Where is Cannabis Legal in Europe?
With cannabis legalization sweeping across America, people in Europe want to know if it’s legal closer to home. In a lot of cases, if you’re using cannabis in Europe, it can result in a slap on the wrist, a hefty fine, or even jail time. Most people in Europe already know the legalities in their own country — but it’s a big place with many different laws.
Planning on visiting a European country for the summer? American and European cultures can have very different views on cannabis — including the way that it can be used, and how people can be prosecuted for possession. Yes, you’re in Europe, but not every country abides by the same rules.
If cannabis is legal in your country (outside of Europe), you’ll need to do your research before you visit — learn where it’s OK to use cannabis, and where it’s seriously not. The last thing you want to do on your holiday is to end up on ‘Banged up Abroad’.
There are always misconceptions between legalized and decriminalized — but you’ve got to get them right. You’ll see the definition of both below:
Decriminalization: It was once a crime, but due to changes in society and moral views, it’s now been changed — it’s not harmful enough to be brought to the criminal justice system. This means that you won’t go to prison, but you’ll still receive a fine or penalty.
Again, this depends on what country you’re in. Some countries state that cannabis is decriminalized, but if you’re caught with the intent to sell, then you can go to prison for it. Others have decriminalized it for home use, but not public use.
Legalization: It was once a crime, but is now completely legal. You should not receive fines, penalties, or prison time.
Cannabis is legal in a few places in Europe, but some differ in how you use it. Smoking it in public might not be legal, but using it in your home could be. Take extra caution with this.
The Netherlands is known for its loose and laid back lifestyle. Go to the capital, Amsterdam, and you’ll see what I mean. Cannabis has been for sale in certain coffee shops since 1976. However, it’s not completely legal. It’s decriminalized for personal use — you can have up to 5 grams, but the police may still confiscate it.
Medicinal cannabis is legal and is available at pharmacies. Recreational use is tolerated and can be bought in licensed coffee shops, but don’t smoke in public. It’s disrespectful to their already lax policies — don’t abuse the system.
So many people are unsure of Germany when it comes to using cannabis. Where Berlin is concerned, it’s easy to assume that everything is legal — but that’s far from the case. You’ll notice a lot of foods sold with a cannabis leaf to advertise the product, but it’s just hemp. Hemp contains less than 0.03 percent of THC, so it’s not going to get you high, meaning that it’s harmless and therefore legal.
The only way that cannabis is legal in Germany is for serious medical conditions. It’s illegal for recreational use, but possession of a ‘minor amount’ — anywhere from six to 15 grams depending on what state you’re in — won’t be prosecuted.
According to the Library of Congress, the German Narcotics Act states that “Prosecutors and courts have discretion to refrain from prosecution or punishment if the suspect cultivates, produces, imports, exports, carries in transit, acquires, otherwise procures, or possesses narcotic drugs merely in small quantities for his or her personal use.”
This is a bit of a tricky one. I have a friend that was caught with a small joint. They had to give their parents address and pay a 200 euro fine. So using cannabis in public is clearly a no-no.
It’s OK to use cannabis in the comfort of your home, but as mentioned above, you will receive a fine for using in public. If you’re caught with the intent to sell, you will receive prison time. There are cannabis social clubs, but it’s best to stay away from them unless you’re local to the area and know what you’re doing.
This one is simple. Cannabis is illegal for recreational use in all cases. However, they are trying to change that.
An interesting thing I found out whilst at a Hemp & CBD expo is that medicinal use is completely legal. A panel of British doctors at the expo explained that doctors can prescribe medical cannabis, regardless of their reluctance.
There was a recent movement to decriminalise cannabis, but it failed. Medical cannabis can only be approved after a lengthy case by the Minister for Health, and under very rare circumstances will it be allowed.
In very small quantities, the Gardai (police) can choose to confiscate the cannabis and take the name of the individual — later appearing in court and in the local newspaper — or make an official arrest. Intent to sell is a serious offense and could result in lengthy prison time.
Intent to sell is worth prison time here, even if it’s in small quantities. It’s decriminalised, but only for religious use below 0.6 percent of THC content.
Medical cannabis is legal, but it’s strictly regulated and licenses are hard to come by.
Again, recreational use is illegal here. If you’re caught with cannabis in public, you could receive a 200 euro fine.
Some cannabinoids are legal for medical use, but not cannabis in its entirety.
Portugal is a special one for history. It became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs back in 2001. There are no criminal punishments for using or possessing drugs. This was in a bid to reduce the number of addicts in the country, which succeeded. Drug use was a huge cause for concern before decriminalisation.
President of Crescer, Américo Nave, told Time; “By giving them syringe kits, some people think that we are enabling them, helping them get their fix. But we do not advocate consumption. We try to talk to them, help them improve their lives. However, if they do not want to stop using, it is better if they do it safely”.
Please note that intent to sell is still illegal — drug dealers go to prison. If you have less than a 10 day supply, you’ll be sent to a local commission to learn about the medical services and treatment options to fight addiction.
Medical use is legal, while recreational use is decriminalised for up to 25 grams.
Do your own Research
It’s obvious that I haven’t included every country in Europe. Some of them are a bit more complicated than others, and I don’t want to say something that isn’t factual.
Even at that, although I’ve done some research into the legalization for each of these countries, certain things could be inaccurate as laws change. I do not advocate the use of cannabis, but I believe in the safety of each person that wishes to travel. It’s so important that you look into the fine details before you decide to use cannabis in a foreign country. What is acceptable in yours may not be in another. Don’t take my research as gospel, and don’t take other peoples ‘experience’ as truth either.