Cannabis Laws & Scheduling in Europe
Please note, any European country not listed below has strictly prohibited the cultivation, possession, sale and transportation of any amount of cannabis.
As of January 2016, possession and purchase of up to 5 grams of cannabis for personal use is decriminalized and offenders will not be punished, given that they cooperate with the health authority and undergo therapy.
Cultivation, sale and transport of small quantities (<200g) are punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment. Sale is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment, or up to 1 year if the perpetrator is addicted.
Sale, transport and cultivation of larger quantities (>200g) are punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, or up to 3 years if the perpetrator is addicted.
Regardless of a criminal conviction, anyone caught with cannabis by the police may have their driving license revoked unless they show prolonged abstinence from cannabis in several supervised urine tests.
Cannabis is considered a drug if it contains more than 0.3% of THC, if less, it’s legal.
In Austria, Nabilone (synthetic cannabinoid) is marketed as Canemes and got its approval for CINV in 2013.
Since 2003, adults in Belgium over the age of 18 are allowed to possess up to 3 grams of cannabis and grow up to one cannabis plant on privately-owned property. The sale and transportation of cannabis remains illegal.
The use of Dronabinol and Nabilone is permitted in Belgium as treatment for Glaucoma. Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS and Chronic Pain.
As of 15 October 2015, the Croatian Ministry of Health has officially legalized the use of cannabis-based drugs for medical purposes for patients with illnesses such as cancer, multiple sclerosis or AIDS.
The possession of small (undetermined) amount of marijuana is a misdemeanour which leads to a fine of 5000–20000kn (£500–£2,100) depending on the case in question.
The possession of up to fifteen grams of cannabis for personal use or cultivation of up to five plants is a misdemeanour subject to minor fine.
The medical use of cannabis on prescription has been legal and regulated since 1 April 2013.
Estonia has decriminalised possession of a small amount of any illicit drug, including cannabis.
The law defines a big amount of any drug as sufficient to cause intoxication in ten people, which, in the case of cannabis, the authorities currently choose to interpret as 7.5 grams or more of dried flowers.
80–90% of non-criminal drug offenders are fined, 10–20% are arrested for up to 30 days.
Sale, transport and cultivation of psychoactive cannabis remain criminal offences in the country.
Medical use of cannabis has technically been legal since 2005, yet up until 2016, only one Estonian patient had been prescribed cannabis-based medicine (nabiximols) for cancer pain.
Estonia has the highest mortality rate from illegal drug users (age 18-64) in the world.
Around 200 Finnish citizens are permitted to purchase Nabiximols and/or Bedrocan (cannabis-based products) from one of 27 pharmacies in the country, for purely medicinal purposes.
The possession, sale, transport and cultivation of cannabis outside of this small group of individuals remains illegal.
Cultivating, selling, owning or consuming cannabis is prohibited in France However, legislation permitting the sale of medications containing cannabis derivatives was enacted in June 2013.
It is possible to get an authorisation from the French Security Agency for Health Products to use health products that are not authorised on the French market. 74 such authorisations have been delivered for Marinol (dronabinol) for a range of different diseases, including pain, appetite loss, nausea, Tourette’s syndrome, dystonia and inflammatory diseases of the nervous system.
The possession of cannabis is illegal, while consumption itself is legal on the basis of it being considered self-harm, which is not considered a crime. The possession of small amounts is prosecuted, but charges are virtually always dropped. The definition of this “small amount” varies depending on the federal state, the state of Berlin being the most liberal, allowing 15 grams for personal use in most cases, while most states do not prosecute up to 6 grams.
It is also possible to obtain a special permission by the “Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices” to obtain, possess and consume cannabis as a part of medically supervised and accompanied self-therapy.
By January 2015, 382 patients have obtained such a permission. Furthermore, cannabis cultivation and possession can be permitted to scientific institutions or administrative bodies. Pharmacies can obtain a special permission to sell cannabis or cannabis based medication to patients with a permission.
In May 2016, German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe stated the country intended to legalize medical cannabis from 2017.
The possession, sale, transportation and cultivation remains illegal in Ireland.
However, in November 2015, the government announced that it would move towards decriminalising cannabis, cocaine and heroin for personal use.
Possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use is a misdemeanour subject to fines and the suspension of documents. The sale of cannabis products is illegal and punishable by imprisonment; cultivation is likewise punishable by imprisonment, even if in small amounts and for exclusive personal use. Licensed cultivation for medical and industrial use is strictly regulated.
Bedrocan can be obtained via import through hospital pharmacies, under the condition that a statement from a doctor on the lack of treatment options in the Italian territory is provided.
In September 2014, a protocol was approved by various ministries for an Italian production of cannabis at a reduced price, through the Military Chemical Pharmaceutical Institute, but the procedures have yet to be defined.
Macedonian Health Minister Nikola Todorov announced in May, that the country has set its medical cannabis program in motion and said medical cannabis extracts are expected to become available in pharmacies across the country in mid-2016.
Simple possession of cannabis is officially listed as an “arrestable offense”, however, possession of a minimal amount of drugs for personal consumption is effectively decriminalized.
First-time offenders will be handed fines of between €50 and €100 in the case of cannabis possession. Repeat offenders will appear before a Drug Offenders Rehabilitation Board, headed by the retired Chief of Justice, which will set conditions for rehabilitation. Breaching the conditions would be tantamount to a criminal offence.
Possession of up to six grams of cannabis is legal in the Netherlands for use in coffeeshops, while possession of the same amount is decriminalized for public use.
Cultivation of up to 5 plants is also decriminalized in the Netherlands, but plants are generally still destroyed if discovered by law enforcement.
