Current Affairs

Is MDMA Legal in Europe?

Written by Robert Hammell

With more than 24 official languages and a population of almost 750 million people, it is difficult to find homogeneity across the continent. This is especially true when it comes to drug laws and what substances are permitted. In general, MDMA is classified as an illicit substance, and is illegal in Europe, However, there are a few pockets where that is not entirely true.[1]

Drug Decriminalization In Europe

While Europe has not fully legalized the use of illicit substances, there are a few pockets that have chosen to decriminalize them for personal consumption. Portugal, The Czech Republic, The Netherlands, and Switzerland are four countries in Europe that took this bold step.[2][3][4][5] Decriminalization is a spectrum, though, and each country has their own, inconsistent rules. For example, The Netherlands has only decriminalized “soft drugs” but it does permit the purchasing of substances like cannabis or hallucinogenic truffles. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Switzerland has gone so far as to distribute heroin in cases of severe addiction.[6] Both Portugal and The Czech Republic fall in the middle, allowing personal possession but not the sale or distribution of any drugs.

Where Does MDMA Fit?

Though The Netherlands allows easier access to soft drugs, MDMA sale, use, and possession is strictly prohibited. In both Portugal and The Czech Republic, MDMA possession for personal use is seen has a health concern, and instead of criminal action individuals will receive advice on drug treatment programs. Buying and selling may still be met with more aggressive punishment, but the purpose is intended to arrest trafficker and distributors, not users. Switzerland’s status is far more complicated.[7] It is possible for manufacturers and importers to receive licenses for MDMA, but it is a complex bureaucracy that does not apply to most users. While the government does not officially authorize medicinal psychedelic use, there are instances where individuals have been given access to MDMA with a prescription and under the supervision of a doctor.



Reference List
1. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2016). Recent changes in Europe’s MDMA/ecstasy market. Luxembourg Publication Office of the European Union.

2. RÊGO, X., OLIVEIRA, M.J., LAMEIRA, C. et al. 20 years of Portuguese drug policy – developments, challenges and the quest for human rights. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy 16, 59 (2021).

3. Belackova, V., & Stefunkova, M. (2018). Interpreting the Czech drug decriminalization: The glass is half full – Response to Cerveny, J., Chomynova, P., Mravcik, V., & van Ours, J.C. (2017). Cannabis decriminalization and the age of onset of cannabis use. International Journal of Drug Policy, 52, 102–105.

4. Ministerie van Justitie en Veiligheid. (2022, February 2). Drugs.

5. Fedlex. (n.d.).

6. Ochsenbein, G. (2020, June 7). ‘Without the heroin programme I’d probably be dead.’SWI swissinfo.ch

7. Haymann, D., & Donauer, D. (2022, November 21). Legal Framework for the Use of Psychedelics in Switzerland. MLL News Portal.

About the author

Robert Hammell