Compiling this report has been an effort of:
- 100+ hours of reading,
- 50+ hours of extracting the crucial information,
- 25+ hours of fact-checking, and
- 15+ hours of writing.
It’s been exhausting and rewarding to the fullest.
With this report, my intention is to summarise the state of cannabis legislation in the leading nations of the world.
I’ve structured this report to achieve the following goals:
- Allow you to compare nations based on specific aspects of cannabis legislation
- Allow you to understand an overview for each country, within 5 minutes reading
- Point you to original legal material rather than re-working it myself (and risking the loss of nuance)
5 Things I Wish To Declare
- Instead of re-working legislative commentary and legal language, I’ve included original sources.
- For every country, I’ve summarised the medical, recreational, industrial aspects of cannabis use.
- Countries differ in what they treat as non-psychotropic or non-narcotic cannabis, (based on limits of THC content). I’ve included this crucial detail in my comments.
- I’ve relied heavily on the two industry reports included in the sources. Both of these reports, however, are from 2020-21. In only one year from then, the global cannabis legislation has evolved significantly. My report captures these changes.
- You’ll need to understand the differences between terms such as illegal, decriminalised, and restricted.
- Illegal: categorically declared an act of civil or criminal offence in law.
- Decriminalised: struck down from a law that previously made an act an offence.
- Restricted: allowed by law but with restrictions.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in California, USA
The legal landscape for cannabis in the USA is as liberal as it is complicated. While federal law declares cannabis as a Schedule I drug, several states have legalized its medical and recreational use.
The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prohibits the federal prosecution of individuals who comply with state cannabis laws. This means state laws take precedence over federal laws.
In California, medical cannabis has been legal since 1996. Recreational use was legalized in 2016. The state has been at the forefront in liberalizing cannabis policy and legislation. Understanding the trends in California may help readers anticipate the direction for many other states in the USA.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In California
In the USA, medical use of cannabis is allowed in 36 states.
In California, medical users are allowed to grow cannabis for personal use, without limits. Non-medical users are allowed a limit of six plants per household.
Medical users are exempt from the payment of certain taxes when they purchase cannabis and derivative products.
Medical cannabis may be purchased only from licensed retail stores.
Recreational use of cannabis is legalized in 18 USA states. Further, 13 states have decriminalized the recreational use of cannabis.
On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64 – the Adult Use of Marijuana Act was passed and legalized recreational cannabis for adults over 21 years of age in California. Such adults are allowed to possess, process, transport, obtain, purchase, smoke, ingest, or give away without compensation, up to one ounce of dry cannabis (or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis) to adults of 21 years of age, or over.
Industrial use of cannabis in California is widespread. The production and sale of edibles, vapor oils, flowers are allowed. The 2018 Farm Bill made CBD products legal in the USA (with a THC concentration of less than 0.2%). The FDA, however, didn’t grant blanket approval to all food items containing CBD. Such products remain vulnerable to scrutiny by the FDA, and the same situation prevails in California.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In California
Business & Professions Code
Health & Safety Code
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in California
Bureau of Cannabis Control
California Department of Food and Agriculture
California Department of Public Health
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in California
Growing, possessing, and retailing cannabis, as well as industrial hemp, are allowed in California. Growers and suppliers need to register and apply for permits in California.
Cannabis import and export provisions in California
The export of cannabis across California’s state borders is prohibited. Hemp, however, is not subject to these restrictions.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in California
Black marketing of cannabis is the biggest problem in California. This means that buyers can pay a fraction of the cost they’d pay at the licensed retail store. For the enforcement authorities, this is a challenge. Raids and confiscations of property linked to unlicensed growth and sale of cannabis are common in California.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Canada
The use of cannabis is completely legal in Canada.
Prohibition on the medical use of cannabis was lifted on 30th July 2001.
Any restrictions that existed on recreational use were removed by the federal Cannabis Act, which came into effect on 17th October 2018.
This made Canada the second nation in the world to completely decriminalize the possession and consumption of cannabis. There are no legal hurdles to growing cannabis and trading in derived products.
The cannabis industry stood at 2.6 billion CAD in 2020 and is poised to grow to 8.6 billion CAD by 2026.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Canada
Patients can access cannabis by:
- Purchasing from licensed sellers who are authorized by the federal government.
- Becoming registered producers with a permit to grow small quantities.
- Having someone else cultivate for them.
- Buying from retail outlets and online platforms, subject to territorial laws.
Possession is limited to 150 grams or a month’s prescription, whichever is lower.
Though the Cannabis Act has decriminalized the use and possession of cannabis. Rules vary among provinces.
In Alberta, the minimum age for use is 18 while in Quebec it is 21.
The Cannabis Act allows each household to grow four cannabis plants but Quebec does not allow it.
Manitoba allows it to those with a medical license.
