Business Cannabis Global / Local Regulations

Where is Cannabis Legal in Europe?

cannabis legal europe
Written by Joseph Mcqueen

Europe is a huge continent with over 40 countries included. Therefore, it is often hard to generalize when it comes to their view on cannabis laws. Each nation has its own opinion and this can differ drastically from one country to another. We’re going to be delving into every European country and displaying their summarized laws on weed. Let’s go. 

Albania 

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Due to the Law of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances that was made in 1994, cannabis is firmly included on the list of illegal substances. Therefore, cultivation, possession, production and essentially anything involving weed is illegal. This includes even the medical use of the substance. In July of this year, Albania drafted their first cannabis law to attempt to legalize it for medicinal purposes but it faced opposition. 

Andora

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Cannabis both medically and recreationally is strictly illegal in Andorra. You can face up to two years in prison for the trafficking of the substance, and individual use can also leave you with a large fine of up to 600 euros and an arrest. The only hope is that it borders Spain, where there are far more liberal views on cannabis. 

Austria

Medical: No

Recreational: Decriminalised

In Austria, it is illegal to consume, buy, sell or grow the plant. They also still do not have a medical cannabis market. However, in 2016, the personal use of it was essentially decriminalized. 30-40% of the nation’s young people, aged 15-24, enjoy hash and cannabis.  

Belarus 

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Belarus is very strict when it comes to cannabis laws. It is illegal in every way you look at it, even the industrial use of hemp.  

Belgium

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalised 

Belgium is definitely in the higher end of Europe when it comes to acceptance of cannabis. Medical cannabis exists, although it’s limited to only Sativex products. Plus, whilst recreational weed is illegal in Belgium, possession of under 3 grams by a person of age is decriminalized. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Similar to Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina have banned cannabis both medically and recreationally and do not look to be changing that any time soon. 

Bulgaria

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Medical and recreational cannabis is illegal in Bulgaria. However, farmers can grow industrial hemp with a permit, so at least that’s something. Plus, in 2019, Bulgaria was the first EU country to legalize the selling of CBD products. As one of the EU’s poorest members, many believe that legalizing THC could benefit their economy. 

Croatia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalised 

In 2015, Croatia legalised the use of medical cannabis. Plus, the personal use of the substance is also only considered a misdemeanour and not a crime, meaning at worst you’ll face a fine. They are not quite at the stage of having a recreational cannabis market yet, but perhaps this could change. 

Cyprus

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

As of 2019, Cyprus legalized the use and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes. However, the use of the substance for recreational purposes is dealt with heavily by authorities. 

Czech Republic

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

As of 2010, the Czech Republic decriminalized the use of the possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use. You do need a license to grow it. Medical usage was also legalized in 2013 for certain conditions. 

Denmark

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Denmark is considered one of the most liberal nations in the world, but how do they fair when it comes to cannabis? Denmark legalized medical cannabis in 2018, but the access to it remains limited and only certain products like Sativex are available. The substance remains illegal but they are lenient with small amounts for personal use. 

Estonia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Estonia is another example of a nation that legalized medical cannabis a while ago, but have yet to really do anything about it. You can expect leniency if you’re found with a small amount of weed but, overall, it’s illegal.


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Finland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Since 1972 it has been illegal to use cannabis recreationally and that has not changed since. However, as is the case with many nations in Europe, a small amount will probably be given only a small fine. Medical cannabis is also legal, but the industry is far from booming, with only around 250 people actually having access to it. 

France

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

It is illegal to produce, import and sell recreational cannabis in France. In January 2022 the government dismissed a drafted law that tried to legalize it. In fact, it is believed that France has some of the harshest drug laws in Europe. As you can predict, even the medical weed is limited and hard to access. 

Germany

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Almost

Germany has recently laid out plans to legalize cannabis for recreational use. This would make it one of the first and largest countries in Europe to do so. As of yet, there is no exact date that this could happen. Medical cannabis has also been accessible since 2017.

Greece

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Greece has legalized medical cannabis but the industry has not yet gotten off the ground. In regards to recreational use, it is completely and firmly illegal. A small amount won’t amount to a criminal record. 

Hungary

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Hungary supposedly treats cannabis use with the same amount of seriousness as heroin. The use of the substance is illegal both medically and recreationally. 

Iceland

Medical: No

Recreational: No

The best cannabis product you’re going to get in Iceland is maybe some CBD and prescribed Sativex. Other than that, it is completely illegal. 

Ireland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Medical cannabis and CBD in Ireland has been legal since 2019, however it requires approval by the Minister for Health. Recreational weed is completely illegal.

Italy

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Recreational cannabis is illegal in Italy, however some cannabis-lite products are available for purchase in smart shops with very small amounts of THC. Medical cannabis is, yet again, legal but strictly regulated.

Kosovo

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Kosovo is another strict nation, no use of cannabis is legal here. However, yet again, people are suggesting it be a good idea for their economy to create a legal weed market. 

