Cannabis legislation in Europe: an overview (2017)


A more recent (2023) version of this report is available: Cannabis laws in Europe: questions and answers for policymaking.
At a time of increased debate on the laws controlling the use of cannabis in the European Union, this report answers some of the questions most often asked about cannabis legislation. Using a question and answer format, basic definitions and the obligations of countries under international law are set out in a section on ‘What is cannabis and what are countries’ obligations to control it?‘ Two following sections examine the links and disparities between the content of the laws and their guidelines on the one hand and the actual implementation of the laws on the other. The final question and answer section considers whether changes in law have affected cannabis use and how much public support for legal change exists, as it looks at the future direction of cannabis legislation in Europe.

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Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Part 1: What is cannabis and what are countries’ obligations to control it?
  • Part 2: What do the laws and associated guidelines say?
  • Part 3: What happens to cannabis offenders in practice?
  • Part 4: Where is cannabis legislation going?
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Resources
  • Acknowledgements