Marijuana is illegal in Iceland. The consumption, possession, transportation, cultivation, and sale of marijuana – even in small amounts – could land offenders in jail. While marijuana possession isn’t strictly enforced, first-time offenders will face heavy fines.
The penalties depend on the amount of marijuana an offender is caught in possession of. First-time offenders in possession of not more than one gram of marijuana will be required to pay 35,000 kroner. Possession of more than .5 kg of marijuana, on the other hand, will land an offender at least three months in jail.
Transportation of marijuana into Iceland is also strictly prohibited and custom officials are vigilant about checking tourists’ suitcases for illegal substances brought into the country. Tourists caught bringing marijuana into Iceland will face months of imprisonment, or even years, if a large amount of the substance is involved.
Despite this, however, the United Nations’ 2014 World Drug Report named Iceland as having the largest per capita population of cannabis smokers in the world. To be more specific, 18.3% of Icelanders from ages 15 to 65 smoke weed. The United States placed only second.
The use of medical cannabis in Iceland is still prohibited, but there are already a few types of marijuana-based pharmaceuticals allowed. These include Sativex, which may be prescribed by approved neurosurgeons to patients who are suffering from muscular dystrophy.
Proposal to legalize marijuana
In September, MP Pawel Bartoszek proposed a bill to legalize marijuana for adult use. The proposed legislation will put a framework of rules in place related to the decriminalization of the consumption, cultivation, production, handling, and sales of marijuana.
The proposed legislation also provides that the minimum allowable age for marijuana use is 20 years old. Moreover, small scale retail will be permitted, as well as the sale of marijuana in special cannabis restaurants. These special restaurants, however, will not be allowed to serve alcohol.
Moreover, the bill provides that marijuana will be sold in a gray packaging with a simple message containing information about the product – including the producer’s name, the name of the product, a description of its contents, and a warning of its potential harmful effects. Moreover, there will be a total ban on all sorts of marijuana product advertisements.
The bill also suggests a marijuana fee, just like the one that alcohol manufacturers and importers pay.
The bill will be up for discussion in Iceland’s Parliament.
Bartoszek has clearly expressed optimism that the bill will be received positively, although he is also realistic and knows that there are those who are against marijuana. He said that while he is getting plenty of support for his proposed marijuana legislation, there are also a lot of people who are very vocal about their opinion that legalizing the substance is a bad idea. However, according to him, conflicting positions like this is just normal in any democratic society.
Bartoszek said that, at this point, he is still not certain whether citizens will give the bill the level of support it needs towards the full legalization of marijuana. He feels, though, that marijuana reform is something that Icelanders have been wanting to see. He added that he heard people would like some form of decriminalization as first approach. Yet, he believes that the legalization of marijuana is a more effective solution compared to decriminalization.
Furthermore, Bartoszek said he hopes that the bill becomes an icebreaker that will spur the discussion on marijuana and that it will ultimately help stop the punishment of those who consume marijuana. He noted that each year, over 1,000 people in the country are being prosecuted for marijuana-related matters.