Manitoba, New Brunswick, and many other provinces have no restriction on the amount that can be stored at home, but British Columbia caps it at 1000 grams and Nunavut at a mere 150 grams.
The Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR) provides the legal framework for the cultivation of industrial hemp. According to its definition, to be considered as industrial hemp, a cannabis plant or any part of it cannot contain more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol.
About 50,000 acres are currently under hemp cultivation in Canada.
Alberta leads, followed by Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Canada
- The Cannabis Act, 2018
- Industrial Hemp Regulations, 2018
- Cannabis Exemption (Food and Drugs Act) Regulations, 2016
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Canada
Specialized bodies e.g. British Columbia Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Secretariat and Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission.
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Canada
With a license from Health Canada, the following are permitted:
- Sale for medical and non-medical purposes
- Manufacture of cannabis edibles and beverages
Cannabis import and export provisions in Canada
The Cannabis Act bars the import and export of cannabis other than industrial hemp. Of course, transactions for scientific reasons are not prohibited.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Canada
- Enforcement of rules as regards sale to underaged persons
- Access to capital for farming and extraction of cannabis
- Development of distribution channels for quick offtake
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Mexico
In 2021, the Supreme Court of Mexico ruled the ban on recreational use of cannabis unconstitutional.
Medical and scientific-research use of cannabis is allowed in Mexico.
Industrial progress remains stunted because of gaps in legislation.
Mexico’s Marijuana Legalization Bill is currently (Dec 2021) in the draft stage. If passed, this bill will eliminate the major blockages in the industrial arteries of the nation.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Mexico
In January 2021, the Ministry of Health issues the Rules for Medical Cannabis.
Cannabis’s growth, import/export, prescription, and use are legal for medical purposes and scientific research.
The General Health Law doesn’t mention CBD, though Rules for Medical Cannabis acknowledges it as a cannabinoid devoid of psychotropic properties, which legalizes its use in medicines.
Medicines based on cannabis have to seek authorization from COFEPRIS (Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk) for clinical trials, pre-market approvals, imports, and exports.
The Ministry of Agriculture grants permits for the growth of cannabis.
Medical health professionals may also advertise medicines based on cannabis.
Public opinion, and as a consequence, the legal environment in Mexico, has become amenable for the recreational use of cannabis.
USA’s liberal position on recreational cannabis is also a contributor.
In 2021, Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the ban on the recreational use of cannabis unconstitutional.
Personal possession and transport of cannabis are restricted to 5 grams per person (may be increased to 28 grams under the proposed Marijuana Legalization Bill).
Growing cannabis for personal use may be allowed by the National Commission for Addictions for up to 6 plants for personal use, and 8 plants for households where 2 or more adults live.
Growing cannabis for commercial sale is also licensed by the National Commission for Addictions.
As per Mexican General Health Law, products with less than 1% THC concentration may be commercialized if they have widespread industrial use. The export and import are also allowed, subject to fulfillment of conditions.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Mexico
General Health Law
Rules of Medical Cannabis
Marijuana Legalization Bill
Cannabis General Law
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Mexico
COFEPRIS (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios)
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Agriculture
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Mexico
- Medical use of cannabis (growth, harvesting, commercialization) is allowed in Mexico.
- Recreational use has been legalized.
- Growing cannabis for personal recreational use and commercialization for such a person is restricted.
- Industrial use of CBD is allowed.
- Recreational use of CBD is also allowed.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Mexico
Mexico’s law allows the import and export of medical cannabis, that is, cannabis intended for medical use. COFEPRIS issues the relevant licenses.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Mexico
The seeding, growth, possession, and commercialization of cannabis for commercial use are still heavily restricted and criminalized beyond a limited scale. Thus, the acquisition of raw materials for the manufacture of CBD-based products (dietary supplements, cosmetics, foods) is a challenge. There is no legal way to do this at scale.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Brazil
Cannabis has been, and continues to be illegal and criminalized in Brazil, barring certain conditions wherein individuals are authorized to perform specific functions pertaining to growth, cultivation, and import of cannabis (or cannabis-based products).
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Brazil
Brazilian Federal Law allows authorized persons to import, manufacture, and sell cannabis-based medicines.
Previously, the controls were tighter, and the manufacture of such medicines was not allowed in Brazil.
Manufacturers are required to procure a Certificate of Good Manufacturing Practice from the Brazilian National Agency for Sanitary Surveillance (ANVISA).
Among other authorizations necessary for manufacturers are operating permits, special authorization, and technical documentation about product quality.
ANVISA can authorize manufacturers to sell their cannabis-based medicines throughout the country.
Individuals need a medical prescription to be able to purchase such a medicine.
Cosmetics aren’t considered medical products, so any cannabis-based cosmetics are banned.
