European Views on Marijuana

European Views on Marijuana

Historically, European views on marijuana usage have been more relaxed than those in the US. While the laws and punishments (if any) for possession or consumption vary from country to country, overall the continent takes a much more laid-back stance concerning the drug. This laid back approach is sometimes reflected in the legislation surrounding the drug, but other times the government’s stance does not reflect the country’s attitude at large.

Varying European views on marijuana include the following examples:

  • Belgium: Marijuana is illegal in this country, but it has been decriminalized in some areas. Typically, consumption of small amounts in the home is tolerated, but still illegal.
  • Czech Republic: Like Belgium, marijuana is illegal, but it has been decriminalized. While selling it is illegal, growing it is not a criminal offense. Since 2013, the country has approved the medical use of marijuana on a prescription basis.
  • France: In this country, marijuana is legal only for medicinal purposes. Growing, selling, owning or using it (without permission) is prohibited.
  • Germany: Possession of marijuana is illegal; however, if a person possesses small amounts, charges are often dropped. Consuming marijuana in private is legal, because it is considered a form of self-harm, which is not a crime.
  • The Netherlands: This nation has long had some of the most liberal cannabis laws. Marijuana products are sold openly in certain legalized coffee shops, and possession of small amounts for personal use is not a criminal offense.
  • Portugal: This country eliminated criminal penalties for drug users in 2001. Those caught in possession of marijuana on multiple occasions are encouraged to enter drug rehab.
  • Spain: Possession of marijuana in public places is punished by a fine and confiscation. Growing the plant on private property for personal use by adults in a private space is legal.
  • Switzerland: Marijuana is illegal, but it is not considered a criminal act. Since 2012, growing up to four plants is legal in some cantons (small, semi-sovereign states).

This is not an exhaustive list of countries and their policies; rather, it demonstrates the changing views of marijuana. These increasingly lax views can also be seen in the US, where several states have passed laws allowing the usage of marijuana for medical purposes, and a couple of states have legalized its usage altogether.

However, even though countries (including the US) are relaxing their policies on marijuana, people can still become addicted to this drug. Every person responds differently to marijuana, and some people find themselves physically and emotionally dependent upon it.

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