Is Marijuana Legal in Europe? Breakdown By Country
Published on 7/16/20
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
While legal cannabis has been rapidly expanded here in the states, with 18 states legalizing recreational and 37 states and U.S. territories forming some type of medical program, program has been a little bit slower in some other parts of the world. One of the key places where cannabis legalization has slightly stalled is in mainland Europe. So that naturally raises the question. Where is weed legal in Europe?
Unfortunately, while there are some countries with relaxed marijuana laws in mainland Europe, there are currently very few countries where pot is fully legal. At time of writing only a handful of nations, like Malta and Germany for example, have made moves to actually legally legalize. Most places in Europe just opt to largely decriminalize cannabis, which effective makes its use commonplace and legal. That means that even if you are technically breaking the law by using cannabis in those decriminalize nations, no one will care or bother you about it.
So with all of that in mind, we here at Where's Weed wanted to create a comprehensive guide for where you can spark up the next time you're in Europe. This list is going to give you a few places on the European continent where smoking pot is commonplace and effectively illegal, breaking down and naming countries where weed is legal in the process. Think of this article as your one-stop-shop for knowledge, a resource on where it's best to get some cannabis on your next European vacation. So without further ado, let's get right into it!
Let's begin with one of the smaller nations in Europe, one that many might overlook while scanning a European map. Yes, that's right, little Luxembourg holds the honor of being the first European nation to legalize growing and using cannabis back in 2021! The tiny alpine gem of a nation legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 2018 and legislation to enshrine recreational cannabis and homegrowing was soon to follow in 2021. Under the new legislation anyone over the age of 18 can legally grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use and possession of up to 3 grams of cannabis is largely decriminalized aside from some minor fines for public consumption. There might be restrictions on tourist purchasing but the ubiquity of the herb should make what is already an accommodating cannabis culture more than adequate for those visiting from abroad. Quality weed (usually from the Netherlands) can be easily and safely procured at various locations around Luxembourg City Center.
Recreational: Legal, aside from a small fine for public use.
We have one word for you here that, if you're a true cannabis aficionado, should spark joy and put a twinkle in your eye just from reading it. Amsterdam. Just the name of the city brings a twinkle to the eye of even the most seasoned stoner. The iconic coffeeshops of this gorgeous historic city are legendary and known around the world. So much so, in fact, that the local government is considering preventing tourists from entering cannabis shops to keep the party from getting out of hand. The city has been overwhelmed with tourists of all stripes over the last 20 years and residents are concerned that the soul of their town is being lost. For now, however, the coffee shops are open for all to enjoy. But the Netherlands is not just Amsterdam. There are plenty of other beautiful cities and towns to enjoy and most will have at least one coffee shop where you can consult the menu and chose the strain of your desire.
Recreational: Illegal but decriminalized since 1976 with recreational use highly tolerated
The cannabis scene in Spain is unique. The country does not distinguish between recreational and medical cannabis use and while both remain technically illegal, medical and recreational use in private areas was decriminalized in 2015. That legal grey area has led to the rise of so-called "cannabis clubs" in Spain, which is far and away the simplest, safest, and easiest way to procure some bud in Spain. These cannabis clubs are most prevalent in the regions of Catalonia (Barcelona), Navarra (Pamplona), and the Basque Country (San Sebastian, Bilbao). The clubs are private collectives and cooperatives that are allowed to operate in a non-profit manner, which means that that nation has effectively legalized personal use in private settings, like in a home. They are technically illegal for tourists to patronize but can be accessed without too much difficulty. An ID, an address (a hostel or hotel is fine), and a small "membership" fee are all that are normally required to get your hands on some cannabis. Some of the clubs can be seedy and only have low-grade marijuana, so take your time and find one (there are plenty) with a comfortable atmosphere and top-shelf product. The sentiment in Spain leans toward tolerance of cannabis use and it will hopefully be one of the first handful of European countries where weed is legal.
Recreational: Illegal but decriminalized and highly tolerated in privately-owned spaces
Medical: Illegal but decriminalized and highly tolerated
Enforcement: Yes, but only in public areas.
The mellow and laid-back Czech people are some of the top cannabis consumers on the continent. Cannabis in the Czech Republic remains technically illegal for recreational use, but personal possession (no more than 10 grams) has been decriminalized since 2010 and medical cannabis use is on the rise since it became legal in 2013. The scene in Prague and other Czech cities is similar to other countries where marijuana use is not seen as any big deal by the authorities. If you are smart and don't flaunt it, you'll be fine. The best place to procure in Prague is at bars and clubs where there is often a dealer on the premises. Avoid purchasing on the street where swindlers prey on naive tourists.
Recreational: Illegal but decriminalized and highly tolerated.
The Netherlands' neighbor to the south has a cannabis culture that is tolerant but subdued. While it's still technically illegal to sell or possess cannabis in Belgium, personal use was decriminalized all the way back in 2003. Medical use is perfectly legal but rarely utilized by physicians. Belgium's proximity to the Netherlands and the open border between the two (within the E.U.) ensures a steady supply of quality cannabis. In larger cities in Belgium like Brussels and Antwerp, open smoking in public squares and parks is not uncommon.
Recreational: Illegal but decriminalized and highly tolerated.
Weed in Other European Countries
So there you have it. A comprehensive list of some of the best places to enjoy cannabis in Europe. While progress when it comes to legalization and decriminalization is slowly creeping in the right direction, Europe still has a long way to go before cannabis is seen as commonplace and widely legal. You can tell that just by gazing at a map of some of the biggest and most populated places on the European continent.
What about some of the larger and most visited countries for people on holiday who might want to get high? Is weed legal in France? Alas, no. But, things do seem to be improving as the government slowly moves to decriminalize and reduce fines and jail sentences. Is weed legal in England or is weed legal in the UK? Again, no. Even though marijuana use is popular and on the rise in England and the rest of the United Kingdom, the current administrations remain intolerant of any recreational marijuana use.
Similar to the situation in the states in the U.S. where marijuana use remains forbidden and heavily policed, across Europe marijuana can still be found and consumed if you know where to look. Here is a list of the countries where cannabis use in any manner is illegal and enforced and should probably be avoided if you are intent of hitting the weed hard on your holiday: Albania, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, United Kingdom.
Have you traveled to Europe recently and purchased or used cannabis? Where were you? How did you get your weed? Let us know in the comment section below.