Latvia

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Latvia has banned all use of cannabis except hemp production, but if you’re found with a gram or so then you can expect only a fine. 

Liechtenstein

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Liechtenstein does not even have Sativex available for medical use, the nation has made weed illegal in all ways. 

Lithuania

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Since 2018, medical cannabis has been legal in Lithuania, but the industry is limited and hardly accessible. You can expect a small fine if found with limited cannabis in this country but larger amounts will be an issue.

Luxembourg 

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Yes

In 2021, Luxembourg shocked the world by becoming the first country in Europe to legalize growing and using a limited amount of cannabis for personal use. However, it’s now being revealed that – without a cannabis market being created – it feels more like decriminalization than actual legalization. Nonetheless, it has paved the way for the rest of the continent. 

Malta

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Yes

Malta is the most progressive nation in Europe when it comes to cannabis. Both medical and recreational use is legal and has been since 2021. However, as of yet, there has been limited news on how this change of law has been actioned. 

Moldova

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalised

Medical cannabis in Moldova is legal but limited. Recreational weed is illegal but decriminalized – in essence, simple drug use is not a crime. 

Monaco

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Tax avoidance may be legal in Monaco, but cannabis most certainly is not. 

Montenegro

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Montenegro is far from legalizing cannabis in any way. In 2014 a political party attempted to present a bill but it was instantly rejected.

The Netherlands

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

The Netherlands have the most successful recreational cannabis market in Europe, with hundreds of thousands of tourists coming to Amsterdam to enjoy their coffeeshops. However, the actual use of cannabis is still technically not legal, it is just completely decriminalized. 

North Macedonia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

Medical cannabis is legal but limited in North Macedonia, and products containing 0.2% THC or less are also available. There is no likelihood that their stance on recreational weed changes any time soon. 

Norway

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Norway only allows for the medical use of the cannabis plant and nothing else. However, they are lenient to small amounts for personal use, probably only resulting in a fine. 

Poland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

As of yet, hemp cultivation and a 2017 medical cannabis program is all that Poland currently has. Yet again, small amounts will be dealt with leniently. 

Portugal

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

In Portugal it is possible to access medical cannabis if other methods have proven to fail for your specific condition. The use of small amounts of cannabis will not give you jail time but may result in a fine. 

Romania

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

In 2019, Romania stated that they are looking to make their medical cannabis more accessible. Whilst recreational cannabis is illegal, they do not deal with the substance strictly due to it not being a high-risk drug. 

Russia

Medical: No

Recreational: Decriminalised

Russia has made possession of up to 6 grams a smaller crime, and therefore will result only in a fine. However, there is still a long way to go for the country, without even a medical cannabis market. 

San Marino

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

In 2019, San Marino came close to legalizing recreational cannabis after a citizen’s initiative but backtracked at the last minute, stating they would rather wait for Italy to do it first. Limited medical cannabis is also available. 

Serbia

Medical: No

Recreational: No

Serbia is another strict nation when it comes to cannabis.

Slovakia

Medical: No

Recreational: No

The best you will find in Slovakia is prescribed Sativex and some CBD products, the rest is completely illegal. 

Slovenia

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

Medical cannabis and CBD products are legal in Slovenia, but not always easy to access. There is also quite a lenient approach to small amounts of the illegal use of the substance. In fact, there’s even a secret cannabis bar in the capital Ljubljana. 

Spain

Medical: Decriminalized 

Recreational: Decriminalized 

Spain has their own underground coffeeshop market, with cannabis cafes that require membership to smoke in them. You are also able to indirectly purchase cannabis here. However, their medical weed market is basically non-existent and the drug is completely illegal when used in public.

Sweden

Medical: Yes

Recreational: No

You would expect more from Sweden, but their medical cannabis industry is highly limited and seems to have no future for recreational weed legalization.

Switzerland

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

If you’re found with less than 10 grams of cannabis then you can expect a lenient fine in Switzerland. They are also currently in the process of improving their medical cannabis industry. 

Ukraine

Medical: No

Recreational: Decriminalised

Whilst both medical and recreational cannabis use is illegal in Ukraine, technically possession of small amounts is only a petite offence. The president is also a fan of legalizing medical cannabis, so perhaps when the war is over this could be his next move. 

United Kingdom

Medical: Yes

Recreational: Decriminalized

The United Kingdom is working on improving their medical cannabis industry, which began in 2018. In fact, the UK is the biggest exporter of medical cannabis in the world, and yet a limited amount of their population actually have any access to it. Small amounts of weed are often ignored in the nation but it is unlikely that the UK will legalize recreational cannabis until other major players in Europe do it first.

Conclusion

Europe has definitely been slower in accepting cannabis than other places, especially North America. However, it is the smaller nations that have been the heroes of the story, with Luxembourg and Malta paving the way. But now with Germany looking imminent to legalizing cannabis, this could completely change the way the rest of Europe sees the substance. 

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About the author

Joseph Mcqueen

Joseph is a cannabis journalist in the UK. His search and love for the truth in the cannabis industry is what drives him to write.

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