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Mapped: Countries Where Recreational Cannabis is Legal

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

This map shows the countries where recreational cannabis use is allowed as of April 2024.

Countries Where Recreational Cannabis is Legal

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2024, Germany became the third European Union country to legalize cannabis for personal use, following Malta and Luxembourg.

Here, we map the countries where recreational cannabis use is allowed as of April 2024, based on data from Wikipedia.

Limited to Few Countries

In total, only nine countries have legalized recreational cannabis use nationwide. However, just a few of them have licensed sales.

CountryEffective dateLicensed sales since
🇺🇾 UruguayDecember 2013July 2017
🇬🇪 Georgia30 July 2018Never authorized
🇿🇦 South Africa18 September 2018Never authorized
🇨🇦 Canada17 October 201817 October 2018
🇲🇽 Mexico28 June 2021Never authorized
🇲🇹 Malta14 December 2021Never authorized
🇹🇭 Thailand9 June 20229 June 2022
🇱🇺 Luxembourg21 July 2023Never authorized
🇩🇪 Germany1 April 2024Never authorized
🇺🇸 U.S.Varies by stateVaries by state
🇦🇺 AustraliaVaries by jurisdictionNever authorized

At the federal level, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance in the United States. That said, individual states do have the right to determine their laws around cannabis sales and usage. Currently, cannabis is allowed in 24 states, 3 territories, and the District of Columbia.

Interestingly, the oldest legal text concerning cannabis dates back to the 1600s—when the colony of Virginia required every farm to grow and produce hemp.

Since then, cannabis use was fairly widespread until the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was enforced, prohibiting marijuana federally but still technically allowing for medical use.

Today, the U.S. cannabis market is a $30 billion business. By the end of the decade, that number is expected to be anywhere from $58 billion to as much as $72 billion.

Similar to the U.S., Australia does not allow the use at the national level, but cannabis can be used legally in the Australian Capital Territory, which includes the capital Canberra.

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United States

Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.

At the federal level, cannabis is illegal, but state laws differ. This graphic looks at the timelines of cannabis legislation in the U.S.

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cannabis legalization timeline in U.S. states

cannabis legalization timeline in U.S. states

Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.

At the federal level, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance. That said, individual states do have the right to determine their own laws around cannabis sales and usage.

This visual from New Frontier Data looks at the status of cannabis in every state and the timeline of when medical and/or recreational use became legal.

Cannabis Through the Years

In the U.S., the oldest legalese concerning cannabis dates back to the 1600s—the colony of Virginia required every farm to grow and produce hemp. Since then, cannabis use was fairly wide open until the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was enforced, prohibiting marijuana federally but still technically allowing medical use.

Jumping ahead, the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug—the same category as heroin. This prohibited any use of the substance.

However, the 1970s also saw a counter movement, wherein many states made the move towards decriminalization. Decriminalization means that although possessing cannabis remained illegal, a person would not be subject to jail time or prosecution for possessing certain amounts.

By the 1990s, some of the first states passed laws to allow the medical usage of cannabis, and by 2012 two states in the U.S.—Washington and Colorado—legalized the recreational use of cannabis.

Cannabis Legislation Today and Beyond

The MORE Act (the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) was passed in the House early 2022, and if made law, it would decriminalize marijuana federally.

“This bill decriminalizes marijuana. Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”– U.S. Congress

Cannabis still remains illegal at the federal level, but at the state levels, cannabis is now fully legal (both for medicinal and recreational purposes) in a total of 22 states.

Over 246 million Americans have legal access to some form of marijuana products with high THC levels. Looking to the future, many new cannabis markets are expected to open up in the next few years:

Potential cannabis legalization timeline in U.S. states

The earliest states expected to open up next for recreational cannabis sales are Minnesota and Oklahoma. There is always a lag between legalization and actual sales, wherein local regulatory bodies and governments set standards. States like Kentucky, on the other hand, aren’t likely to even legalize medicinal cannabis until 2028.

It’s estimated that by 2030, there will be 69 million cannabis consumers in the country, up 33% from 2022.

Overall, the U.S. cannabis market is likely an important one to watch as legal sales hit $30 billion in 2022. By the end of the decade, that number is expected to be anywhere from $58 billion to as much as $72 billion.

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