Is Marijuana Legal in Peru?
If you like to smoke an occasional joint or two, you might be wondering: Is marijuana legal in Peru?
The answer, at first glance, is straightforward. Officially, you are allowed to carry a certain amount of weed for personal use.
According to Article 299 of the Peruvian Penal Code, you can legally carry eight grams of marijuana or two grams of its derivatives (derivatives presumably including hashish), for “your own and immediate consumption.”
So, according to the written law, as long as you aren’t in possession of more than eight grams of marijuana — and you make it clear that it’s for personal use and not for sale — you cannot be arrested. If you prefer to think in ounces, then a quarter ounce of weed (7 grams) is fine, but a half ounce (14 grams) is not.
Things to Remember When You’re Smoking Marijuana in Peru
It’s important to note, however, that “the possession of two or more types of drugs” does constitute a crime. So if you’re caught with four grams of weed and a gram of cocaine, then you could be in some trouble (you can legally be in possession of two grams of coke for personal use in Peru — but, again, not if you’re carrying any other drug at the same time).
Police in Peru are also unpredictable. At best, they may not be fully aware of the ins and outs of the laws of possession. At worst, they might be corrupt. In the latter case, they might apply pressure even if you are in possession of a legal amount, with the intention of extracting some kind of bribe. If you’re sure that you’re carrying a legal amount, it’s best to stand your ground as calmly as possible in these kind of situations.
If you are detained unlawfully, which could last an hour or, in theory, up to 15 days, then seek legal help — and try calling Línea Verde (see below).
Generally speaking, you should:
- Avoid smoking marijuana in public spaces (which can piss off the locals, not just the police)
- Never carry more than eight grams or two grams of derivatives
- Never carry two different types of drug
- Be firm but as polite as possible if faced with police intimidation
- Be careful when buying marijuana (no back alley deals, not shady dealers, no oversized mustaches)
- Never sell marijuana in Peru (especially to minors, which is a serious offense)
Línea Verde is an NGO based in Barranco, Lima. They offer legal help to anyone detained for marijuana possession in Peru (for personal use). You can call Línea Verde on 01 444 1496 and follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lineaverdelima.
Being Caught With Illegal Quantities of Marijuana in Peru
If you’re caught in possession of illegal quantities of marijuana (over eight grams), then your ultimate punishment, if any, depends on various factors. Realistically, possessing slightly more than eight grams — say 10 or 12 — is unlikely to result in any kind of conviction (but there’s no point pushing your luck).
If you’re caught with significant amounts of marijuana, and especially if you’re caught selling it, then you could be facing a charge of tráfico ilícito de drogas (TIF), or illicit trafficking in drugs. If caught in possession of 100 grams or more, then it’s automatically assumed that you’re trafficking. And the punishment for trafficking is eight to 15 years in prison.
Will Marijuana Be Legalized in Peru in the Future?
While the complete legalization of marijuana in Peru is unlikely to happen any time soon, there is an ongoing debate about the legalization of medical marijuana.
In February 2017, the administration of Peru’s President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski officially proposed the legalization of medical marijuana. This followed a police raid on a house in Lima, where a parent group was growing marijuana to make oil to treat children suffering from epilepsy and other diseases.
It remains to be seen if the proposal can pass a largely hostile Congress.