Cannabis can’t be used recreationally in Brazil. Nobody in the country is allowed to plant, cultivate, or harvest the cannabis crop for any purpose other than medical or scientific. The relevant regulations are outlined in Decree No. 9,761/19.
Brazilian law doesn’t distinguish between industrial cannabis and any other variety. So, the cultivation and import of the plant are banned.
Individuals can import cannabis-based products manufactured outside the country.
The relevant regulation is outlined in Ordinance No. 344/98 of the Ministry of Health, prescribing that the CBD and THC concentration in a product must be less than 30mg/ml.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Brazil
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Brazil
ANVISA: Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária – Anvisa
MAPA: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Brazil
Cannabis continues to be heavily regulated in Brazil. All recreational use is prohibited. For medical use, certain functions are allowed, namely: manufacture, import, marketing, prescriptions, and dispensing (provided ANVISA has authorized individuals engaging in these activities). Certain individuals, subject to their possessing authorization from the relevant court, can cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Brazil
Importers need a Sanitary Authorization, as dictated by ANVISA. If the authorization so obtained ceases to be valid (after the expiry of 5 years from its grant date), then the cannabis product imported must be an ANVISA-registered drug for the import to be allowed.
Among the other documents/authorizations necessary for importers (depending on the nature of product under import) are Federal Operating Permit (AFE), Special Permit (AE), and Certificate of Good Practices in Distribution and Storage.
Importers must be registered under Customs Participants Operations Register and Track (RADAR).
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Brazil
- Substance abuse continues to be a challenging social and legal abuse problem in Brazil.
- Government is, hence, sluggish in its attempts of relaxing controls over cannabis cultivation and import.
- The most recent relaxations (allowing the import of cannabis-based products manufactured outside Brazil) are a step in the right direction.
- The regulation still leaves gaps, which will take time to be filled.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Columbia
Cannabis can’t be sold as a product in itself in Columbia. However, medical use is legalized. Personal cultivation and consumption are decriminalized. Possession and public consumption of small quantities (22g) are decriminalized. Colombia enjoys the reputation of being a pioneer in regulating the commercialization of cannabis. Export procedures continue to be simplified, which places cannabis at the center of the nation’s industrial future.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Colombia
Colombia’s regulations allow individuals to grow, sell, and import cannabis for medical use. The legal landscape, however, is complex.
Individual patients can’t access unprocessed cannabis but can access pharma products derived from cannabis.
An individual may be allowed to grow cannabis for personal use (up to 20 plants). The purpose must be strictly medical, and not recreational. Such cannabis (allowed for individual medical use) can’t be sold commercially.
The pharma industry’s regulations in Colombia allow for magistral formulas, which are pharma products made to treat an individual. The regulations that govern how medical cannabis can be included in such formulas are under formation.
Pharma products may comprise THC. Cosmetics, diet supplements, and pharma products may use CBD.
Colombia values the industrial potential of cannabis, which reflects in its regulatory evolution. Recently, the country has legalized the export of dry cannabis flowers. Export procedures governing cannabis-based medicines and CBD-based products (cosmetics, pharmaceutical, and diet supplements, among others) have been simplified.
While cannabis has been grown in Colombia right from the colonial era, it’s been only for industrial use. Recreational use remained restricted since the Constitutional Court of Colombia decriminalized personal possession and consumption in 1994. So, today, the possession of small quantities is decriminalized, though recreational use remains illegal.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Colombia
https://www.minjusticia. gov.co/Cannabis-Con-Fines-Medicinales-y Cientificos/Normatividad-Cannabis
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Colombia
ICA (the Colombian Agency for Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Products)
Ministry of Justice and Law (Ministerio de Justicia y Derecho)
INVIMA (Instituto Nacional de Vigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos)
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Colombia
Growing, harvesting, processing, transforming, internal commerce, import, and export of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes is allowed.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Colombia
To import cannabis (spychoactive) to Colombia, comapnies need import license before VUCE (“Ventana Única de Comercio Exterior”) and must register with FNE (“Fondo Nacional de Estupefacientes”) and ICA.
No licenses are required to import non-psychoactive cannabis products (majorly CBD-based).
To export cannabis, companies need authorization from the Ministry of Justice (cannabis seeds and/or plants) or FNE (cannabis-based products). The company must be ICA registered.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Colombia
National banks in Colombia are hesitant in opening business bank accounts of companies whose main business is associated with cannabis.
The pace of the evolution of regulations around cannabis is slow.
The administrative machinery is proving insufficient in addressing the licensing and authorization applications from cannabis businesses in Colombia.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Peru
Peruvian regulations differentiate between cannabis based on its THC content. Cannabis with more than 0.1% THC (dry weight) is called ‘cannabis for medical use’. Of this type of cannabis, medical and therapeutic use is allowed in Peru.
