The Legal Status of Cannabis in The European Union

The utilization of cannabis (planting, shipping, and selling the drug in EU countries) has independent laws in every sovereign nation belonging to this continent, depending on culture, general approach, and other aspects. Have a glance at the new legal status of cannabis in the European Union to be aware of the recent changes.

legal situation of cannabis in the European union

For instance, in some countries, personal use is decriminalized. However, some of the authorities simply do not put charges on individuals carrying personal substance. Planting, sale, and transport of the plant are more sensitive and criminalized by law, as this article will further explain. 

Terminologies of legality regarding cannabis and other drugs
The terms ‘depenalization‘, ‘decriminalization,’ and ‘legalization‘ are familiar in the drug control banter. These terms are quickly distinguished as follows. 

Depenalization: Cannabis remains illegal, but the offender may have to pay minor penalties such as community service or fines rather than jail time.

Decriminalization: An offense is reclassified from criminal to non-criminal. It remains an offense and may be punished by the police or other agencies, rather than a court.

Legalization: It’s a move from a prohibited behavior (criminal or not) to a permitted behavior. It removes all legal prohibitions against cannabis.

The Culture of Cannabis: European vs. American

Colorado in the USA represents the leading place of the modern cannabis legalization development. Ironically at the hour of writing, Denver just so happens to place amongst the sketchiest spots on earth to set outburst a joint. 

Both recreational and medicinal marijuana is legal to utilize in the US, but the demon, as usual, is in the parts. It grimly translates to absolutely no on-premises cannabis use, extending a couple of hundred meters outside legal dispensaries. Take your sh*t, and the split is the defacto system. It might be challenging to find a social atmosphere to enjoy fine connoisseur grade cannabis. For cannabis tourists, this can be a genuine headache. Most resorts in the State of Colorado ban smoking and vaping on the premises. 

Not all European countries have passed progressive legislation and embraced the commoditization of cannabis. However, if you are planning cannabis well-disposed occasion and need many options to enjoy marijuana socially, Europe is the continent to visit. 

European Countries Where Only The Use of Medical Cannabis is Allowed

UK

As the UK is no more an extended part of the European Union, it is essential to refer to its cannabis legislation status. Besides, the country is the world’s biggest exporter of the plant, either legally with medicinal cannabis, or illegally with unlawful production. 

In detail, cannabis use in the UK is illegal, but individuals carrying personal substances are usually fined a small amount or given a warning. Carrying massive amounts or selling, planting, and transporting the plant can mean year sentences in prison. However, products containing CBD or cannabinoids with less of 0.2 THC concentration are legal for medicinal purposes. 

Germany

Since 2017, patients with a severe illness that has been untreatable by all other treatment methods and who have gotten a doctor’s prescription can use cannabis for medical purposes. However, people need to purchase cannabis and its products from pharmacies only. 

Greece

Greece legalized medical cannabis in 2017. Nevertheless, as of April 2019, no companies had favorably gotten all three licenses needed for the profession. Therefore the plan is not yet operational. However, there are high expectations that it will swift ahead by April 2020. 

Denmark

A four-year test case program that offers patients access to legal, medical cannabis propelled in January of 2018. Furthermore, there were over 2,000 patients as of April 2019. According to MJBizDaily, “the country’s business-accommodating, patient-driven medical marijuana project is one of Europe’s most resolved policies.” 

Finland

Cannabis for medical usages has been legal in the nation since 2008. However, all claims for permission are on a case by case basis, and hardly any patients get access to the minimum products allowed in the program. 

Besides, these countries have also legalized medical cannabis to some extent for patients within their borders. 

  • Cyprus 
  • Ireland 
  • Norway 
  • Poland 
  • Romania 
  • San Marino 
  • Turkey 
  • Lithuania 
  • North Macedonia 

Explore Frequently Asked Questions about cannabis seed banks.

European Countries Where Cannabis is Medically Legal, Decriminalized or Usually Overlooked

Several nations in Europe have authorized cannabis for medical purposes and reformed their cannabis laws for personal retail use. How about we look at countries where marijuana has been decriminalized for more than just therapeutic objectives. 

France

In June of 2013, the production of medicinal products from marijuana plant derivatives got its legal status in the country. The products are just obtainable by patients who have a prescription and don’t have other treatment options. Moreover, the National Medical Safety Agency must allow any cannabis and its products. 

As of November 2018, the authority reduced the punishment from a criminal charge to a 200 euro fine for possessing cannabis without the proper prescription. 

Italy

In late 2014, the Italian Army started growing marijuana at a military facility in Florence. Then, the production of medical cannabis developed throughout the following years. Patients in the country can get a proposal to use medical cannabis for a few specific diseases and conditions. 

Furthermore, it includes persistent pain, Glaucoma, vomiting, cancer treatments, anorexia, AIDS, appetite problems, and involuntary movements in patients influenced by Tourette syndrome. 

Furthermore, non-medical cannabis use is decriminalized for products containing less than 0.6% THC, even for religious use. However, the punishment for personal use and small possession is typically a fine rather than criminal charges. As of late, Italy legalized cultivation for personal use. 

Netherlands

In 2003, licensed medical cannabis products by the name “Mediwiet” had been available by prescription. At present, there are five weed products legal for medical practice in the country by approved patients. One of them is essentially a CBD product with very small to no THC content. 

