Illegal, Legal, and Semi Legal Marijuana use by country and state



USA Medical Cannabis – The United States federal government does not currently recognize any legitimate medical use. However 17 state laws currently allow for the medicinal use of cannabis but the United States Supreme Court has later ruled that the federal government has the right to regulate and criminalize marijuana also in these states, even for medical purposes. Smoked cannabis is today not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since 1996, Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and nine other States have passed laws to let sick people who qualify use marijuana.

Lately a leading US doctors group has endorsed using marijuana for medical purposes, urging the US government to roll back a prohibition on using it to treat patients and supporting studies into its medical applications.

The federal government of the United States continues to argue that smoked cannabis has no recognized medical purpose (pointing to a definition of “medical purpose” published by the DEA, not the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, or the office of the U. S. Surgeon General and the U. S. Public Health Service).

Alaska – 1 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature) – Approved Conditions: Cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity, and nausea. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

California – 8 oz usable; 18 plants (6 mature, 12 immature) – California was one of the first. In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, legalizing marijuana for medical use. Proposition 215 permits seriously ill Californians to use marijuana, provided they first obtain a doctor’s recommendation. Proposition 215 also gives doctors a legal defense against professional or legal sanctions for recommending marijuana use. Approved Conditions: AIDS, anorexia, arthritis, cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma, migraine, persistent muscle spasms, including spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, seizures, including seizures associated with epilepsy, severe nausea; Other chronic or persistent medical symptoms.

Colorado – 2 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature) – Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS positive, cachexia; severe pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy; or persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Colorado Board of Health.

Hawaii – 3 oz usable; 7 plants (3 mature, 4 immature) – Approved conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS; A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy, or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Maine – 1.25 oz usable; 6 plants (3 mature, 3 immature) – Approved diagnosis: epilepsy and other disorders characterized by seizures; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis and other disorders characterized by muscle spasticity; and nausea or vomiting as a result of AIDS or cancer chemotherapy.

Maryland – Passed a medical marijuana affirmative defense law in 2003 which dictates that if a person is arrested for marijuana use but is found to be using marijuana out of medical necessity, she or he will only face a modest fine.

Montana – 1 oz usable; 6 plants – A qualifying patient and a qualifying patient’s caregiver may each possess six marijuana plants and one ounce of usable marijuana. “Usable marijuana” means the dried leaves and flowers of marijuana and any mixture or preparation of marijuana.

Nevada – 1 oz usable; 7 plants (3 mature, 4 immature) – Approved Conditions: AIDS; cancer; glaucoma; and any medical condition or treatment to a medical condition that produces cachexia, persistent muscle spasms or seizures, severe nausea or pain. Other conditions are subject to approval by the health division of the state Department of Human Resources.

New Mexico – 6 oz usable; 7 plants (4 mature, 3 immature) – Approved Conditions: Under current state law, the only qualifying conditions for the medical cannabis program are cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, spinal cord damage with intractable spasticity, HIV/AIDS. Also, any patient in hospice care could qualify.

Oregon – 24 oz usable; 24 plants (6 mature, 18 immature) – Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, or treatment for these conditions; A medical condition or treatment for a medical condition that produces cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, including seizures caused by epilepsy, or persistent muscle spasms, including spasms caused by multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Resources.

Rhode Island – 2.5 oz usable; 12 plants – Approved Conditions: Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, or the treatment of these conditions; A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe, debilitating, chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including but not limited to, those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including but not limited to, those characteristic of multiple sclerosis or Crohn’s disease; or agitation of Alzheimer’s Disease; or any other medical condition or its treatment approved by the state Department of Health.

Vermont – 2 oz usable; 9 plants (2 mature, 7 immature) – Approved Conditions: Cancer, AIDS, positive status for HIV, multiple sclerosis, or the treatment of these conditions if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms; or a disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating and produces severe, persistent, and one or more of the following intractable symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe pain or nausea or seizures.

Washington – 60-day supply – Approved Conditions: Cachexia; cancer; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; glaucoma; intractable pain (defined as pain unrelieved by standard treatment or medications); and multiple sclerosis. Other conditions are subject to approval by the Washington Board of Health.