Cannabis whose THC content is less than 1% is called non-psychoactive cannabis. Regulations governing the use of this category of cannabis, also called hemp, are unclear. Activities involving hemp aren’t within the scope of current cannabis regulations, and hence, no trade licenses are required for them.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Peru
Individuals and legal entities may procure licenses to use, produce, import, and commercialize cannabis and its products, as far as they’re exclusively for medical and therapeutic applications. Patients need to register in a ‘Registry of Patients’ that consume cannabis for medical and therapeutic purposes and must procure and submit a special prescription before they can access medical cannabis.
Recreational use is not allowed, and defaulters are prosecuted under criminal law. Possession of small quantities (8g or less) is decriminalized. Combustion of psychoactive cannabis isn’t considered a medical or therapeutic use and hence not allowed.
The industrial application of non-psychoactive cannabis is very limited in Peru. That’s mostly because the regulation concerning this kind of cannabis (called hemp) is unclear.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Peru
D.S.N° 005-2019-SA (REGLAMENTO)
R.S.N° 003-2018-SA (Crean Comisión Multisectorial para elaborar un informe técnico que contenga el proyecto de Reglamento de la Ley Nº 30681, Ley que regula el uso medicinal y terapéutico del cannabis y sus derivados)
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Peru
Ministry of Agriculture
National Plant Health Institute (“SENASA”)
National Drug Control Office
National Registry for Health Research Institutions
National Registry for Agriculture Research Institutions
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Peru
Activities involving cannabis are strictly regulated. Peruvian authorities issue licenses for activities of scientific investigations to health-research, educational, and agro-research institutes. Licenses for import and trade are issued to individuals and legal entities. Licenses to grow cannabis is issued to labs and public entities.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Peru
The growing, harvesting, trade, and import/export of cannabis – subject to the possession of requisite licenses – are allowed.
Pharmacies and drug stores authorized by DIGEMID may participate in the import/export of cannabis. All cannabis-based product sales must only be done to medical users registered with the Ministry of Health.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Peru
The regulations in place before the recent cannabis regulations don’t draw distinctions between different cannabis types based on THC content. This means there’s no regulation that specifically decriminalizes the industrial use of cannabis for anything other than medical or therapeutic purposes.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Denmark
Cannabis has been legalized for medical use in Denmark under a 4-year pilot program that began on 1st January 2018.
This program has now been extended for another 4 years (2022-2026).
Alongside the aforementioned program, a 4-year development scheme is also in operation, to facilitate the research and development aspects of cannabis cultivation.
On 1st July, 2018, an executive order brought cannabis with less than 0.2% THC out of the scope of legislation governing euphoriant substances.
This means that the sale of products with less than 0.2% THC isn’t restricted or criminalized in Denmark.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Denmark
In 2011, the Danish Medicines Agency approved the use of 3 kinds of cannabis derivatives. Medicines based on these 3 derivatives – Sativex, Marinol, and Nabilone – are prescribed for pain relief and nausea-control in cancer patients, and as muscle relaxants for multiple sclerosis patients.
In 2018, Denmark allowed the medical use of the whole plant of cannabis, under a 4-year pilot program.
Denmark has also allowed the cultivation of cannabis within the country, subject to the grant of permits to farmers.
Any doctor in Denmark may issue a prescription of medicine based on cannabis, or cannabis itself, which are available in pharmacies.
Recreational use of cannabis is illegal in Denmark. Personal possession of small quantities (up to 9.9 grams) may be punished with a warning or a fine.
One surprising exception to this is the neighborhood of Freetown Christiania, where not only cannabis, but other drugs are also freely traded and consumed.
The rationale behind this is that the geographic concentration of drugs means that such trade activity doesn’t extend to the entire country, and hence keeps the problem manageable for the police.
The EU Common Agricultural Policy allows the use of industrial hemp (cannabis with less than 0.2% THC concentration). Like every member of the EU, Denmark interprets and operationalizes this policy with caveats. In Denmark, the sale of low-THC products (including foods) is allowed after the selling legal entity notifies the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA).
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Denmark
EU Common Agricultural Policy
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Denmark
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA)
Danish Medicines Agency (DKMA)
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Denmark
The pilot program allows companies in Denmark to:
- Manufacture and cultivate cannabis bulk (which is then used to manufacture products)
- Import and export cannabis primary products (means products that can then be made into end-products)
- Manufacture intermediate products (means products made by labeling primary cannabis products and then distributed to pharmacies)
Danish pharmacies (independent and hospital-based) can sell cannabis products based on a doctor’s prescription issued to any individual.
All products under the scope of the pilot program are included in a list published on DKMA’s website.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Denmark
A company can obtain authorization to manufacture intermediate products if it intends to import primary products. Distributing imported cannabis products isn’t allowed by itself. Imports of cannabis bulk aren’t allowed either.
