational has been considered as well. Namely, possession for recreational users is still illegal, the consumption is considered self-harm, and the authorities are not required to prosecute those who possess a “minor amount” with the exception when it’s done in public, in front of minors, or within the perimeter of public schools and prisons. You should also keep in mind that a “minor amount” is considered to be up to 6 grams in federal states and in Berlin up to 15 grams.
Scandinavian countries may come as a surprise to marijuana users. Most of us associate these countries with the tremendous natural beauty of tall and attractive laid back people. While this is true for the most part, their laws concerning marijuana may come as a surprise to marijuana users living outside of these countries.
Namely, Norway has been one of the strictest countries when it comes to marijuana. The amount which is considered to be for personal use is up to 15 grams. However, if an individual is caught with marijuana, they will be fined provided they’re a first time offender. Possessing over 15 grams is treated more severely. Furthermore, repeated offenders and dealers can be sentenced to imprisonment. Underage offenders must consent to a routine drug test so as not to be prosecuted. In recent years, some steps were taken towards decriminalizing drug use and recommendations will be submitted to the government by the end of 2019. The upside is that medicinal marijuana is allowed under special approval as of 2016.
The situation is even direr in Sweden as cannabis is illegal for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Furthermore, the Swedish government has zero tolerance policy, and the national police practice a policy known and “disturb and annoy”. Individuals may be stopped merely on the suspicion of use. Depending on whether an individual is a first time offender, a repeated offender, a dealer, the punishment varies from a fine to 10 years of imprisonment.
Among Scandinavian countries, Denmark might be the most marijuana-friendly country. Although cannabis is illegal for recreational use, sale and use have been unofficially tolerated in some part of Copenhagen. If someone in Denmark is caught with a small amount of weed for personal use, they will usually be punished with a fine. In some cases, people might only get a warning. On the other hand, possession of larger amounts of weed will result in a prison sentence.
The country of wine, cheese, and romance is missing another legal indulgence. Recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in France, despite the fact that in 2012 over 13 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 have tried weed, and over 1 million living in Metropolitan France considered themselves as regular users.
Since 2013, cannabis derivatives can be used in the manufacturing medicinal product but only after all other means of treatment have been exhausted. A recent report states that 40,9 % of the French population consumes cannabis. Despite numerous studies contradicting the negative campaign against cannabis and the growing support for its legalization, there seems to be no positive outcome for French recreational users.
The irony creeps up a bit when it comes to Italy and marijuana. Since we all love Italian food, and we love it, even more, when we’re high, this is a match made in heaven. Cannabis in Italy is legal for medical and industrial use. Recreational use of cannabis is still illegal but decriminalized.
Possessing small amounts can result in fines or in suspension of personal documents. Unlicensed cultivation in any amount and selling cannabis is punishable by imprisonment. We must keep in mind that there is still hope for legalizing marijuana in Italy. There have been efforts made toward legalization, and the support is still there, in fact, it’s overwhelming. According to a poll from 2015, 73% of Italians are in favor of legalization.
Spain has been described as the “new Amsterdam” due to Cannabis clubs. First of all, other than trade or sale, cannabis is decriminalized for personal cultivation and use in private areas, whereas public consumption can earn you a fine ranging from 601 to 30000 euros. The aforementioned Cannabis clubs owe their existence to grey areas in legislation and their fate is still uncertain.
The first one was established in 1991, and these clubs are non-profit associations which grow and sell cannabis at the cost to their members which pay a membership fee, and apparently, only Spanish citizens can be members. If you plan to visit Spain and maybe get high while there, exercise caution because foreigners are likely to experience different treatment by the authorities, especially if there is any disturbance to the community you happen to be in. As for the medicinal use of marijuana, that is legal, but only limited cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals.
In the Czech Republic, medical marijuana is legal since April of 2013 and possession of 180 grams of dry marijuana is allowed and can be obtained using an electronic prescription as prescribed by a physician. Although recreational use is still illegal, it has been decriminalized since 2010.
Cultivation of up to five plants or possession of up to 15 grams of dry weed for personal use is treated as a misdemeanor. It is quite easy to get the weed in concerts and bars, but keep in mind that it is illegal and possession of larger amounts can result in a jail sentence.