Is Weed Legal in Portugal?

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Originally published in Oct 2017 & last updated on October 12, 2023
Written by

This article is just for informational purposes, and to explain the drugs situation in Portugal. It’s not legal information and it doesn’t advocate the use of drugs, legal, decriminalised, or otherwise.

There are quite a few articles online that suggest Portugal is the new Amsterdam or Colorado, which isn’t true. You won’t find any coffeeshops or dispensaries here, and getting prescribed marijuana, even if you have a prescription elsewhere, is quite difficult.

Drugs in Portugal are decriminalised rather than legalised. This means that you won’t go to jail for buying weed (or any other type of drugs). It is possible that you could be sent on a drug rehabilitation program if you’re caught with drugs, but in most cases the police will turn a blind eye unless you’re in possession with large quantities.

People who approach you usually aren’t selling real drugs. There are guys in places like Lisbon and Porto who whisper “hashish, marijuana, cocaine” as you walk past. If you’re looking for some very expensive bay leaves or oregano, or you’d like to clean your nose out with washing powder, they’re the guys to speak to. The police haven’t done anything about it because they’re technically not selling drugs, but it’s becoming such a nuisance to everybody that they’re eventually going to have to do something about it. 

Fake weed lisbon
The fake weed almost looks like the real deal


Get arrested for possession in Portugal and your sentence will typically vary from absolutely nothing to having to attend a rehabilitation program. 

For most tourists it’s usually nothing, although it’s quite likely you’ll have your drugs confiscated. The police generally turn a blind eye to someone smoking a joint and, unless you do it in their face or are carrying a considerable amount, they’re usually not interested in pressing charges: Portugal’s goal with decriminalisation is to treat addicts rather than to imprison them. 

(Note: a considerable amount means more than 25 grams of weed or 5 grams of hash, which is more than what most people need to carry on them at any given time.)

Buying Drugs in Portugal

But just because Portugal is lenient, that doesn’t mean it’s the new Amsterdam (or Canada or California or Uruguay). When it comes to actually buying weed, or any other type of drugs, drugs are still sold via dealers rather than coffee shops. 

Apparently what you can buy is good-quality and even cheaper than Amsterdam prices – the most common form is bolota, named after its acorn-like shape – but you still don’t know what you’re buying. 

You’ll find people trying to sell you drugs in the main squares in Lisbon and Porto, at the markets in the Algarve (especially around Albufeira and more touristy places) and even online. I’ve also been offered weed on São Miguel, one of the islands on The Azores. It can be hard to know what’s legit and what isn’t, and there are definitely a few scammers about. 

As an example, this blog is constantly spammed with fake comments “recommending” different dealers. It’s obvious that they’re not legit because often they’ll use different names, but the comments will come from the same IP address. 

I delete the comments, but a lot of other bloggers and forums don’t. If you see someone recommending a dealer, be very wary. 

weed spammers

What the comments on this blog also reveal is that it’s still difficult to buy weed in Portugal: you still need a dealer and that’s hard to find when you’re a tourist. So, if you’re looking for a “420 vacation,” Portugal isn’t the place: you’re much better off going to Amsterdam for that and coming to Portugal for sun, seafood, and pastéis de nata. 

The safest way to buy weed in Portugal (i.e. not get scammed) is to stay in hostels, find people who’ve already bought weed, and ask them where they got it.

Here’s how NOT to buy it.

Legal Highs

“Legal highs” have been banned in Portugal as of 2013. Back then, there used to be a lot of “smartshops,” particularly in areas like the Bairro Alto in Lisbon, but you don’t really see these anymore. 

Unlike regular drugs, making these illegal doesn’t seem to have created a black market: none of the scammers whisper “hash, marijuana, formerly-legal-but-now-illegal-legal-highs.” Now that they’re just as hard to get as regular drugs, they’re no longer of interest. 

The future of drugs in Portugal

Ever since Portugal decriminalised drugs in 2001, people have been saying that it’s only a matter of time before it turns into the new Amsterdam. That’s not happened, and it’s been almost 20 years.

In 2016, Colorado generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue from marijuana sales. Nearly $200 million of that will go to taxes, which is so much that the government has even considered giving local citizens a rebate.

Of course, most people have long known that taxing marijuana sales would be extremely profitable. Portugal no doubt knows this but, despite going through its worst recession in 40 years, it never legalised marijuana completely. 

It is, however, looking towards the medicinal marijuana market, and pharmaceutical companies like Tilray have invested millions into its cannabis farm productions in Portugal. In fact, Tilray plans to make the small town of Cantanhede near Coimbra, where its production plant will be, its main hub for Europe. 