Chapter 8 of Executive Order no. 695/2019 defines the rules of export of cannabis. Exports can be done to countries that allow the import of medical cannabis. The development program allows for exports with a view to analyzing the outcomes. Exporters need authorizations of export of euphoriant substances.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Denmark
Denmark’s political parties are torn on the question of legalizing cannabis.
Admittedly, the 4-year pilot program itself isn’t detailed enough to answer all questions of practical essence for individuals, companies, medical bodies, and medical practitioners.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Germany
Medical cannabis was legalized in 2017. Recreational use of cannabis has remained outlawed.
In 2021, the German coalition government said that it was working on draft legislation to legalize the recreational use of cannabis under certain conditions.
This will be a four-year program, after which its outcomes will be evaluated.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Germany
The key conditions in which medical cannabis may be prescribed to a patient are:
- If no other acceptable therapy exists
- If no other acceptable therapy is recommended by a physician
- If the physician believes that medical cannabis may have serious positive effects on the patient.
The medical cannabis so recommended can be in any form of extracts or dried blossoms. BfArM ((Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte) recommends that cannabis be inhaled by patients by using special vaporizers.
Medical cannabis can only be sold in pharmacies.
Recreational use of cannabis is banned in Germany, and it will remain so until the proposed liberal legislation becomes law. However, enforcement isn’t strict. Fines vary between €50 to €100 for people carrying between seven and 28 grams.
Under the proposed legislation, it’s believed that citizens could become members of nonprofit groups that will manage the cannabis outlets, and buy 7 grams of cannabis/day, up to a maximum of 50 grams for the month.
The production, import and export, and sale of recreational cannabis are currently illegal in Germany.
Growers don’t need authorization if they’re growing industrial cannabis (hemp, whose THC concentration is less than 0.2%). Only a notification needs to be issued to the authorities.
CBD foods, as per law, may be marketed as long as they’re authorized by the European Commission.
CBD-based cosmetics are allowed for marketing and sale.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Germany
German Narcotics Act
German Narcotics Act (“Betäubungsmittelgesetz”, “BtMG”)
German Medicines Act (“Arzneimittelgesetz”, “AMG”)
Volume V of the Social Insurance Code (“Fünftes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch”, “SGB V”)
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Germany
German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (“Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte”, “BfArM”)
Ministry of Health
Federal Ministry of Justice
Authority on the Responsible Use of Cannabis
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Germany
Section 3 of the German Narcotics Act allows individuals and legal entities to obtain, cultivate, produce, trade, import, export, deliver, market, sell, and buy cannabis, for medical and scientific research purposes.
Such provisions don’t apply to recreational cannabis.
A public tender process is in place to grant permits for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Germany
Importers/exporters need a narcotics license and an additional import authorization. Importers must verify that they’re importing cannabis:
- Grown under state control (in accordance with UN Convention)
- Has a recognized medical purpose in the country of origin
- Is from a country of origin where a cannabis regulatory body exists
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Germany
German courts have been strict in dealing with cases involving the consumption of CBD-based foods. Even the CBD isn’t declared as a narcotic product, courts have issued fines, citing that consumption of CBD foods could be a method of inducing intoxication.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Italy
Cannabis is allowed for medical and industrial use in Italy. There are restrictions and regulations in place. Recreational use has been decriminalized. Persona possession of cannabis may be punished with fines. The unauthorized sale of cannabis-based products is illegal. Courts rulings in recent years have established that domestic cultivation of cannabis in small amounts for persona use isn’t an offense.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Italy
Authorized cannabis-based medicines can be prescribed to any patient by any physician in Italy. The Ministry of Health has issued a special form for this purpose. Doctors can even request the Ministry of Health to import a cannabis-based medicine if it’s not available in Italy.
The sale of cannabis for recreational use isn’t legal in Italy. However, several ‘cannabis light’ shops have opened in Italy, selling products based on CBD. These products are marketed as ‘industrial use’ products, bearing a ‘do not smoke’ warning. The THC concentration of such products is so low that it’s nearly impossible to get high from consuming them.
Cannabis with a THC concentration lower than 0.2% may be used for industrial purposes. Even if the THC concentration goes up to 0.6%, there isn’t a penalty for the grower. Cannabis with a THC concentration of more than 0.6% is destroyed.
Industrial cannabis is used in foods and cosmetics, fibers, powders, oils, green manure, and raw material for bioengineering, education and research, and floriculture.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Italy
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Italy
Ministry of Health
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Italy
Farmers can grow industrial hemp (THC concentration lower than 0.2%) without seeking any authorization. The concentration may be up to 0.6% and the grower will still not be penalized, as long as they complied with the other conditions of hemp cultivation.
Companies have started selling CBD-based products while categorizing them differently (for example, as collector items).