Australia Medical Cannabis – Politicians in the Australian Capital Territory voted to allow doctors to determine when marijuana is medically appropriate. The decision enraged the Australian Federal Police and intensive lobbying efforts began to reverse the legislative action. Legislators caved-in to the demands of the police, reversed their earlier action, and voted to block doctors from legally prescribing marijuana.

Australian Capital Territory – possession of up to 25 grams, or two plants, is not a criminal offence but carries a $100 fine.

South Australia – Possession of cannabis is a moderate offense, with fines ranging from $150 to $300 for possession and cultivation of small amounts.

Western Australia – Possession of up to two plants is accepted for private use, excess of the latter can face fines of over $150.

New South Wales and Tasmania – Cannabis use is illegal and attracts fines.

Queensland – It is a criminal offence to be in possession of any amount of cannabis, people charged must face court and can be convicted. Possession of cannabis or any schedule 1 or 2 drug specified in the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years in Queensland. Possession of smoking utensils or anything used to smoke cannabis is also a criminal offence in Queensland.

Belgium Individual use of marijuana by adults has the lowest priority to police, if the use doesn’t cause any problems to his environment. Which basically means the use in public places, possession of more than 3 grams, or the sale are pursued in court.

Medical Cannabis – the Belgian government has recently initiated trials to determine the effectiveness of medical cannabis, and may soon decriminalize possession of small amounts.

Canada Medical Cannabis – A court declared Canada’s Marijuana Medical Access Regulations unconstitutional “in not allowing seriously ill Canadians to use marijuana because there is no legal source of supply of the drug.” In effect, this means that Canadians cannot be prosecuted for using marijuana medically because the Marijuana Medical Access Regulations gives patients the right to do so, but does not set up any legal apparatus for obtaining cannabis.

Canada produces about 400 kg of medical cannabis annually, in an abandoned mine in Flin Flon, Manitoba. On April 19, 2005, the Canadian government additionally licensed the prescription sale of a natural marijuana extract – effectively liquid marijuana – called Sativex.

The federal department Health Canada now provides detailed advice (for its own citizens), including not only the medical information needed to make an informed choice, but the law enforcement aspects, and how to apply for authorization to possess marijuana for medical purposes. There is also information that may be of help to the patient’s health professional. Apply to the Office of Cannabis Medical Access (OCMA) or Medical Marihuana Access Division (MMAD).

Germany Medical Cannabis – Consumption is legal, possession of small amounts is treated differently between federal states. In most cases possession of less than 5g Cannabis herb or resin is not prosecuted. There are no special laws for medical Cannabis. In November 2007 some patients get an exception approval for using medical marijuana from the public health authority.

Ireland Under Irish law cannabis is not recognised as having any medical benefits. The most recent Misuse of Drugs lists cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol and its derivatives as schedule 1 drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Acts of 1977 and 1984.

Netherlands The possesion/purchase of Cannabis is “tolerated” in small amounts. One can purchase cannabis in special shops (called “coffee shops”) if one is age eighteen and over. Cultivation and wholesale of cannabis is likewise “tolerated” in small amounts (guidelines here are no more than five plants).

Medical Cannabis – Since 2003 it is a legal prescription drug known as “Mediwiet”, available at pharmacies. However laws remain on the books classifying possession and sale as illegal, but due to a non-enforcement policy, it has been de facto legalized.

New Zealand Possession of any amount of cannabis is illegal in New Zealand and can result in a fine of up to $500 or even a 3-month prison sentence. Anyone caught in possession of more than 28 grams of cannabis or 100 cannabis joints is classed as a dealer unless s/he can prove they are not.

Medical Cannabis – Health Minister Annette King has stated that she is not “unsympathetic to using cannabis in a medicinal form, but that’s different to saying we should let everybody smoke it.” Her official position is that more conclusive studies are needed, and a method of regulating dosage is necessary before she support medical access to cannabis.

United Kingdom Cultivation and use of cannabis was generally outlawed in 1928. Cannabis was downgraded from a Class B to a Class C drug in January 2004. Possession: If one is caught with even a “small” amount of cannabis on him or her person or premises, the person is liable to be prosecuted.

Medical Cannabis – In 1999, a House of Lords inquiry recommended that cannabis be made available with a doctor’s prescription. Though the government of the U. K. has not accepted the recommendations, new long-term clinical trials have been authorized. Sometimes juries have returned verdicts of “not guilty” for people charged with marijuana possession for medical use.


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