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Marijuana use around the world: Where is it most popular?

Posted April 20

Marijuana

Marijuana legalization has been a political issue in the United States for some time, and while it remains illegal in most states, others have softened their stance in recent years.

Colorado and Washington both passed initiatives by popular vote to decriminalize and legalize cannabis in 2012. In 2014, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., followed suit. Many states including Massachusetts, California, Missouri, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Ohio have flirted with legalization for a few election cycles, with buzz growing.

The United States isn't the only country where people use marijuana legally or illicitly. In fact, it isn’t even the country with the highest reported marijuana use.

To determine the countries with the highest marijuana use, HealthGrove used data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which covers reported use of cannabis for each country in the last year. Although we included the most recent data available, the year collected varies by country. We've ranked the list from least to most reported usage, and provide legality information for each country.

Note: We excluded territories, focusing on formal countries and countrywide cannabis legality.

#23. Estonia*

Marijuana Legality: Decriminalized
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 6%
Reporting Year: 2008

*Tied with Ireland and United Kingdom

#23. Ireland*

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 6%
Reporting Year: 2011

*Tied with United Kingdom and Estonia

#23. United Kingdom*

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 6%
Reporting Year: 2013

*Tied with Ireland and Estonia. Data for the United Kingdom was calculated as an average of Great Britain and UK territories (Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales).

#22. Egypt

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 6.24%
Reporting Year: 2006

#21. Denmark

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 6.9%
Reporting Year: 2013

#20. Netherlands

Marijuana Legality: Legal to possess up to 5 grams, decriminalized for public use, legal for use in coffeeshops. In the Netherlands, coffeeshops (sometimes spelled koffieshop) are establishments where the sale of cannabis for personal consumption by the public is tolerated by the local authorities.
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 7%
Reporting Year: 2009

#19. Jamaica

Marijuana Legality: Decriminalized
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 7.21%
Reporting Year: 2010

#18. Chile

Marijuana Legality: Decriminalized
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 7.47%
Reporting Year: 2012

#16. Barbados*

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.3%
Reporting Year: 2006

*Tied with Uruguay

#16. Uruguay*

Marijuana Legality: Legal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.3%
Reporting Year: 2011

*Tied with Barbados

#15. France

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.4%
Reporting Year: 2010

#14. Belize

Marijuana Legality: Mostly tolerated
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.45%
Reporting Year: 2005

#13. Brazil

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.8%
Reporting Year: 2011

#12. Saint Lucia

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.87%
Reporting Year: 2010

#11. Israel

Marijuana Legality: Medical use only
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 8.88%
Reporting Year: 2009

#10. Madagascar

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 9.1%
Reporting Year: 2004

#9. Czech Republic

Marijuana Legality: Decriminalized for personal use in small amounts
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 9.2%
Reporting Year: 2012

#8. Zambia

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 9.5%
Reporting Year: 2004

#7. Spain

Marijuana Legality: Decriminalized
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 9.6%
Reporting Year: 2011

#6. Australia

Marijuana Legality: Decriminalized in some states
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 10.16%
Reporting Year: 2013

#5. Canada

Marijuana Legality: Medical use only
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 12.2%
Reporting Year: 2012

#4. Nigeria

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 14.3%
Reporting Year: 2008

#3. New Zealand

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 14.6%
Reporting Year: 2007

#2. United States

Marijuana Legality: Illegal at the federal level but decriminalized or legal in some states
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 15.4%
Reporting Year: 2013

#1. Iceland

Marijuana Legality: Illegal
Percent of People Who Reported Using Cannabis in the Last Year: 18.3%
Reporting Year: 2012

See How the Countries Compare

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  • Barry Smith Apr 20, 11:34 a.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    That would depend on "who is getting the money". Illegal= for profit prisons full and money flowing upstream to politicians and major stake holders, corrupt judges etc etc, as well as large sums of money to local police forces through seized property etc. Legal= Increase in overall state tax revenue that goes into state budgets that voters at least have some control over via the ballot box.

    As far as a flat $ figure, based off of Colorado #'s, legal= MUCH more revenue generated, but less at to the top, and corporate masters.

  • Doug Smallen Apr 20, 11:21 a.m.
    user avatar

    Does The War on Drugs make more from Pot than legalizing it?