Get to know more about cannabis legislation in Europe. In which countries in Europe is cannabis legal, and in which ones is it still an illicit drug?
This is just an overview of cannabis laws in certain European countries. We have already started with Croatia, Austria, Belgium, Germany and France in part 1 of this series.
Let us continue with the UK, Italy, Ireland, Finland, Czech Republic, Malta, Ukraine, and Russia.
In the UK, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1, Class B drug, which means that it is considered a drug without any therapeutic value and thus cannot be lawfully prescribed and possessed. Schedule 1 drugs, however, may be used for research purposes but need a license from the Home Office.
The cannabis-based product Nabiximols (Sativex) can be prescribed and supplied legally in limited circumstances. The Home Office licensed Nabiximols in 2006 so that doctors could privately prescribe it, at their own risk, as part of a treatment program for multiple sclerosis patients, and so that pharmacists could dispense and sell to patients with a prescription. Then, in June 2010, the MHRA or Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Products Agency authorized Nabiximols as extra treatment for those suffering from spasticity in MS. And in April 2013, Nabiximols was separated from cannabis and Schedule 4 now applies. However, it is still classified as a Class B drug, therefore the supply, possession, importation, and exportation of Nabiximols remain to be a legal offence.
The possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use is considered a misdemeanour, and is therefore subject to fines and suspension of documents. Moreover, selling and cultivation of cannabis is illegal and is punishable by imprisonment, even if you are caught with only small amounts. Licensed cultivation for industrial and medical purposes is strictly regulated.
One can obtain Bedrocan – a cannabis-based product – through hospital pharmacies (via import), but a doctor’s statement on the lack of other treatment options available within the Italian territory is required.
In September 2014, various ministries approved a protocol for the production of cannabis at a lesser price, via the Military Chemical Pharmaceutical Institute, yet procedures still need to be defined.
The possession, cultivation, sale, and transportation of cannabis remain illegal in the country. In November 2015, however, the Irish government announced that it is moving towards decriminalising cannabis for personal use, together with heroin and cocaine.
A relatively small group of around 200 Finnish citizens have been allowed to buy Nabiximols and/or Bedrocan for purely medicinal purposes. However, outside of this group, the possession, cultivation, sale, and transport of cannabis remain illegal.
In Czech Republic, anyone caught in possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana for personal use or anyone caught cultivating up to five marijuana plants is considered to have committed a misdemeanour and is therefore subject to a minor fine.
However, since April 2013, the use of marijuana for medical purpose – and as long as it is with prescription – has been legal, but regulated.
The simple possession of marijuana is listed as an “arrestable offense,” but possession of a small amount of drugs for personal use is effectively decriminalized. For first-time offenders of cannabis possession, they will be fined between €50 and €100. Meanwhile, repeat offenders will need to appear before the Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board, which will then set the conditions for rehabilitation. A breach of any of these conditions is considered to be a criminal offense.
In Ukraine, the possession and transportation of up to 5 grams of cannabis and the cultivation of at most 10 cannabis plants have been decriminalized. However, to prevent the widespread use of the substance, large penalties are still in place.
Possession and transportation of up to 6 grams of marijuana has been decriminalised here. One can also legally grow up to 20 cannabis plants. Going beyond these limits still subject one to large fines. This is the government’s way of preventing widespread use of cannabis.
There’s more! Click here to read the last installment of this series!