Ask Our Experts 09/30/2018


Q: Which countries in Europe have the most progressive laws for legalization?



The most progressive cannabis laws in Europe are found in Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. While the adult use of cannabis remains illegal in those countries, the acceptance of social use (reflected in the advancement of cannabis-related legislation and low levels of police enforcement) is more tolerant than in other European countries. In Spain, personal possession and use in private spaces have been decriminalized. The protection extends to Spain’s cannabis social clubs, where enforcement of membership-only rules has been repeatedly questioned in Spain’s highest courts. In Italy, possession of small amounts for personal use is a misdemeanor, and offenders face only fines or administrative sanctions. Most people are surprised to learn that adult use is not fully illegal in the Netherlands, given the widespread acceptance of their well-known coffee shops. The Netherlands decriminalizes possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis for personal use, establishing the legal criteria for the policy of tolerance applied to the popular coffee shops throughout the country.


Germany and countries such as Portugal and the Czech Republic also feature progressive cannabis laws, based on the advanced states of their medical markets. Factors such as permitting a wide range of medical conditions eligible for treatment with medical cannabis, availability of health care coverage including cannabis products, product diversity, and proper infrastructure to establish a competitive import and export program, are all aspects of a country’s regulatory structure which demonstrate  progressive or prohibitive attitudes towards emerging cannabis markets. Many countries have legalized limited medical programs with restricted product offerings; yet, it is expected that the laws in such countries will evolve to become more progressive as medical and adult-use cannabis legalization spreads throughout Europe.


For comprehensive analyses on the Canadian or Brazilian Markets, see New Frontier Data’s series of our Country Reports. For more general information on the status of cannabis legalization around the world, as well as about particular challenges and opportunities in foreign markets, download New Frontier Data’s our growing expanding library of free Country Profiles at, or view them on Equio 4.0.


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