CBD-based cosmetics may be marketed and sold.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Italy
Subject to an authorization issued by the Ministry of Health, medical cannabis may be grown, sold, and imported in Italy. Such authorizations, according to art. 26 (2) of DPR 309/1990 can be granted to universities and public research labs. Import of hemp seeds is allowed, as long as the THC concentration is less than 0.2%.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Italy
In 2019 the Supreme Court of Cassation ruled that sellers of cannabis-based products expose themselves to criminal liability. However, they may not be charged if the products can be proven to be devoid of any psychotropic or narcotic effects.
This makes the legality of any kind of cannabis-based product questionable and dissuades companies from investing heavily in the future of cannabis.
Legislation on CBD remains unclear. CBD isn’t an ingredient explicitly allowed to be used in food items. However, such foods are marketed and sold.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Slovenia
In 2013, Slovenia reclassified cannabis as a Class II drug, which allowed for regulated medical use of cannabinoids, but not cannabis flowers.
Cultivation remains illegal.
The Ministry of Health has drafted legislation for medical cannabis that will open up the industry in Slovenia. However, such regulation remains is aspirational, and not yet a law.
Recreational use of cannabis is illegal, though personal possession has been decriminalized.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Slovenia
Slovenia’s medical cannabis regulations haven’t evolved at the pace shown by other prominent world nations. Till now, none of the proposed bills that seek to decriminalize the medical use of cannabis have been adopted as law. The Ministry of Health is, now, striving to change this. As of January 2021, medical cannabis use in Slovenia remains heavily regulated. Certain cannabinoid drugs are allowed for sale and use.
The Slovenian law doesn’t explicitly declare the possession of any drugs (in small quantities) as a criminal act. Instead, such acts are considered misdemeanors, punished by a fine. Thus, in a liberal sense of the word, personal possession of small quantities of cannabis is decriminalized in Slovenia. Fines can be reduced if the offender files a petition showing a willingness to undergo rehab treatment.
Cannabinoids have been e-classified as Class II illegal drugs (from the original Class I). Section II of ZPPPD (the regulation related to the production of illicit drugs) regulates the agricultural and industrial use of cannabis (only varieties that contain less than 0.2% THC). The Ministry of Agriculture issues permits for the cultivation of such cannabis (called hemp), for food and industrial use. More permits are issued for the cultivation of cannabis intended for use in food and beverage products, animal feed, and fiber.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Slovenia
Zakon o proizvodnji in prometu s prepovedanimi drogami (ZPPPD) (or, Cannabis Slovenian Production of and Trade in Illicit Drugs Act)
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Slovenia
Ministry of internal affairs
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food;
Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Slovenia
- ZPPPD allows the trade of cannabinoids for medical, educational, scientific, and veterinary purposes.
- Subject to sectoral laws, relevant ministries may issue permits allowing trade in cannabinoid-based medical products.
- CBD-based products continue to be outlawed in Slovenia.
- Similarly, cosmetics based on cannabinoids can’t be sold in Slovenia.
- Artificial CBD-based products are allowed.
- Hemp seeds, oil, seed flour aren’t criminalized.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Slovenia
Special permits may be procured by individuals and legal entities to import and export cannabinoids.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Slovenia
The evolution of medical cannabis regulation in Slovenia has remained stunted, even almost 10 years after the first attempt at liberalization in 2012.
The current legal status of CBD products is clear, as regulations remain ambiguous.
Administrative officers are unaware of standard operating procedures relevant to determining whether a specific cannabinoid-based product is legally compliant or not.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in South Africa
The South African constitutional court decriminalized the personal consumption of cannabis in private. This landmark judgment came in 2018, before which cannabis was completely criminalized under the Medical, Dental, and Pharmacy Act, 1928, citing moral and political reasons.
Arab or Indian traders are accredited with the introduction of cannabis in South Africa. And the history of cannabis, dagga in the local Afrikaans language, dates back to somewhere in the 1680s.
While cannabis use has been recently legalized in South Africa, the Medical Research Council reported there were 2.2 million cannabis users in 2004 and 3.2 million cannabis users in 2008. Even Interpol reports from 2003 had shed light on the fact that 1/3rd of cannabis seized globally was of South African origin.
Even when private use is now decriminalized, the purchase and sale of cannabis, its seeds or oil, and products thereof, remains illegal.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In South Africa
Medical use of cannabis is allowed in South Africa if there is a valid medical prescription for it. Only authorized medical practitioners, licensed by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) can prescribe medical cannabis products to patients. The medical practitioners also have to apply to SAHPRA on behalf of the patients. Following prescription, patients can contact South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) licensed pharmacists for order fulfillment.
Unlawful medicinal use of cannabis can draw criminal sanctions including up to 10 years of jail time with/without a fine.
