Legalised pot spots: A rarity around the world

2018-09-19 10:10

A ruling by the Constitutional Court on Tuesday legalising the private use of dagga puts the nation on course to become one of only a few to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes.

The Constitutional Court has ordered Parliament to draft new laws within 24 months to reflect its decision.

READ: ConCourt rules that personal use of dagga is not a criminal offence

While many countries have decriminalised the use and possession of dagga, abandoning prison sentences for consumers, only a handful have gone as far as to make it fully legal, including for medicinal purposes.

Here is an overview.

Latin America:

Uruguay in 2013 became the first country in the world to legalise the production, distribution and consumption of dagga.

READ: Celebrations after the private use of dagga is legalised

Under Uruguayan law, citizens and residents can buy up to 40g of pot a month from pharmacies, grow it themselves at home, or join cannabis clubs where members tend to the plants together.

The government has licensed two private companies to produce and distribute dagga.

Several other Latin American countries have legalised dagga for medicinal use: Chile in 2015, Colombia in 2016 and Argentina, Mexico and Peru in 2017.


The Netherlands in general, and Amsterdam in particular, have tolerated the sale and use of dagga in iconic coffee shops since 1976.

READ: Parliament will consider 'introducing a new bill' following dagga ruling

That year the Dutch decriminalised the sale of small amounts of dagga - less than 5g - and allowed individuals to legally grow five plants each for personal use.

Dutch coffee shops generate hundreds of millions of euros in sales annually, and in major hubs such as Amsterdam they have proven a major tourist draw.

In recent years, however, politicians have pushed back against these tolerant policies.

A controversial 2012 law bans the sale of dagga to non-residents and tourists in three southern provinces.

The capital The Hague banned dagga from the city centre in April this year.

READ: Dagga ruling a joint victory - now to hash out the details

But in July the Dutch government gave the green light to a wide-ranging experiment to allow up to 10 municipalities around the country to legally grow dagga.

Spanish law allows for the private production and consumption of dagga by adults, though its sale is still illegal.

The Czech Republic imposes only fines on people in possession of up to 15g of dagga or who have only five plants at home.

In July 2018 the Constitutional Court in Georgia abolished fines for using dagga but stipulated that growing and selling it would remain an offence.

Several other European countries have legalised dagga for certain medical purposes including Austria, Britain, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

The French government has announced plans to soften penalties for dagga use, swapping potential prison sentences for on-the-spot fines, but it remains opposed to legalising the substance.

North America:

US federal law prohibits the cultivation, sale and use of dagga.

However eight states and the national capital Washington have legalised dagga for recreational use, with the last to date, California, becoming on January 1, 2018, the biggest legal market in the world.

Twenty-nine states and the capital have legalised dagga for medical use.

Canada will on October 17 become the first Group of Seven (G7) member and second country in the world to allow the recreational consumption of dagga.

The legislation will limit personal possession to 30g and four plants per household.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    judiciary  |  dagga

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.