In 2001, in one of the most progressive social moves surrounding drug usage, Portugal decriminalized all drugs, weed included. No, that does not mean the Portuguese government was looking to promote smoking. Rather, it simply took a creative and liberal approach to its leading social problem and record-high drug rates. The decision was motivated by the choice to help rehabilitate addicts and give them coping tools, rather than serve them with jail time.
Is marijuana legal in Portugal?
It is illegal to plant, sell, possess, buy or smoke cannabis for recreational purposes in Portugal.
Because recreational use has been decriminalized, however, if found with 20g or less of flower, you will not face criminal charges.
Joao Goulao, Portugal’s national drugs coordinator, remarked on the decision: “decriminalization is not the solution for everything, but everything is much easier when thinking about addiction as a disease with the same dignity as other diseases.”
As of 2018, the use of medical cannabis was made legal in Portugal. Patients with cannabis licenses can obtain medical marijuana in Portugal from licensed pharmacies and dispensaries.
Portugal marijuana laws: rehabilitation and punishment
Tourists caught smoking a joint will probably be ignored or have their weed confiscated. Users caught smoking small amounts of marijuana (or hard drugs) are subject to evaluation by Portugal’s local Commission for Dissuasion of Drug Addiction. This includes a team of three – a legal expert and two mental health professionals, who will assess their level of addiction and possible rehabilitation routes.
Selling weed in Portugal? Now that’s a whole different level of offense. You’re looking at a minimum of one to five years jail time, and possibly up to ten depending on the severity of the circumstances.
Portugal cannabis laws: medical usage
On April 15 2021 the Portuguese government passed a long-awaited law on the terms and conditions surrounding medical cannabis in Portugal, which included clarification on marketing, prescribing, selling, and dispensing. The law also established the pricing of medical marijuana, which will follow the same rules as the rest of Portugal’s medications. Currently the only medication available is Sativex, and it is sold at the relatively high price of 475 Euro, with a 37% co-payment refund by the State.
Medical marijuana has been approved by the Portuguese government for use in treating pain pathologies, such as oncology, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy.
Getting weed in Portugal: tourists and visitors
Coffee shops smelling weed like the kind you find in Amsterdam used to be prevalent in Portugal’s major tourist cities, but were banned in 2013. You can find it being sold illegally on the streets but watch out for the many weed dealers offering hashish who are in fact selling Bay leaves and oregano.
While the common form of cannabis in Portugal, bolota, is qualitative and even cheaper than the weed in Amsterdam, it’s hard to tell who’s selling the real thing and who’s selling a cheap knockoff. And with a lack of trade or police regulation on the matter, you are taking a risk you bought yourself some new salad ingredients. Looking for some purchasing tips? This local expert has written up quite a few.
Can you grow your own cannabis in Portugal?
No, it’s illegal. While there was a bill passed suggesting to legalize it, it did not make the cut. To date, selling tools for growing weed in Portugal or producing weed in Portugal is prohibited, as well as cultivating cannabis plants.