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Reading time - 7 minutes - January 19, 2022
There are 7 continents on this planet, each with multiple cultures, landscapes and laws. The world is full of beautiful differences, individualities and hundreds of languages. When it comes to Europe, we pride ourselves in variety. One moment you’re in the mountains of Scotland, to the bustling streets of London, to the winding roads of the South of France, to the beaches of the Greek islands. However, is there any consistency? Has Europe decided, together, united as one, to have an open mind to cannabis? Today we’ll be looking into Europe as a whole and aiming our microscope at the countries that have decided to go against the grain, and implement lenient weed laws. Let’s go.
There are 44 countries in Europe: Russia, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, Hungary, Belarus, Austria, Serbia, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Latvia, Montenegro, Luxembourg, Malta, Iceland, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Holy See.
Well that was a mouthful. Every single country on this list has its own separate laws on cannabis. Whilst some of them overlap, others could not be more different. That is why many weed lovers book their flights to cannabis hotspots in Europe in order to feel welcome and accepted. So? What are these hotspots? Well, as you can see, we’ve put the countries in bold that we believe to be worth mentioning today. The world, as a whole, is slowly but surely moving towards global cannabis legalization. However, it’s certain that some countries are much further ahead than others. Let’s take a look into where weed could be legal in Europe.
Cannabis laws in Europe change practically every week. One moment a country can be the least progressive, then suddenly they announce they will have a referendum next year that could legalize cannabis. The countries we’ve decided to include are the ones that, for us, right now, are showing signs of promise – or have been for years. If you feel we’ve missed a major hotspot, please feel free to tweet us about it. We’d love to hear from you.
Luxembourg is a nation that very recently decided to become the first country in Europe to legalize the personal use and growth of recreational cannabis. The Guardian states.
“The announcement on Friday by Luxembourg’s government was said to deliver fundamental changes in the country’s approach to recreational cannabis use and cultivation in light of the failure of prohibition to deter use…Under the legislation, people aged 18 and over will be able to legally grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use”
Citizens will be allowed to grow up to 4 plants at home with the aim of this promoting personal use, rather than exploitation. Having up to 3 grams on you can still warrant a fine, or slap on the rist, but anything under this amount will be considered legal. Soon enough, purchasing cannabis will be as easy as in the Netherlands.
Population: 17 million
Recreational: Decriminalised/ Tolerated
The Netherlands is considered, by some, to be the weed capital of the world. There are over 250 coffeeshops in Amsterdam alone, and in all of these there is a plethora of strains and cannabis products. The world of weed is alive in the Netherlands. However, people forget that recreational cannabis isn’t actually legal. It’s simply decriminalised and tolerated. It’s a matter of semantics but it still is the case. The country has a ‘tolerance policy’, or ‘gedoogbeleid’, which allows for recreational cannabis within most bounds. Essentially, if it’s consumed and bought from specific establishments, they allow it. Or if it’s consumed privately at home. There’s no doubt that Amsterdam has made a name for itself globally for being pro-cannabis, and the country even makes 400 million euros annually from weed tourism. However, according to the law, cannabis is technically not legal.
Population: 83 million
World leaders in Germany look set to legalize cannabis in the next year or so, with rumours that illegal cannabis is being laced with heroin. Although these rumours could be false, it’s definitely helping push the bill forward. Recreational cannabis in Germany is, officially, illegal, however – the authorities can be extremely lenient. As we mentioned in a previous article:
“a person in possession of only “a small amount” of a drug, according to Paragraph 31 of the 1992 reform of the Narcotics Law can avoid prosecution”.
This means that in certain northern areas of Germany, people can get away with possessing up to 6 grams of cannabis. This is the case in Berlin. The government has basically told the authorities to be lenient, without making anything official law. This is, you’d assume, the first step towards legalization.
Population: 47 million
Medical: Legal but limited
Cannabis is decriminalized in Spain for personal use. Spain made it legal to possess and grow a certain amount of plants if done in a ‘private place’. It was this phrasing that led to the influx of cannabis club culture in Spain, and Barcelona specifically. There are around 400 cannabis clubs in Spain. These establishments allow members to come, purchase and consume cannabis within their doors. However, there are very strict and specific rules to follow in order to be allowed to become a member. One of the biggest is that you must not consume the weed outside. Cannabis club culture has been under threat recently for this reason. Spain has taken a huge step towards full cannabis legalization, and they’re on the right track. In fact, they even host Spannabis every year, one of the best cannabis festivals around.
Population: 60 million
Recreational: Illegal/On the edge
In 2019, Italy ruled that cultivation and possession of a small amount of personal cannabis is legal. However, this has yet to become an industry, and people are still not able to grow or consume on a large scale. However, it looks like there might be a referendum in 2022 that will let people vote on full cannabis legalization. Whilst cannabis is strictly regulated, and it’s still unable to be purchased in legal stores, Italy has made a huge effort to highlight their liberal cannabis stance.
Population: 10 million
There is a lot of fake information out there that would claim that Portugal is the new California and that the streets are lined with cannabis stores and THCA products. Unfortunately, this isn’t quite the case yet. Nonetheless, there has been progress that has warranted Portugal be included in this article. Portugal has also decriminalized possession and use of weed – as well as all drugs funnily enough. This means you can’t legally buy it, but you won’t be prosecuted for using it. Again, Portugal is coming on leaps and bounds. Portugal made an attempt to legalize weed in 2013, and it looks like they’re going for a second attempt in 2022. Let’s prey.
In 2021, Malta became the first country in Europe to legalize cannabis. It will now be legal for adults to buy, grow and use cannabis. This is a huge moment for the future of cannabis legalization in Europe. Malta may be a small country, but it’s taken a big step.
You might be sat there thinking: why isn’t the UK included? And no, it isn’t because we aren’t part of the EU. This article was about the continent of Europe, not the European union. However, in the grand scheme of things, the UK is not leading the charge for cannabis legalization. If anything, the UK is being unwillingly pulled along by the more progressive countries that have been mentioned in this article. There’s no doubt that the UK has made progressive, but it’s simply too slow to be warranted a mention. If you want to know more about the UK’s cannabis policies, click here.
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