The legality of cannabis for medical and recreational use varies by country, in terms of its possession, distribution, and cultivation, and (in regards to medical) how it can be consumed and what medical conditions it can be used for. These policies in most countries are regulated by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs that was ratified in 1961, along with the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.The use of cannabis for recreational purposes is prohibited in most countries; however, many have adopted a policy of decriminalization to make simple possession a non-criminal offense (often similar to a minor traffic violation). Others have much more severe penalties such as some Asian and Middle Eastern countries where possession of even small amounts is punished by imprisonment for several years. Countries that have legalized recreational cannabis are Canada, Georgia, South Africa, and Uruguay, plus eleven states and the District of Columbia in the United States and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia. Legality varies in these countries and subnational jurisdictions when it comes to commercial sale. A policy of limited enforcement has also been adopted in many countries, in particular Spain and the Netherlands where the sale of cannabis is tolerated at licensed establishments.Countries that have legalized the medical use of cannabis include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, and Thailand. Others have more restrictive laws that only allow the use of certain cannabis-derived pharmaceutical drugs, such as Sativex, Marinol, or Epidiolex. In the United States, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of cannabis, but at the federal level its use remains prohibited for any purpose.
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