Legalize Cannabis: Cannabis Legislation on a Global Scale

Soft Secrets
26 May 2020

As cannabis legislation has been promulgated worldwide, countries face issues with regulatory systems to legalize cannabis. 

As cannabis legislation has been promulgated worldwide, countries face issues with regulatory systems to legalize cannabis.  Although the overarching effects of cannabis have been benefiting users both medically and recreationally, there are critical limitations of cannabis studies evaluating the effects of decriminalization. Many countries and state governments have set rules and regulations preceding who should be eligible for medical marijuana use. The diversity of population groups, however, is one primary concern for governments to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Extensive studies across the world have been bringing about many marijuana innovations or the development of new strains and forms. Because of this, progressive marijuana policies are increasingly motivating countries to legalize cannabis for its widespread medical and recreational benefits. Meanwhile, we are also witnesses to how legalizing marijuana can actually decrease crime rates.  Here's a snapshot of what policies countries across the world are implementing in efforts to step up and legalize cannabis. 

Legalize Cannabis: Cannabis Legislation by Countries

United States

A Gallup poll from 2019 shows that 86% of surveyed Americans support cannabis legislation due to its medical benefits. Some US states already enjoy the benefits of medical cannabis, and state laws on recreational use are also taking momentum. Although the federal law has been consistent in the illegal status of cannabis, for the most part, experimentation with marijuana liberalization and decriminalization policies are becoming more progressive. The United States has traditionally been against cannabis legislation. The Marihuana Tax Act as of 1937 enabled this stance by making marijuana possession and transfer between states illegal under federal law. But as patient medical access laws have been evolving for the past five decades, states are experimenting with the legalization of recreational markets. What’s more, it’s interesting to note that among the public marijuana is currently seen as an essential. A YouGov poll results published in April, found out that just over half (53%) of Americans out of 5,000 who participated in the poll, believed that medical marijuana dispensaries should be considered essential services as the outbreak of Covid-19 pushed all businesses to close down except essentials. Cannabis products have been selling increasingly since the start of the health crisis. All of which makes a fertile ground for further and positive changes in legislation.


Uruguay was the first country in the world to completely legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use in 2013, when they took the unprecedented steps to be the first in the world to legalize cannabis and regulate it for recreational use. The law allowed Uruguayans to be able to purchase up to 40 grams a month from pharmacies. This South American country also legalized homegrowing up to six plants in 2014. As cannabis business owners claim it to be a booming business, it is hardly a pothead free-for-all in Uruguay. Marijuana is only available to citizens and foreign residents of the country. Non-medical users must register to buy it. According to government regulators, only slightly more than 45,000 of Uruguay's 3.5 million people have registered. As recreational cannabis sales haven't been bringing in significant profits for the companies involved, Uruguayan companies that produce medical cannabis like Fotmer, are aiming to help shape a rapidly growing global industry.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has some of the most cannabis consumers in Europe, according to a 2014 European Drug Report. They have been on a path to significant cannabis reform since 1993 and have legalized medicinal marijuana in 2013. However, an estimated 20 thousand patients who are eligible for cannabis treatment still notoriously find it hard to access cannabis even with proper credentials. Some advocates and testimonies prove the relief marijuana gives patients from debilitating symptoms of illnesses, such as multiple sclerosis and cancer, where more conventional medical treatments fail. Despite the Czech Republic's efforts to legalize cannabis, patients and medical experts have been blaming the Health Ministry for deliberately blocking access to marijuana even for medical reasons. The ministry has been known to have vehemently opposed the legalization of cannabis.


The honey pots doors in Canada never seem to sufficiently close as steady streams of customers flow in and out of some of the country's busiest marijuana dispensaries. Cannabis legislation has been embraced.  Medical marijuana has been widely available in Canada and is seen as a respected medication since it became the second country to legalize marijuana back in 2018. However, there was as much uncertainty as excitement when it finally became legal to buy marijuana in Canada. Supply issues were dominating headlines for much of the year. One year of legalized marijuana did not change Canadians anyways. Pre-legalization, 16% of Canadians smoked pot, and the figures remained just about the same a year later, although usage rates are going up in provinces with more access to dispensaries.


Ecuador's pre-existing law on cannabis granted personal usage and people to carry up to 10 grams. However, Ecuador's comprehensive criminal law also indicates that they are not technically inclined to legalize cannabis for activities, such as cultivating or selling. According to the Ecuadorian Medical Federation, the use of marijuana is beneficial as a painkiller for countless illnesses that are incurable like cancer, especially patients who are in terminal stages of this disease. Cannabis derivatives are being used to relieve pain that can no longer be treated with morphine. Ecuadorian Medical Federation adds that extensive studies of cannabis and all further derivatives should be done locally to see what diseases they are going to use marijuana for and must be within a private medical prescription to serve the secondary rule.

The Netherlands

Amsterdam city is well known for its bicycles, idyllic canals, and hash coffee. Unlike any other EU country, recreational cannabis in the Netherlands is tolerated. You can find cannabis in almost any corner in Amsterdam, although it’s less convenient to do so in other cities. Cannabis shops may have permits to sell in small amounts, but cannot grow it or store more than 500 grams onsite, nor can they promote it. Policies regarding cannabis production or sale are still harsh as the police are very much clamping down on any manufacturing or transaction, making it more difficult to access.


Among the newest European countries to legalize cannabis, Germany is one to have had a unanimous vote to legalize cannabis and has become a world leader on marijuana. The German Parliament legalized the production, sale, and use of medical marijuana. Started back in March of 2017, doctors have been able to prescribe cannabis-based medicine to treat severe medical conditions. But unlike the Netherlands, where individuals are allowed to smoke up at home or in licensed cannabis clubs or even on streets, recreational use remains illegal. Other European countries such as Romania, France, Italy, N. Macedonia, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Slovenia, and Turkey have joined in efforts to legalize cannabis such as easing access to cannabis oil for medical purposes, although there's much more progress to be made in terms of law promotion as well as for optimizing the costs. In some of these countries, purchasing cannabis oil from normal pharmacies can cost a fortune. As more countries contemplate legalizing cannabis, many are closely watching for states with legalized cannabis for their successes and failures. And while there is a widespread belief that marijuana is mostly beneficial, there is also a lack of scientific knowledge on its wholesome effects. Some may believe that legalizing marijuana could help to further our understanding of what it can do; however, scientific evidence of the impact of these policies is mostly found to be inconclusive.

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