This doesn’t mean weed is going to be available recreationally, of course, but it does suggest another step in that direction from Portugal. 

Should Portugal fully legalise like Colorado and other places have done? From a financial point of view, it would seem to make sense. From a tourism point of view, however, it’s a little more complicated.

Lisbon and Porto are both experiencing the negative effects of over-tourism, something which Amsterdam is also trying to solve, and it’s likely that Portugal could have more over-tourism problems if it legalised weed. 

A potential solution would be to legalise weed, but to only allow the sales to take place in specific neighbourhoods (Berlin have proposed making weed legal in Kreuzberg but not in the rest of the city). Or, alternatively, to make one or two non-touristy towns in Portugal the new Amsterdams. 

Would the residents of those neighbourhoods or towns actually want this? After seeing what’s happened to Amsterdam, it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t – despite the potential jobs and tax revenue. 

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing or via the site's contact form.

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There are 178 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


    • Like anywhere in the world, go to a whore house and ask a prostitute, you will always get what ever sets you on fire

  1. Why cant there just be a universal lift of marijuana beeing a direct effect to out society. That fact of the matter is that weed has helped in So many different medial genres and we still debating. We sound ridiculous thing that a plant that has never killed anyone is the beast umong the real drugs like crack, meth, LSD. And the list keep groeing. Sto wastting tax payer dollars on nonsense and get to the real issues at hand

  2. Hola

    Anybody Knows where to not get scammed and especially where to go when buying some Mary Jay? I’m in Portimao

  3. Hello – I will be in Lisbon from 10th July looking to buy some smoke – who and how do I contact someone who sells?

  4. Olá pessoal!
    Estou chegando na cidade do Porto próximo dia 12/julho, fico uma semana, depois vou para Lisboa, onde fico mais uma semana, depois vou para o Algarve, fico 9 dias, estou viajando sozinho, preciso de um contato sério honesto para conseguir ‘verde’ ou hash recreativo – estou fora da Europa no momento – aguardo seu contato, sua ajuda no meu e-mail. Obrigado

    I’m arriving in Porto next July 12, I’m going to Lisbon for a week, then I’m going to the Algarve, I’m 9 days, I’m traveling alone, I need a serious honest contact to get ‘ green ‘or recreational hash – I’m out of Europe at the moment – I await your contact, your help in my email. Thank you

  5. If you live in Portugal it’s like anywhere else; you know someone who sells it or you have friends who already have it to share Sharing among friends has always been where it’s at!

  6. I am based in the algarve if anyone is looking for some amazing hash or any other drugs then just drop me an email and ill get you some

  7. Hi James,

    Maybe you can guide me so I can find the best SKUNK as in Amsterdam, not bullshit weed. Thanks. Coming from sunny Malta. 🙂

    • Amsterdam is the place to go for that.

      As mentioned in the article, Portugal isn’t a stoner’s paradise. Decriminalisation here just means that if you get caught, you won’t go to jail.

      I’m not sure if it’s resulted in the quality of weed going up. It’s really just resulted in more scammers.

  8. Could somebody hook me up with wickr or Whatsapp i just moved to albufeira live like 2 m from marina so need some Good quality Mary jane

    • I always seem to find the old lady who is most often about old town. Or she finds me.
      Another young guy who comes down from Lisbon and locates around the square and Marina. Both of these I have found decent hash from at good price.
      Ill be out in 8 weeks, let me know if you find a bud source.

  9. I’m portuguese and you didn’t mentioned an important point about the descriminalization of drugs. It’s not to help the consumption somehow, on the contrary. People who are addicted to drugs simply stopped being considered as criminals and started being considered as people who are sick and need help, since drug addiction is a disease and it would be unfair to punish someone that can’t control their own body. That measurement actually helped alot in diminishing illegal drug traffic, transmition of diseases (because nurses and medical people started giving addicts controlled doses of the drugs they’re addicted to, to help them control the addiction) and the number of drug addicts keeps getting lower. It’s actually one of lowest in Europe.