Since 1972, when the Dutch government classified cannabis as a less-dangerous drug, nearly 30 grams of possession is a crime. They may allow the possession of fewer than 5 grams for personal use, which is decriminalized. Since 1976, Dutch coffee shops have sold marijuana and cannabis-infused products for recreational use. 

Spain

Spain had enacted a law in 2015 that consuming cannabis in private spaces is decriminalized. It means that as long as you have a small quantity and just consume in private places, it is legal. Residents can also grow a limited number of plants as long as they live far out of the general community. Also, they should produce it in their private spaces. However, selling or trafficking cannabis can draw severe punishment for all offenders. 

With that said, medical cannabis is just right now legal in one district, and that is Catalonia. Here, the program propelled in 2005 consists of six hospitals, 60 drugstores, 40 researchers, and just 600 patients. Furthermore, medical cannabis products are high in CBD, and it should not contain any THC. 

Switzerland

Medical cannabis is legal in the country. However, just a single product is legal for sale, and that is Sativex. A doctor must authorize all patients requesting to use Sativex before being ready to buy, possess, or use cannabis. 

Furthermore, the possession of 10 grams or less marijuana may result in a small fine instead of criminal charges since 2012. In 2017, the federal court marked this punishment and concluded that the possession of the plant is legal and that the consumption of cannabis is a fineable offense. 

Besides, these countries have legalized medical cannabis to some extent for patients within their borders. 

  • Moldova 
  • Belgium 
  • Georgia 
  • Slovenia 
  • Luxembourg
  • Croatia 
  • Portugal 
  • Estonia 
  • Malta 
  • Austria 

European Countries Where There is (Almost) Zero Tolerance for Cannabis

Moving forward to the other countries in Europe, it is still highly illegal to buy, possess, sell, or gift cannabis. It includes Albania, Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, Iceland, Kosovo, Monaco, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Sweden, and Vatican City.

CBD in Europe

CBD is legal across almost all European countries. However, there are some exemptions. The European Union regards CBD as a novel food and strives to limit access to CBD products. Although laws are changing, the European CBD market continues to develop as many new CBD brands enter the market each month. However, the laws around CBD are strict. 

Apart from that, in January 2019, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) published guidance on cannabinoid-infused edible products, stating that products, including CBD, must be certified as a novel food by a National Food Authority. European Commission (EC) considers extracts of cannabis Sativa L. and products comprising cannabinoids as novel foods.

CBD Flowers in European Market

The CBD flower market in Europe is mostly around hemp. Under EU law, hemp is classified as cannabis with less than 0.2% THC by dry weight. Legally, it must also be from the variety of seeds that the European Union approves. You can see that list here. One can grow approved hemp under license in most of Europe. In lab testing, it must hold under 0.2% THC, or they will destroy it. 

Besides, some countries have higher THC limits – most notably Switzerland (1%), Italy (.6%), and Austria (.3%). In some places, in an offer to stay within the law, hemp flower often makes its way as tea, or only ‘not for consumption’ product. 

Industrial Hemp in Europe

It is legal to produce and sell marijuana plants for hemp fiber in the European territory if it comprises low THC content. The allowing of payments under the Common Agricultural Policy is subject to the use of certified seeds of specified hemp types. Moreover, varieties with a THC content of less than 0.2 % is legal under EU Regulation 1307/2013.

Therefore, they allow payments distinctly for areas sown with varieties of hemp offering certain guarantees concerning their psychotropic content. There is a method for the measurement of hemp types and the affirmation of their THC content. Besides, imports of hemp are subject to specific provisions to guarantee the previously mentioned THC limit under EU Regulation 1308/2013.

The Legal Status of Cannabis in The European Union Recently

Cannabis-related regulations are indeed advancing in various directions these days. Here is a quick review of the various legal perspectives to give you a final outline of the current laws and expectations. 

Recreational Marijuana —
Current status: Illegal in every country within Europe.
Bias: Strict policies are decreasing, some countries are thinking about decriminalization, some even about legalization.

Medical Marijuana —
Current status: Legal in most of the European countries.
Bias: Authorities are more and more open to medical cannabis.

Industrial Hemp —
Current status: Legal in every country within Europe.
Bias: It has been legal for many years, and looks that way for the coming days.

CBD —
Current status: Legal in almost every European country.
Bias: Authorities may implement strict policies.

In a Nutshell

We got a ton of no’s, and a ton of yes’ to the question is weed legal in Europe. Although most of those yes’ were just about medical weed, it’s essential to recall the ever-increasing shift in the general popular’s opinion on these matters. 

This study provided a review of legislative approaches to cannabis across EU part states. There is no standard approach to targeting cannabis offenses. Furthermore, there are considerable disparities in the illustration of how countries discern laws and penalties for cannabis sale or use. 

For legislative purposes, EU states either treat all drugs the same way or view cannabis offenses as less severe. Or, in some vicious cases, they should enforce harsher penalties. In the previous two decades, almost half of the EU part states altered legislation that targeted cannabis use. 

The impact on cannabis use is uncertain, as no scientific evaluations determine the legislative changes’ effectiveness. Until now, cannabis policy is the topic of ongoing discussion throughout the EU part states, and the EMCDDA is monitoring its advancement.

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