Age Verification
Cannabis Age: What is the Minimum Age for Cannabis and Marijuana Use?
Learn about legal restrictions on the use of cannabis and marijuana worldwide and the minimum legal age where these substances are allowed.
October 30, 2023
min read

In countries where it is allowed by law, the legal age for the use of cannabis and marijuana is between 18-21. Therefore, the regulations make it essential for online sellers of cannabis products to use age verification solutions to ensure they are selling to individuals of legal age.

Countries regulate cannabis differently according to their view on cannabis and its effects on various individuals, particularly minors. Studies have shown minors have a higher chance of developing dependency once they start using cannabis compared to adults and that minors exposed to cannabis have a high probability of experiencing anxiety and depressive disorders. However, the use of cannabis is allowed in some instances.

Medical cannabis helps relieve pain, helping adults and children with severe illnesses like epilepsy and cancer. Cannabis is generally a better alternative to morphine and Oxycontin because it is not addictive. It is also considered an alternative to opioid-based pain-relieving medicines that cause nausea and vomiting because cannabis reduces these side effects. 

In this article:

Is Cannabis Use Legal?

Cannabis is a general term referring to products derived from the plant Cannabis Sativa. The cannabis plant contains many chemical substances, one of which is THC, a substance that is addictive and can alter a person's mental state. Therefore, the term "marijuana" refers to cannabis products that contain high levels of THC. 

The legality of cannabis products, specifically marijuana, for medical and recreational purposes varies from country to country. Legal restrictions may depend on how cannabis is owned, distributed, grown, or consumed. Legality can also rely on the user's medical condition when used for medical purposes.

In most countries, governing policies for cannabis stem from three UN conventions: the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), the Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), and the Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988). Under the Single Convention treaty, cannabis is a Schedule I drug, along with opioids. Something that's been debated for years as there are no addictive properties in the former. 

There is a global debate around the legality of cannabis and marijuana. Where cannabis or marijuana is permitted by law, there are severe restrictions on age to prevent these products from being abused by minors. 


Related content: Read our guide to the legal age for drinking

Minimum Age for Cannabis and Marijuana Use Around the World

United States

In the US, the federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the use of cannabis. However, most states legalized some form of medical cannabis. Additionally, an increasing number of states legalized cannabis for recreational use by adults. Depending on the state, an adult may be considered an individual over 21 or 18.


In 2014, Uruguay legalized cannabis, regulating all aspects of the cannabis market, including production, sales, and consumption for adults over 18. Uruguay is the first country to regulate an entire cannabis market. This change aimed to eliminate organized crime and violence from the illegal drug industry. 


The Netherlands prohibits all drugs, including cannabis. It is illegal to produce, sell, and possess drugs in the Netherlands. However, the government created a drug policy that tolerates cannabis usage under specific, strict conditions for those adults over 18.


Malta is the first European country to legalize the possession and growing of cannabis for personal use. The new legislation stipulates that anyone aged 18 or over can possess up to seven grams of cannabis. In addition, individuals can grow up to four cannabis plants at home and store up to 50g of the dried product.

The Need for Trusted Age Verification For Online Cannabis Sales

The legalization of marijuana in the United States has progressed rapidly in recent years. Marijuana is currently legal for recreational use in 18 US states, including Colorado, Washington, California, Michigan, and New York. In addition, 37 US states allow the use of cannabis for medical use by qualified individuals.

As the legal market grows, sellers need to prevent minors from accessing their products. Whether a business sells cannabis products directly or delivers them by courier, it must comply with age restrictions. Performing age verification checks is required to ensure that customers are of legal age.

If a minor purchases cannabis products, the illegal buyer, the seller, and the courier, may be subject to penalties. Under state law, selling marijuana to minors can be punishable by fines, imprisonment, suspension, or revocation of business licenses.

Direct verification of customer-supplied IDs is time-consuming, error-prone, and not relevant for sellers of cannabis products online. Cannabis traders must be able to trust that the person buying their product is who they are claiming to be and that the stated age is correct and must be able to prove this to authorities.

Traditionally, online age verification took the form of age gates. A virtual barrier designed to prevent people of a certain age from accessing a site. An age gate asks website visitors for their date of birth before visiting a website but has no way to verify the age. Unfortunately, this is insufficient for online sales of cannabis products.

Today, more advanced technological solutions are available, working as follows: 

  • The customer scans or photographs an ID document such as a passport or driver's license.
  • The age verification solution processes the document and extracts the name, date of birth, and location. It cross-references the data with official databases to verify authenticity.
  • In addition, the solution might use techniques like face recognition or biometrics to check that the website visitor is the owner of the provided ID document.

Modern web-based age verification solutions can allow customers to be on-boarded quickly and effectively while accurately verifying that they are of legal age to purchase cannabis products.

Age Verification with BlueCheck

BlueCheck achieves this balance by combining a sleek, field-tested user interface with a robust verification engine that connects to a network of authoritative databases and credit bureaus. In addition, we partner with companies in various industries and growth stages to provide affordable, reliable online age verification. Learn more about how BlueCheck can help you solve your age verification challenges.