Have you ever wondered about cannabis legislation in Europe? Which countries have made cannabis legal and which ones have restrictive policies in place? Well, here is a continuation of the overview of the various cannabis laws in effect in different countries in Europe.
The Netherlands has progressive policies in place as far as cannabis is concerned. Possession of 6 grams of cannabis or less is legal for use in coffee shops, while possession of that same amount of cannabis for public use has been decriminalized. And while the cultivation of up to five cannabis plants is also decriminalized, the plants are still generally destroyed if they are discovered by authorities.
Licensed coffee shops can legally sell cannabis, but outside of these premises, sale of cannabis is illegal. Cannabis is also permitted for medical use, and pharmacies can even deliver medicinal grade cannabis to patients. The official wholesaler of medicinal cannabis in the country is the Office of Medicinal Cannabis.
Portugal became the very first country in the world to decriminalize all drugs in 2001. The law, however, maintained the illegal status for the use and possession of any drug for personal use in the absence of an authorization. However, the offense was changed from being a criminal one that is possibly punishable by imprisonment to an administrative one, provided that the amount possessed constitutes only up to 10 days’ worth of supply of the substance. Authorities are required to aggressively target drug addicts for community service or therapy, instead of for waivers or fines. Despite there being no criminal penalties, Portugal’s reform still did not legalize drug use in the country. The possession of drugs still remains prohibited under the law and drug growers, traffickers, and dealers are still subject to criminal penalties.
Meanwhile, summons will be issued to individuals who are caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis and the substance will be confiscated. Offenders will be interviewed by the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction, which is made up of a lawyer, a social worker, and a psychiatrist. The commission exercises the same powers as an arbitration committee, but these are restricted to cannabis-related cases, including the possession of small quantities of cannabis. Each of the country’s 18 districts has its own dissuasion commission.
Under new provisions of two Romanian narcotic laws, medical patients can get authorization to use cannabis derivatives to alleviate pain. Cannabis derivatives can be used in the treatment of certain medical conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Manufacturers can apply for approval from the National Agency for Medicines to market drugs that contain cannabis by-products. However, possession and use of cannabis for either recreational or medicinal use is still currently outlawed.
In Serbia, it is now legal to use certain cannabis-based products, like Dronabinol, Nabilone and Nabiximols, which were legalized in January 2016. Serbia has listed down registered medical professionals allowed to prescribe these drugs to those who they believe need it. Meanwhile, cannabis for recreational use is still illegal.
The government re-classified cannabinoids in 2013 from being Class I to Class II illegal drugs, which means cannabinoid-based drugs – and not the marijuana plant itself – are allowed for medical use. Possession of any drug in small one-time amounts for personal use is considered decriminalized as it is no longer deemed a criminal act but just a misdemeanour subject to a €42 – €210 fine. The amount of fines can be further reduced if the offender commits to undergo treatment.
Selling and transporting cannabis of any quantity is a criminal offense here and punishable by imprisonment. However, the purchase, possession and use of cannabis in a public place is merely considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by confiscation and a fine. Moreover, the cultivation and consumption of cannabis in a private place is legally permitted. But growing a cannabis plant in a public place or somewhere that can be seen from the street is considered a serious administrative offense and is subject to a €600 – €30,000 fine. All other actions related to cannabis aside from trade and sale are not criminal offenses but are normally just misdemeanors that are fined.
There are around 500 privately owned “cannabis clubs,” mainly in Barcelona. Meanwhile, doctors can prescribe Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone) to cancer patients suffering from chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, as well as Sativex to help treat several diseases.
Since September 2012, the possession of under 10 grams of marijuana is no longer a criminal infringement, yet it s still subject to a flat fine of 100 Swiss francs. Meanwhile, trade and possession of cannabis and even the possession of cannabis in a quantity that can affect the health of many others are punishable by 1 – 3 years imprisonment, which can be cumulated with a fine. Dronabinol is rarely used here since there is only one pharmacy legally permitted to sell it and it is still imported from Germany. What’s more, you will need a special permit from the health ministry to use this.