In recent years, the legal framework for the use, possession, cultivation and sale of cannabis has been relaxed in many countries While some countries have completely legalised the use of cannabis for recreational purposes, other countries have only enacted regulations to decriminalise it. Cannabis has also been approved for medical purposes in many countries. Where cannabis has been decriminalised, the use, possession and cultivation are no longer severely punished or tolerated in small quantities, while its sale remains prohibited. However, where cannabis is legalised, the use, possession, cultivation and sale are generally permitted and are subject only to very specific restrictions (e.g., protection of minors).
Cannabis is completely legal in Canada and Uruguay as well as in individual states and overseas territories of the US. In principle, cannabis can be legally sold, possessed, used and cultivated in these countries. However, age limits apply in all cases. Furthermore, Uruguay and Canada have set additional maximum quantity limits for possession, acquisition or cultivation.
Cannabis has been decriminalised in several countries. Currently, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Jamaica have adopted regulations that punish the use, possession and cultivation of cannabis in small quantities as an administrative offence at most.
Furthermore, several countries are currently planning to either fully legalise or at least decriminalise cannabis in the future. For example, efforts are being made to decriminalise cannabis in Italy (the plan is to allow a maximum of 4 plants for personal consumption) and to legalise it in Israel, Mexico and South Africa. Mexico and South Africa represent special cases, as use (Mexico) or possession in private premises (South Africa) has already been recognised as permissible by the constitutional courts; however, there are still no legal regulations at sub-constitutional level in place. Legalisation is planned in Luxembourg, but this is currently delayed.
In addition to the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis for recreational use, cannabis for medical purposes has also been approved in many countries. For example, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Argentina, among others, permit cannabis to be prescribed by physicians. Medical cannabis has also been legal in Germany since 2017. Cultivation and distribution are supervised by the Cannabis Agency established at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), and dispensing takes place via pharmacies.