The criminalisation of people who use drugs compounds drug-related challenges and worsens health and welfare outcomes. Across the world, there is a growing number of jurisdictions where the possession of scheduled drugs for personal use has been decriminalised. In some countries and federal states, this has been extended to the cultivation of cannabis for personal use or the sharing of substances where there is no financial gain (also known as ‘social sharing’).
In the context of drug policy, ‘decriminalisation’ refers to the removal of criminal penalties for activities related to drug use. In some legal systems criminal penalties are replaced by civil sanctions, while in other systems no penalties are applied – please see our glossary for more detailed definitions.
Some form of decriminalisation has been adopted in 30 countries – with significant differences and levels of effectiveness. This interactive map provides an overview of these models, offering insights into decriminalisation laws, their implementation and impact.
The inclusion of a jurisdiction in the map is not an endorsement. For example, countries like Mexico and Russia are highlighted below, despite the fact both countries have ineffectual frameworks as detailed in their country profiles. The gold standard of decriminalisation is the removal of all punishment for drug use, and the availability and accessibility of evidence- and human rights-based harm reduction, health and social services on a voluntary basis.
This map has been developed in partnership with Release, the International Drug Policy Consortium, and Accountability International, thanks to the financial support of the Robert Carr Fund and Open Society Foundations.