Legalising marijuana: From medicinal to recreational, here’s how some countries took a liberal stand – Times Now

Medical Cannabis Legalisation

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in many countries across the globe.  | &nbspPhoto Credit:&nbspiStock Images

Key Highlights

  • Uruguay fully legalised the recreational use of marijuana in 2013.
  • Canada legalised recreational use of marijuana in 2018. Medicinal marijuana was legal since 2001.
  • In the United States of Amreica, 22 states have legalised marijuana for medical purposes while 11 states have legalised the recreational use of marijuana.

The arrest of actress Rhea Chakraborty has brought forth the issue of marijuana into the limelight. Rhea was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. 

Rhea Chakraborty has been facing allegations that she gave drugs like marijuana to Sushant Singh Rajput. The entire episode has been widely followed across social media and television and it has once again shifted the focus on the debate on whether marijuana should be legalised in India. 

India has been debating the issue while many around the world have legalised marijuana, especially its use for medical purposes. It is to be noted that not just medical marijuana, a host of countries have even legalised it for recreational purposes as well.

Countries that do not demonise marijuana

There are several countries in the world that have now legalised weed and are earning good revenue from the move. The legalisation of marijuana often comes with conditions on usage and ranges from legalisation for medicinal purposes to recreational use.


In 2013, the South American nation became the first country to fully legalise recreational weed for people 18 years of age and above. The country allowed the sale of marijuana from local pharmacies. However, the purchase was limited to its citizens. Further, the government legalised the cultivation of six plants at people’s homes. While a cooperative of up to 45 members can be able to cultivate up to 99 plants for their own use.


In 2018, the Justin Trudeau government legalised the recreational use of marijuana in Canada. The use of marijuana for medical purposes was lawful in Canada since 2001. The monthly retail sale of recreational marijuana reached nearly $152.1 million in June this year. 

South Africa

The South African constitutional court in September 2018 made marijuana legal. People are now allowed to use marijuana privately. The citizens can also grow marijuana for personal consumption. However, the sale and use of marijuana outside personal space is still prohibited by law. Earlier, the government had opposed legalising it. 

United States

At least 11 states, including Washington DC, have legalised the recreational use of marijuana. These states include Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon and Vermont. The laws about possession, sale and cultivation differ from state to state. Moreover, 22 states in the US have legalised cannabis use for medical purposes. 


In June this year, Ecuador made 127 amendments to its Comprehensive Organic Penal Code (COIP) to make planting, cultivation and production of marijuana legal. The new hemp law has also set the limit for the production of cannabis with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) molecule of less than 1 per cent. In 2013, the government changed the law and legalised the personal use of marijuana up to 10 grams.


Medicinal marijuana is legal in Australia. Moreover, February 24, 2016, the country made amendments to its Narcotic Drugs Act that legalised the growing of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes. Currently, marijuana is decriminalized in Northern Territory and South Australia. Also, marijuana is legal in Australian Capital Territory for personal use but it is illegal to sell it.

Germany, Italy, Finland & Greece

The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in these European countries and the cultivation and distribution of the same is monitored closely. Sale other than for medical uses is prohibited and punishable under the relevant sections of the laws of that country.


One has often come across pictures of people getting high on a joint in a café in Amsterdam. While medical marijuana is legal in the Netherlands, recreational consumption and sale are only allowed in licensed coffeeshops. Moreover, one can own up to five grams of marijuana as this amount is decriminalised. 

Sri Lanka

In this Asian country, marijuana sale is decriminalised for traditional medicine vendors who use it in traditional Ayurvedic medicines. It was legalized by an amendment made in the colonial law by 1980s and through the Ayurveda Act.