    That said, and since we are proud of what our measurement has achieved, we would apreciate that you foreigners didn’t ruin everything and come to our country to drug yourselves just because it may be easier to do it here then in your countries. This measurement is meant to help portuguese drug addicts that actually need help and it shouldn’t be used by rude foreigners that look at this country as some lawless place where they can do the stuff that they please. That mentality is incredibly disrespectful towards the portuguese because you are actually taking advantage of something we developed to reduce drug consumption to do drugs, and therefor increase the number of consumption. We have things going well here so please don’t come here to ruin it. Those sellers you mentioned that try to trick tourists didn’t existed before the tourism boom in Lisboa and Porto. They appeared now precisly because they know that unlike the portuguese, foreigners want to buy drugs. It’s because of people like you (everyone here in the comments saying they intend coming here to drug themselves) that many portuguese are getting sicker and sicker of tourists that come here to ruin everything. If you can’t respect this country then don’t come here. Us portuguese thank you.

    • Hi Catarina,

      Those scammers were in Lisbon long before the tourist boom. There were nowhere near as many of them, but they were definitely there. Since they were there before there were tourists, they were selling to Portuguese people back then (it’s certainly not true that the Portuguese don’t do drugs). Anyway, these guys will scam anyone, tourists or Portuguese. They don’t care. Please don’t defend them: they are a plague.

      It’s unfair to blame tourists for these guys. Most tourists aren’t actually interested in taking drugs and just want to walk through neighbourhoods like Baixa or Cais do Sodré without somebody getting in their face and trying to sell them drugs. They are becoming increasingly aggressive, and the situation needs police intervention.

      I don’t know how many people are actually coming to Portugal specifically to do drugs. I would imagine it’s incredibly small. As this article points point, Portugal isn’t like Amsterdam and it isn’t somewhere where you should come if that’s your main goal. There are a handful of people that are interested in smoking weed, and would probably ask the same questions if they were going to London, Berlin, or anywhere else.

      And they probably do go to places like that and buy weed, and it doesn’t cause any problems to the locals. The problem is these aggressive scammers.

      • We come to Portugal for the sun, the nice people , the beaches , the pasteís, the peixe, the music, the way of life , nature , what do you want more …? 🙂

    • No tienes ni idea de lo que dices. Voy a ser breve. Portugal tiene petróleo? Tiene diamantes? Una mina de oro? Pues entonces te callas. Mira Ámsterdam, su economía va cada vez a más y no es por los tulipanes o los canales.
      Ponte a trabajar o estudiar, de momento no eres útil para la sociedad.

      • I don’t think the current drugs situation in Portugal is improving Portugal’s economy: it’s not taxed, and I don’t think it’s even bringing tourists.

        If Portugal became like Amsterdam, it could be very beneficial to Portugal’s economy but I can understand why a lot of people wouldn’t want Lisbon or Porto becoming like Amsterdam.

  10. I’m Portuguese and it’s true what he’s saying… you will never be arrested for possession of weed here. But it’s far from being Amsterdam. However DON’T go to street dealers, try to find a trustworthy source.

  11. Please be careful! if you want good quality you have to pay for it from credible sources.
    Saying this, everybody is going to Portugal to make big $ and of course we the consumers should be educated on laws, quality, safety and credibility.

  12. Hi fellow stone heads ! Was in Lagos Portugal and wanted to get baked , i heard its not expensive, is there anyone who could help get a good score of some herbs por favor

  13. I wonder how “localhookup” knew that he’d been recommended. Do dealers now have Google Alerts for their names, or is this purely a coincidence.

    Alternative theory: “Tokoss” and “localhookup” are the same person and like Biggie and every other so called dealer here are just spamming comments on blogs.

    • Exactly.

      Do a quick search and you’ll see there are hundreds of blogs and forums that have been spammed with people singing the praises of Biggie.

  14. Thanks Tokoss for the recommendation. I’m glad u were satisfied with my service. I’m available all year round if you need from green to white.

  15. Clay m/Ted shut the fuck off. If you have any problem with biggie then sort it out personally with him rather than spamming the web. One more thing I will advise you guys to stop smoking weed because I can see it has affected your brains fools

    • I can see not smoking weed has turned you into an introvert that can’t write without being rude or disrespectful swearing at strangers. Grow up you shambles maybe you should try a joint.

  16. Hey guys, Just spent a week in Portugal with my Girlfriend and Biggie came through in a huge way with some great buds and Meds. This is the way to get your needs filled with no stress, good prices and great bud. I was nervous like all…I’m sure, but after the 30 seconds delivery was done there was nothing to do but enjoy. Just hit up Biggie and he will give specific detail on how to handle everything and everything goes smooth.

  17. Do not buy from these guys above Paul & jerulo it’s a scam they take your money up front & then give excuses,avoid like the plague.

  18. If you need help scoring weed and other stuffs here in Portugal, then email or telegram us. I have runners available all year round and we sell top shelf buds and quality stuffs.

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