19 Countries That Have Legalized Marijuana as of 2024

Written by Rebecca Mathews
Published: February 21, 2024
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Marijuana, cannabis, weed, whatever you call this psychoactive plant, its legality is a tricky subject. It’s often illegal, but some countries take a more liberal view when it comes to recreational weed. Here are 19 countries that have legalized (or decriminalized) recreational marijuana as of 2024.


South American Uruguay was the first country to legalize marijuana.

©iStock.com/Oleksii Liskonih

Uruguay in South America was the first country to legalize adult recreational marijuana use in December 2013. It later legalized sales in July 2017.

Uruguayans can buy up to 10 grams of marijuana per week from a pharmacy, grow up to six plants at home, or even commit to a cannabis-growing club. There are currently 306 marijuana-growing clubs with 10,486 members across Uruguay. Production is curtailed to 480 grams per member. The IRCCA is responsible for monitoring regulations.


The only former Soviet Union country to legalize marijuana is Georgia.


Georgia, in Eastern Europe and Western Asia, legalized possession of marijuana on July 30, 2018, stating in law that it only harmed the user’s health, not the general public, and therefore was not considered a danger. Before this ruling, those caught with marijuana faced 14 years in jail.

That said, Georgia’s recreational use is limited because large-scale cultivation and sale is still illegal, as is smoking cannabis in front of children, in public, or driving under the influence. However, it’s notable as the only former Soviet Union country to legalize cannabis.


world map of north america continent with united states of america, canada and mexico with all border lines

Canada legalized weed in October 2018.

©Libin Jose/Shutterstock.com

Recreational marijuana became legal when Justin Trudeau’s Federal Cannabis Act legalized it in October 2018.

However, it’s still a highly controlled substance only sold at government-licensed retailers. Marijuana packets have no logos or fancy packaging in Canada, just one color and an obvious health warning. Provinces apply their regulations. All except Manitoba and Quebec permit cultivation of four cannabis plants, and First Nation people implement their own laws on protected land.


The Pyramid of the Niches at the EL Tajin archeological site, in Papantla

In 2021, Mexico legalized marijuana consumption.

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Mexico legalized marijuana for recreational use in June 2021. Adults are permitted up to 28 grams of cannabis and may grow six plants at home, but smoking in public or in front of children is still against the law.

Experts weren’t surprised when Mexico legalized marijuana because the government decriminalized personal possession in 2009 with the hope it might lower criminal activity. In 2017, medical marijuana with under 1% Tetrahydrocannabinol TCH (that’s the psychoactive compound) became legal, too.


Luzzu anchored in Malta, at the port of Marsaxlokk

Mediterranean Malta legalized cannabis in 2021.

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Malta, in southern Europe, is an island situated in the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s the smallest member state of the European Union. The government legalized marijuana in 2021, so consumers over the age of 18 can buy, possess and grow marijuana. The Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC) regulates its use.

As of now, adults can possess no more than seven grams of weed and cultivate up to four plants at home. As with other marijuana-legalized countries, it’s illegal to smoke weed in front of children or in public.

Supporters of the 2021 legalization believed legalizing it would help users access cannabis in a safe, regulated way and promote a drop in drug trafficking.


Flag of Thailand

In Southeast Asia, the only marijuana-legal country is Thailand.

©jakapan Chumchuen/Shutterstock.com

Thailand in Southeast Asia legalized marijuana in 2022. Before the bill, possession of cannabis could result in a 15-year prison sentence, and the death penalty awaited drug traffickers.

Thailand is the first Asian country to legalize weed, and since it was enshrined in law, over 1.1 million Thai folks have applied for a growing license. Many marijuana shops line Bangkok’s streets. However, it may not be legal for long. All major political parties’ election campaigns promised to limit marijuana sales to medical use only. A draft bill to make recreational cannabis illegal again is working its way through Parliament just 18 months after it was legalized.


Flag of Luxembourg

In Luxembourg, individuals may possess three grams of marijuana for personal use.

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Luxembourg is in Europe and surrounded by France, Germany, and Belgium. The government legalized recreational marijuana consumption for adults on June 21, 2023, making it the second European country to legalize cannabis, alongside Malta.

Consumers in Luxembourg can possess up to three grams of marijuana and grow up to four plants, but it’s still illegal to smoke, purchase, or transport it. Currently, plans are underway to form state-regulated forms of sale.

The Netherlands

Landscape with tulips, traditional dutch windmills and houses near the canal in Zaanse Schans, Netherlands, Europe

Possessing a small amount of marijuana has been tolerated in The Netherlands since 1976.

©Olena Znak/Shutterstock.com

Possessing marijuana in The Netherlands is illegal, but it’s decriminalized. Licensed coffee shops sell cannabis and soft drugs.

Cannabis cafes in Amsterdam began springing up in the mid-1970s, and they’ve become famous for their marijuana culture ever since. However, it’s not a relaxed policy. Cafes are subject to regular police inspections.


Rastafarians can carry an unlimited amount of marijuana in Jamaica.


Jamaica is known for its weed culture, but it’s actually illegal there and was only decriminalized in 2015.

