Weed in Chile: Cannabis Legal Status Guide

Author Aleph One
13 March 2024
Just visiting Chile or playing a long stay? Learn all about the pitfalls of enjoying your favorite vice there.
13 March 2024
28 min read
Weed in Chile: Cannabis Legal Status Guide

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  • 1. Personal consumption and cultivation tolerated
  • 1. a. Laws and penalties
  • 2. Medical marijuana in chile
  • 3. Is cbd legal in chile?
  • 4. Can you buy cannabis seeds in chile?
  • 5. Statistics
  • 6. History, politics, and prospects
  • 7. Tips for weed enthusiasts visiting chile
  • 8. The bottom line

When visiting Chile, a cannabis enthusiast may think they’ve gotten to paradise. You often smell weed in the streets or see people rolling and smoking joints, and there are grow shops both in big cities and small towns. It might look like cannabis is as legal as can be in Chile, but caution is advised as the laws that treat the substance in the same manner as cocaine and heroin are still in place and lighting up in public can still get you in trouble.

Personal Consumption and Cultivation Tolerated

For decades, Chile relied on weed smuggled from other countries, such as the neighboring Peru and Paraguay, but recently the situation has been changing as more and more Chileans grow their own supply behind closed doors.

A bill to that effect was passed by Congress in 2015. It seeked to decriminalize everything related to personal consumption: home cultivation, possession, and of course, use. However, to become law, the bill had to pass the Senate, and that never materialized. The whole initiative remained in limbo, keeping personal consumption of cannabis in Chile as illegal as it had ever been.

Nevertheless, the widespread use and strong public support for more liberal cannabis policy has led to the tolerance of personal cultivation and consumption. One only needs to google ‘grow shops near me’ while in Chile to see how ubiquitous it all is.


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Laws and Penalties

Even if you get caught with a small amount of cannabis on your person, you may get in trouble. Even the charges of “micro-trafficking” aren’t out of the question. The 2005 Ley de drogas says that you won’t face criminal charges if there are reasons to believe that the drug is “for personal and immediate use.” Critics say that this language is too vague to give users enough legal protection. Another concern for activists is the clause that treats consumption in a group as an aggravating circumstance – they argue that this is in conflict with human nature, as humans are social creatures.

Medical Marijuana in Chile

The country was one of the first in Latin America to move forward with medical marijuana legalization. In 2015, the law allowing the production and sale of cannabis for therapeutic purposes was passed. The same law allows the use by patients meeting certain criteria and having a prescription by a physician.

In 2016, the country became home to the largest medical marijuana farm on the continent. Under the supervision of the Agriculture and Livestock Service, Chile’s farming regulator, the farm reportedly scaled up the cultivation to 7,000 plants a year, but large-scale farming remains restricted to this day and only a handful of companies have obtained a necessary authorization.

Besides getting a domestically-grown product, authorized medical patients can get imported medicine from countries like Canada (specifically the Tilray company) and others. Often, the approved pharmaceuticals, such as Sativex, are quite expensive, and their cost isn’t covered. Nevertheless, in 2017, the country became the first in Latin America to start selling cannabis-based medicines in pharmacies, and now over 500 of them cater to medical-marijuana patients across the country.


Country Personal Use Cultivation Medical Use Recreational Use
Chile Decriminalized Tolerated Legal Illegal
Argentina Decriminalized Illegal Legal Illegal
Colombia Decriminalized Legal Legal Illegal
Mexico Decriminalized Legal Legal Legalization pending
Peru Decriminalized Illegal Legal Illegal
Uruguay Legal Legal Legal Legal

Comparison of cannabis laws in Latin American countries.

There isn’t much incentive for doctors to prescribe cannabis or cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals to their patients. If a physician is found guilty of prescribing the substance without enough grounds, they face from 5 to 15 years in prison and a fine of $2,000-28,000. Those who have sold the medicine to a patient without a proper authorization face the same charges plus their whole business may be shut down.