Recreational use of cannabis has been decriminalized in 2018. However, if the use or cultivation is not in private and not by an adult or not for just personal use, it is an offense that can be punished with 12 months to 25 years of imprisonment with/without a fine.
Processed hemp products and hemp seeds meeting certain criteria are exempt from Schedule 7 of the Medicines Act. And only these cannabis products are allowed to be produced, processed, and used for industrial purposes.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In South Africa
Laws and regulations governing cannabis in South Africa include:
- Medicines and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 (“Medicines Act”)
- Pharmacy Act 53 of 1974 (“Pharmacy Act”)
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in South Africa
Governing body for medical use of cannabis in SA – SAHPRA (South African Health Products Authority), formerly called the MCC (Medicines Control Council)
Governing body for recreational use of cannabis in SA – South African Police Service
Other governmental bodies with a say in matters related to cannabis in SA:
- Central Drug Authority
- Medicine Research Council
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in South Africa
- Medical use of cannabis is allowed in SA with proper prescriptions
- Industrial use of cannabis products including wholesale cultivation, processing, import, and export can be done only by persons holding such permits from the National Department of Health (DoH)
- Recreational use of cannabis is allowed in SA if it is done in private by adults and for personal use only. South Africa’s law enforcement officials have the authority to decide how much quantity of cannabis possession is under the limits of private use and what quantity qualifies for consideration as ‘ for dealing’.
Cannabis import and export provisions in South Africa
Import and export of cannabis-related products can only be done by persons holding such permits from DoH.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in South Africa
Strict and often confusing legislation remains the biggest hurdle in the boom of the SA cannabis industry. The industry can benefit greatly from the South African soil and climate as well as the traditional knowledge of the cultivators if legislative issues are removed.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in China
The law in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) clearly distinguishes between cannabis varieties based on THC concentration.
Cannabis with less than 0.3% THC is called industrial hemp. Cannabis with more than 0.3% THC is called marijuana.
Planting, processing, and sale of marijuana is strictly prohibited.
Plantic, processing, and sale of hemp is permitted (though heavily regulated) only in 2 provinces – Yunnan Province (in southwest China) and Heilongjiang Province (in northeast China).
Jilin Province (also in northeast China) is looking to legalize hemp too.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In China
Historical texts indicate that cannabis was used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in China.
However, PRC laws have banned the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Hemp‘s use for medical purposes is allowed by Yunnan and Heilongjiang provinces, albeit under heavy regulation. The roots and leaves of hemp may be used in traditional medicine.
The use of THC and CBD extracts isn’t banned, although no medicines containing these components have yet been approved for sale in China.
Recreational use of cannabis is banned in PRC. While CBD/THC are recognized as major psychotropic ingredients, no products based on these psychotropics have been approved yet. Possession of cannabis or unlicensed plantation of the same (even in the two provinces that issue such licenses) is punishable with fines and imprisonment.
Hemp (or industrial cannabis) is allowed for industrial use in PRC. The applications are: use of hemp fiber in making paper, sails, canvas, ropes, and fabrics. Hemp may also be used as a construction material. CBD extracts may be used in cosmetics. Vaping products based on CBD aren’t allowed. CBD-based medicines or food additives aren’t allowed either. Hemp seeds, hemp oil, and hemp leaf extracts may be used as material in cosmetics.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In China
Article 347 to 357 of the PRC Criminal Law
The PRC Anti-Drug Law
Regulation on the Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Drugs (“Regulation”)
Amendments to the Regulation in 2013
Amendments to the Regulation in 2016
Variety Directory of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Drugs
Negative List for Market Access
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in China
Public Security Department (“PSD”)
Local Public Security Bureau (“PSB”)
Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Heilongjiang Province (“DARA”)
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in China
Currently, two PRC provinces allow the planting, processing, and sale of cannabis, under heavy regulation.
Cannabis import and export provisions in China
Hemp seeds, CBD, and THC may be imported and exported subject to the grant of licenses by relevant agricultural and rural affairs authorities.
Import and export of the following forms of hemp are also allowed:
- Raw hemp
- Hemp processed but not spun
- Crude hemp fiber
- Hemp yarn
Import of hemp seeds is allowed but restricted by heavy regulations.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in China
CBD/THC are recognized as psychotropic ingredients, though no psychotropic products using these ingredients have been approved.
As farmers continue growing more hemp in, they’re left to fend against the diminishing returns on their yields as CBD prices have plummeted almost 90% from their 2013 values.
Most of PRC’s industrial hemp activity focused on the export of hemp and CBD, which leaves the potential of internal consumption untapped.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in Thailand
Thailand is the first Asian country to legalize the medical use of cannabis. The Narcotics Code, which came into effect on December 09, 2021, removed cannabis from the list of illicit drugs in Thailand.