Rastafarians, who consider marijuana a religious sacrament, can carry an unlimited amount of marijuana for religious purposes, and citizens may grow up to five plants each, but it’s a two-ounce maximum for everyone else, and you can’t smoke in public.


South Andean deer

Chili decriminalized personal possession of marijuana in 2015.


In Chili, the sale, transportation, and public consumption of cannabis is illegal, but personal possession of small amounts is decriminalized. It’s a popular pastime there, with the highest per capita in Latin America.

Decriminalization occurred in 2015 because the government hoped it would reduce trafficking and keep cannabis users safe.


flag of Ecuador

In Ecuador, individuals can possess up to 10 grams of cannabis for personal use.

©Maxim Studio/Shutterstock.com

Up to ten grams of personal marijuana is tolerated in Ecuador. It was decriminalized in 2019, but sale and transportation remain illegal.

No specific laws surround the number of plants an individual may grow, but up to 10 grams of hashish is not considered a crime. 10 grams is a higher amount than many other countries that have decriminalized weed, and that’s because Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution outlines marijuana consumption as a health concern, not a crime.


Colombia decriminalized marijuana in 1994, but it’s still technically illegal.

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Recreational marijuana is illegal in Columbia, but as early as 1994, personal possession was decriminalized.

A recent attempt to push a legal bill through the government failed, leaving over 200,000 cannabis farmers operating outside the law. However, individuals can possess 20 grams of cannabis at home and, since 2015, grow 20 cannabis plants.

South Africa

Close-up of a gold nugget on top of a map of South Africa

Most of South Africa’s marijuana is grown in the dagga belt.


Known as “dagga” in Afrikaans, marijuana is still technically illegal, but the decriminalization of personal use in private occurred in 2018. South Africans may grow marijuana for personal use, and no limits currently exist, but smoking in front of children or in public is prohibited.

Experts believe that marijuana may soon become fully legal in South Africa, not least because its climate and soil are perfectly suited to growing the cannabis plant.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is moving toward marijuana legalization in 2024.

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Recreational marijuana use is illegal in the Czech Republic, but personal use of 10 grams and up to five plants was decriminalized in 2010. In 2024, the Czech Government is pushing through a bill to legalize marijuana to address addiction problems. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) statistics indicate Czechs smoke the most marijuana in Europe.


a chalkboard with the question question falas portuges? do you speak Portuguese? written in Portugese, a pot with pencils, some books and the flag of Portugal, on a wooden desk

South European Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, including marijuana.


Portugal decriminalized personal recreational marijuana use in 2001, but technically, it’s still illegal. Selling, transporting, smoking in front of children, and smoking in public aren’t allowed.

All drugs are decriminalized there to help fight rising HIV infections from infected needles.


Spain flag isolated on the blue sky with clipping path. close up waving flag of Spain. flag symbols of Spain.

Barcelona contains most of Spain’s cannabis smoking clubs.


It’s illegal to sell, buy, import, or publicly consume marijuana in Spain, but adults growing and consuming it in private is legal.

Spain is home to cannabis smoking clubs, most of which are located in the Catalonia region. These private clubs grow cannabis plants for members in exchange for growing costs. However, their legal status is under the microscope.


Flag Argentina of fans. Evening stadium arena Blue

Marijuana laws remain confusing in Argentina, specifically around what constitutes a small amount.

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Despite decriminalizing small amounts of personal marijuana in 2009, some ambiguity still surrounds its legality. The Supreme Court ruled recreational adult use represented private behavior that did not pose danger to others, however, a small amount is not defined. This has led to arrests for small amounts with no clear guidance for judges.

In Argentina, possessing a large amount of cannabis results in up to 16 years in prison for drug smuggling.


A garland of Belize national flags on an abstract blurred background.

Cannabis is illegal in Belize, but personal consumption of 10 grams or less is decriminalized.

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The use of cannabis in Belize is illegal, but in 2017, decriminalization made it possible for adults to consume weed on private property and possess 10 grams or less. However, it’s still illegal to buy or grow marijuana.  

In the 1980s, Belize supplied a lot of cannabis to the United States, but the government clamped down, burning 34 marijuana fields worth $29 million in 2014.

Costa Rica

wild beach of Tortuguero by the Caribbean Sea in Costa Rica, Central America.

Vague Costa Rican laws surrounding marijuana means consuming it there is tricky.


Personal adult consumption of weed is decriminalized in Costa Rica, but it’s technically still illegal. All associated activities, such as selling, buying, and transporting, are criminal offenses.

The laws here are notoriously vague because “small amounts for personal use” are interpreted differently, and no laws exist for plant cultivation.

In 2023, legislators rejected a bill to legalize marijuana so that the law won’t change anytime soon.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Khalid Mahmood, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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About the Author

Rebecca is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on plants and geography. Rebecca has been writing and researching the environment for over 10 years and holds a Master’s Degree from Reading University in Archaeology, which she earned in 2005. A resident of England’s south coast, Rebecca enjoys rehabilitating injured wildlife and visiting Greek islands to support the stray cat population.

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