Considering all the restrictions for businesses and the hurdles that a patient has to overcome, Chilean activists promote personal cultivation among patients. For example, in a widely publicized event in 2017, the pro-cannabis Daya Foundation had a workshop for patients teaching them the art of cannabis growing.

Is CBD Legal in Chile?

Although CBD is a cannabinoid that has no psychotropic effects, the same rules apply to its use as to medical marijuana in general. This means that the only legal way to obtain CBD oil or similar product is to be a qualified patient, get a doctor’s prescription, and fill it in a licensed pharmacy.


Weed in Chile: Cannabis Legal Status Guide: A CBD Shop sign

CBD in Chile is treated the same way as other cannabis-based products.

Can You Buy Cannabis Seeds in Chile?

Yes, grow shops have packs of cannabis seeds openly on display, so you can buy your favorite cannabis seed variety – from regular to feminized to autoflowering – in a brick-and-mortar store just as easily as you do it online.


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A 2017 study conducted by the University Andrés Bello and the University of London, which looked at 9 Latin American countries, found that in Chile, the rates of consumption were the highest and the perception of risk the lowest. According to the researchers, 40% of Chileans have used marijuana. Furthermore, almost half of the respondents were supportive of cannabis legalization, and the support was related to high scores in the Human Development Index.

Another study, published in 2021, compared Uruguay, which legalized recreational cannabis in 2013, with Chile, as both countries have the highest levels of marijuana use in Latin America and have experienced consistent increases in it over the last 2 decades. The authors of the study note, among other things, that since 2011 the prevalence of adolescent cannabis users has more than doubled in Chile.

History, Politics, and Prospects

Cannabis has a rich historical presence in Chile, dating back to as early as 1545 when hemp production was introduced in the Quillota Valley. Initially cultivated for fiber to support the army and shipping, Chile became one of the few places in the New World where hemp cultivation thrived. This early industry contributed significantly to the country's economy, providing essential materials for both military and maritime purposes. Over time, the cultivation of hemp expanded, with surplus fibers even being exported to regions like Lima, Peru.

By the mid-20th century, cannabis gained popularity among American sailors in Chilean port towns, leading to its increasing use in the local community. The 1960s and 1970s saw a significant uptick in cannabis consumption, fueled by influences from foreign sailors and later by the arrival of hippies from the United States and other Latin American countries.


Weed in Chile: Cannabis Legal Status Guide: A mountain view with a lake

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In recent years, Chile has witnessed significant socio-political changes that have implications for cannabis policy. The massive protests that swept the country in 2019 and 2020 culminated in a historic decision to convene a constitutional convention aimed at replacing the existing constitution, which dates back to the era of Pinochet's dictatorship. This move raised hopes among cannabis legalization advocates, as many delegates to the convention expressed support for decriminalization and even home cultivation of cannabis.

However, despite these promising developments, the referendum on the new constitution ultimately ended with a majority voting against its adoption, leaving the old constitution in place for the time being. This outcome represents a setback for those advocating for progressive cannabis policies but underscores the ongoing debate and evolving attitudes surrounding cannabis legalization in Chile.

Tips for Weed Enthusiasts Visiting Chile

  • Be cautious when using cannabis in public as it is still illegal and can result in penalties
  • Personal cultivation and consumption is tolerated, but not legal
  • Medical marijuana is legal, but requires a prescription from a physician and purchase from a licensed pharmacy
  • CBD products are subject to the same rules as medical marijuana and require a prescription
  • Cannabis seeds can be purchased from grow shops, but cultivation is only tolerated for personal use

The Bottom Line

While visiting Chile, you may think that cannabis is “no big deal” and “everyone does it”, and you’ll probably be right. With its lax policies and wide public support, the country is quite tolerant of the substance. However, don’t forget that most of the restrictive laws from the war-on-drugs era are yet to be repealed here, so don’t push it. If you consume cannabis, do it discreetly and without bothering anyone, in short, like anywhere else. We hope that your visit to Chile will be pleasant, fulfilling, and safe!