We have talked about cannabis laws in the U.S. and in its various states in a number of articles. Now, it is time we shift our focus to Europe and learn more about the marijuana-related policies of certain European nations. How progressive are countries in Europe when it comes to their cannabis legislation?
Here is an overview of cannabis laws in certain European countries. In Part 1, let us talk about France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Croatia.
Cannabis is a prohibited substance in France and cultivating, selling, possessing, and using it is a criminal offense. However, since June 2013, a legislation was enacted that permitted the sale of cannabis compound-containing medication. The French Security Agency for Health Products can give authorization to those who need to use health products otherwise not allowed on the market, including Marinol (dronabinol), which is used in the treatment of diseases like appetite loss, pain, nausea, Tourette’s syndrome, inflammatory diseases to the nervous system, and dystonia.
Cannabis consumption is not a crime on the basis that it is considered self-harm. However, possession of small amounts of cannabis is illegal and therefore prosecuted, yet charges are almost always dropped. As to how small a “small amount” is, it depends on the federal state. The most liberal is the state of Berlin, which allows for 15 grams for personal use. Most of the other states, on the other hand, allow only up to 6 grams. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices grants special permission for one to possess, obtain, and cannabis for use in a medically supervised self-therapy.
Moreover, administrative bodies and scientific institutions are permitted to cultivate and possess cannabis, while pharmacies may obtain a special permit to sell marijuana or marijuana-based medication to patients who also have a permit.
According to Germany’s health minister, Hermann Gröhe, the country intends to legalize medical marijuana starting 2017.
In Belgium, adults over 18 years old are permitted to possess up to 3.0 grams of cannabis and to grow one cannabis plant on a property that is privately-owned. This law has been in effect since 2003. However, the sale and the transportation of the substance have remained illegal until now. The use of Nabilone and Dronabinol is also allowed for treatment of glaucoma, AIDS, chronic pain, and spasticity related to multiple sclerosis.
As of January 2016, Austria has decriminalized the possession and the purchase of cannabis for personal use – but only up to 5 grams. Offenders who are caught using cannabis won’t be punished if they cooperate with the country’s health authority and submit themselves to therapy.
On the other hand, those who are caught for cultivation, transport, and sale of small quantities or of less than 200 grams of marijuana are punished with up to a year of imprisonment. Selling cannabis is punishable by up to three years in prison, or up to a year in prison if the offender is addicted. Meanwhile, the cultivation, transport, and sale of more than 200 grams of cannabis are punishable by up to five years in prison, or up to three years if the offender is addicted.
The police may also revoke the driving license of anyone caught with marijuana, regardless of criminal conviction, unless they show abstinence from the substance in a number of supervised urine tests.
Marijuana containing more than 0.3% of THC is considered a drug, but if it contains less, it is considered legal.
In Austria, synthetic cannabinoid Nabilone is being marketed as Canemes and was approved for CINV (Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting) in 2013.
The Croatian Ministry of Health has legalized since October 2015 the use of cannabis-based drugs for treatment of illnesses like cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. Meanwhile, the possession of a small amount of cannabis is considered a misdemeanour that requires a fine of £500-£2,100.
For the rest of the countries in Europe and their marijuana laws, head on to part 2!