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Is cannabis illegal in UK and where is weed legal to smoke and buy?

  • 28 Dec 2019, 18:30
  • Updated : 20 Apr 2020, 13:39
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MARIJUANA has been illegal in the UK since 1928 – but will laws around the Class B drug be relaxed?

Here’s everything you need to know about drug laws on cannabis as they currently stand.

Is marijuana illegal in the UK?

Cannabis remains illegal to possess, grow, distribute, sell or grow in the UK.

Being caught with cannabis comes with a maximum of five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

While being convicted of producing and supplying the Class B drug carries up to 14 years behind bars, an unlimited fine, or both.

Police can issue a warning or on-the-spot fine if you’re caught with a small amount – generally less than one ounce – if it is deemed for personal use.

Is it illegal to smoke cannabis in your own home?

Like all drugs in Britain, weed is regulated extremely stringently by the Government.

As the punishments suggest, it’s completely illegal to smoke weed anywhere in Britain – including on your own property.

However, some police forces have taken a more laid-back attitude to the recreational drug, which is believed to be the most popular in the UK.

Prosecution rates for cannabis possession are as low as 15 per cent in Cornwall and Devon, while Durham Police have said they will no longer target recreational users at all.

Is medical marijuana legal in the UK?

Medical forms of marijuana are available over the counter or by prescription in the UK – but it is heavily monitored and regulated.

Doctors were given the go-ahead to prescribe cannabis products to patients from November 1, 2018.

The new rules apply to England, Wales and Scotland, Sajid Javid said in a written statement.

It follows several high-profile cases, including young epilepsy sufferers Alfie Dingley and Billy Caldwell, whose conditions appeared to be helped by cannabis oil.

In order for a cannabis product to be considered medicinal it must meet three requirements: it “needs to be a preparation or product which contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medicinal use in humans and; is a medicinal product, or a substance or preparation for use as an ingredient of, or in the production of an ingredient of, a medicinal product”, according to Mr Javid’s statement.

In July 2019, it was ruled that the NHS could prescribe cannabis-based medicine to treat Lennox Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Trials of the drug were carried out at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital on children who were having multiple seizures a day.

Results showed the drug stopped the seizures in many cases and significantly reduced them in others.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency has to be confirmed in two months, but that is expected to be a formality paving the way for the liquid medicine to be available on the NHS later this year for dozens of children affected by the two conditions.

Where is weed legal?

Weed has been decriminalised for personal use in a number of countries, including the Netherlands and Portugal, which decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001.

Canada legalised cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2001. But in October 2018 Canada became the first G7 nation to legalise recreational use of the drug.

In Australia, Puerto Rico, Poland, Czech Republic, Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia it is legal for medicinal purposes.

Some US states have legalised marijuana while others allow it for medicinal use only.

New York state was the latest to decriminalise recreational use in July 2019.

Possession of small amounts of the drug will be punished with fines rather than jail time, a step short of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of legalising pot.

The Liberal Democrats became the first major British political party to support the legalisation of cannabis in March 2016.

How many people in the UK smoke weed?

The use of most drugs has declined in the UK since records began in 1996, according to a 2016 Home Office survey.

It found that cannabis was by some distance the most commonly used drug, with 6.5 per cent of adults aged between 16 and 59 smoking in the previous year.

Weed was also the most popular among those aged between 16 and 24, with 15.8 per cent using it in that same time.

The next popular drug was powdered cocaine.

When did cannabis become illegal in the UK?

Cannabis was banned in 1928.

Its medical use was outlawed in 1971 and growing plants was made illegal in 1964.

Here's everything you need to know about cannabis

All the places in the world you can (legally) smoke weed

Canada just became the second and largest country in the world to legalize weed nationwide. (Uruguay was the first.) Medical marijuana has been lawful in Canada since 2001, but prime minister Justin Trudeau’s successful campaign to open up recreational use is a landmark moment in the legalization movement.

You don’t have to be in Canada to mark the occasion legally. There are places all over the world where marijuana use is not a crime—but laws vary widely on medicinal and recreational use and restrictions on how it can be sold and grown.

Here is an updated version of Quartz’s guide on where in the world you can legally get high:

Where is weed legal in the United States?

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center in 2018, 62% of Americans support marijuana legalization, which is almost double the number of those who supported legalization in 2000. Weed is currently legal in some form in 46 US states, though the majority only allow use for medical purposes.

Recreational use is allowed in Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington state, Washington DC, and Vermont.

Despite the best efforts of US attorney general Jeff Sessions, marijuana legalization in the US has come a long way. Vermont was the first state in the nation to legalize weed legislatively, and those laws came into effect on July 1. Oklahoma also voted to legalize medical marijuana, and a new set of guidelines was approved by the state’s health board in August.

In June, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer unveiled the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would remove weed from the government’s list of controlled substances, and seeks to decriminalize marijuana across the country. And Donald Trump has expressed support for allowing states to regulate marijuana independently. Currently valued at $8 billion, America’s legal marijuana market could be worth as much as $25 billion by 2025.

Weed is legal in Canada

The Cannabis Act makes marijuana sales and consumption, even for recreational use, fully legal.

Regulations vary across Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. For instance, those in Ontario can only purchase weed online via the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store, whereas in Saskatchewan, only licensed private retail stores can sell pot. In Quebec you can smoke anywhere tobacco is allowed. Cannabis consumption in the Yukon territory is only permitted in private residences and adjoining properties.

You can find a comprehensive guide on how to buy and smoke weed in Canada, as well as details on possession limits, here.

Where is weed legal around the world?

Recreational pot use is gaining acceptance around the globe, though there are still relatively few places where it is fully legal:

  • Uruguay became the first country to fully legalize marijuana in 2013 and last year began allowing sales in local pharmacies (though purchase is limited to citizens).
  • In Peru possession of marijuana isn’t punished as long as it’s for personal, private, immediate use. The Peruvian congress has passed a bill that legalized medical marijuana, allowing the production, sale, and importation of cannabis oil.
  • In Spain, citizens aren’t penalized for growing or consuming privately. Sale is technically illegal, but there more than 800 (link in Spanish) “private” cannabis clubs where membership requires nothing more than a bit of paperwork.
  • Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, where authorities will generally turn a blind eye. Selling cannabis is “illegal but not punishable” so officials tolerate it as long as shops follow certain rules, like not advertising or causing a nuisance. Only citizens are allowed to buy marijuana, though Amsterdam’s infamous coffeeshops are exempt from that rule.
  • In September, South Africa‘s constitutional court ruled that weed is legal. People are allowed to use marijuana privately, and can also grow the plant for personal use.

Kindland also has a list of all the places around the world where marijuana is legal or has been decriminalized.

Essential knowledge for the global cannabis connoisseur as Canada becomes the largest country to legalize weed nationwide.