The Narcotics Act (No.7) BE2562, which came into effect in 2019 regulates the production, consumption, and sale of cannabis in Thailand.
Cannabis has been used in traditional medicine in Thailand for centuries to ease muscle and labor pain. It is likely to be introduced into Thai culture from India, given cannabis is known as ganja in Thailand, which is the Indian word for the substance. Cannabis was criminalized in 1935 by Cannabis Act, B.E. 2477 (1935), which was later repealed.
By 2024, the cannabis market in Thailand is expected to be valued between US$660 million and US$2.5 billion.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In Thailand
For medical use, patients can use marijuana if they have a prescription for the same issued by a certified physician. Though there are restrictions on carrying on one’s person more cannabis than prescribed by the doctor.
Tourists also need to show medical certificates to enter the country with cannabis or risk stash confiscation and legal troubles.
Growing plants by households are allowed and parts with less than 0.2 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (roots, leaves, stalk, and stem) can be sold/used for food and cosmetics. Seeds and flowers have to be sent over to the state medical facilities.
Recreational use of cannabis is illegal in Thailand.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In Thailand
The laws that regulate the production, use, and sale of cannabis in Thailand include:
- Narcotics Act B.E. 2522 (1979) as amended up to Narcotics Act (No. 7) B.E. 2562 (2019).
- Narcotics code
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in Thailand
Under the Narcotics Act (No.7), B.E. 2562, the Ministry of Public Health is the regulator of cannabis in Thailand. Approvals have also to be taken from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in Thailand
Thailand has legalized only the medical use of cannabis. It can also be used in some cosmetic or food products, but recreational use remains illegal. Though, that might change soon.
Cannabis import and export provisions in Thailand
Foreign companies or companies with a foreign majority incorporated in Thailand are restricted from producing, processing, selling, exporting, and importing cannabis.
Cosmetics with cannabis can be made, sold, and used in Thailand but not be imported from abroad.
Following the Narcotics code, applications from local players for licenses to produce, use, process, import, and export cannabis Sativa (hemp) began from January 29, 2021.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in Thailand
Crucial issues affecting the cannabis industry in Thailand are:
- Strict government regulations have resulted in licensing issues.
- The supply of cannabis remains a point in question. Household production is expected to bridge the supply gap.
- Over 311 medical clinics have been set up for dispensing cannabis for medical use (as of November 2020), but that has solved only part of the infrastructural and access issue.
Cannabis Laws and Regulations in India
Cannabis may have been in widespread use in India from as early as 2000 BCE. In 1961, India classified cannabis as a hard drug, in compliance with expectations of the international treaty Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
However, India’s legislation excluded the seeds, leaves, and stems of the cannabis plant from the definition. In 1985, India formed Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act which stuck to the same definitions. It defined the separated resin from cannabis as charas, the flowering tops as ganja.
NDPS allowed states to regulate the use of cannabis leaves, stems, and seeds. Uttarakhand, In 2015, Uttarakhand became the first Indian state to legalize the cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes.
Notes on Medical, Recreational, and Industrial Use Of Cannabis In India
There’s little explicit legislation that defines the legality of cannabis’ medical use in India. In a Jan 2022 application filed by the Central Government of India, it declared that the NDPS doesn’t outlaw the medical use of cannabis, and leaves it to the states of the country to decide. None of the states have exempted cannabis for medical use.
The recreational use of the cannabis plants’ flowering top is illegal in India. However, the leaves and stem of the plant are classified as bhaang which hasn’t been criminalized by the NDPS Act. Many states have enacted their own legislation, in some cases declaring even bhaang to be illegal. Two examples of such acts are the Bombay Prohibition (BP) Act, 1949, and Assam Ganja and Bhang Prohibition Act, 1985. In most other states, bhaang may be sold by the government’s authorized dealers.
Uttarakhand legalized the cultivation of cannabis for industrial use in 2016. The variety of cannabis here is one whose THC content is 0.3%. Growers can seek licenses for cultivating industrial hemp for seeds and fiber. Madhya Pradesh and Assam are among many other states whose governments have expressed interest in following Uttarakhand’s model.
Important Statutes and Regulations For Cannabis In India
Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
Governing Bodies for Cannabis in India
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
3 Things to Know
Cannabis functions allowed in India
The sale and consumption of bhaang is allowed, keeping India’s traditions in view. Industrial cultivation of cannabis with THC contents less than 0.3% is legalized by Uttarakhand. Other states may follow this.
Cannabis import and export provisions in India
Indian government licenses operators to grow cannabis for export. However, excessive regulatory strangleholds have caused the exports to dwindle every year.
Crucial issues faced by the cannabis industry in India
The pace of legislative evolution is excruciatingly slow in India. The opportunity of being one of the world’s biggest imports of cannabis derivatives is still on the horizon, but the potential remains largely untapped.
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