The sale of cannabis is legal in licensed coffeeshops but remains illegal outside of licensed premises.
Cannabis is allowed for medicinal use in the Netherlands. Cannabis with a medicinal grade is delivered to patients through pharmacies. The Office of Medicinal Cannabis is the official wholesaler in medicinal cannabis. The estimation of patients which use medicinal cannabis through pharmacies is about 500.
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs.
The new law maintained the status of illegality for using or possessing any drug for personal use without authorization. The offense was changed from a criminal one, with prison a possible punishment, to an administrative one if the amount possessed was no more than ten days’ supply of that substance. This was in line with the de facto Portuguese drug policy before the reform.
Drug addicts were then to be aggressively targeted with therapy or community service rather than fines or waivers. Even if there are no criminal penalties, these changes did not legalize drug use in Portugal. Possession has remained prohibited by Portuguese law, and criminal penalties are still applied to drug growers, dealers and traffickers.
Individuals found in possession of small quantities of cannabis are issued summons. The cannabis is confiscated, and the suspect is interviewed by a “Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction” (Comissões para a Dissuasão da Toxicodependência – CDT). These commissions are made up of three people: A social worker, a psychiatrist, and an attorney. The dissuasion commission have powers comparable to an arbitration committee, but restricted to cases involving cannabis use or possession of small amounts of cannabis. There is one CDT in each of Portugal’s 18 districts.
Authorized medical patients in Romania may now use marijuana derivatives to allay their pain under new provisions in two of the country’s narcotic laws.
Currently, possession of marijuana is outlawed throughout the country. Though medicinal and recreational use of the drug itself remain prohibited, derivatives of the plant can now be used to treat certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, cancer and multiple sclerosis.
Manufacturers will also be able to apply to the National Agency for Medicines for approval to market drugs that contain marijuana by-products like resins or plant fragments.
Possession and transporting quantities of up to six grams of cannabis has been decriminalized in Russia, along with the cultivation of up to 20 plants.
However, large fines are still in place to prevent widespread use.
The use of certain cannabis based products are now legal in Serbia. Dronabinol, Nabilone and Nabiximols were officially legalized in January 2016.
The country has a list of registered medical professionals permitted to prescribe these drugs to patients who they believe will benefit. The use of cannabis for recreational purposes remains illegal in Serbia.
In 2013, the Slovenian government re-classified cannabinoids from Class I to Class II illegal drugs, thus allowing the medical use of cannabinoid-based drugs but not the cannabis plant.
Possession of any drug for personal use in small one-time quantities is not a criminal act in Slovenia and thereby considered decriminalized. It is instead a misdemeanour punishable by a fine of €42-€210. This can be reduced further if the offender agrees to treatment.
The sale and transportation of any quantity of cannabis is a criminal offence in Spain, punishable by jail time.
The purchase, possession and consumption of cannabis in a public place constitutes a misdemeanour and is punishable by a fine and confiscation of the product.
Consumption and cultivation by adults in a private space is legal, the latter due to a legal loophole. Cannabis plants that are located somewhere visible from the street/public place are considered a serious administrative offense, which leads to a fine from €600 to €30.000.
About 500 private “cannabis clubs” exist in Spain, 200 of them in Barcelona.
All actions related to cannabis apart from sale or trade aren’t considered criminal offences and are normally considered misdemeanour’s punishable by a fine.
Physicians can prescribe Cesamet (nabilone) and Marinol (dronabinol) against nausea and vomiting in cancer chemotherapy, and Sativex in several diseases.
Since September 2012, the possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis is no longer a criminal infringement, but is still punished by a 100 Swiss francs flat fine.
Professional cannabis trade, as well as the possession of a quantity of cannabis that can affect the health of a large number of people are punished by one to three years of imprisonment that can be cumulated with a fine.
Dronabinol is rarely used in Switzerland since there is only one pharmacy with a permission to sell this synthetic cannabinoid, which is imported from Germany. A special permission from the health ministry is necessary to use Dronabinol, which is currently prescribed to 30 patients in the country.
Possession and transporting quantities of up to five grams of cannabis has been decriminalized in Ukraine, along with the cultivation of up to 10 plants.
However, large fines are still in place to prevent widespread use.
Cannabis is considered a Schedule 1, Class B drug. This is defined as a drug that is thought to have no therapeutic value and therefore cannot be possessed or lawfully prescribed. Drugs placed in Schedule 1 may be used for the purposes of research but require a Home Office granted license.
In the United Kingdom and a person can commit any range of offences relating to cannabis including possession and supply.
However, there is a cannabis-based product – Nabiximols (Sativex) – which can be legally prescribed and supplied in limited circumstances.
In 2006 the Home Office licensed Nabiximols so that:
• Doctors, at their own risk, could privately prescribe this as part of a treatment program for sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
• Pharmacists could possess and dispense, and named patients with a prescription could possess.
In June 2010 the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory products Agency (MHRA) authorised Nabiximols as an extra treatment for patients with spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Doctors can also prescribe it for other things outside of the authorisation, but this is at their own risk.
Since April 2013, Nabiximols has been separated from Cannabis – Schedule 4 now applies instead of the old Home Office licence. However, it is still a Class B drug and so possession, supply, possession with intent to supply, importation and exportation are all still offences outside of this. Re-supply of prescribed medication (except to a person legally allowed to possess it) is unlawful supply.
Additionally, a person who doesn’t disclose, or makes a false statement about, having already been prescribed Nabiximols to get more supplies from another Doctor will not be legally in possession of any drugs they get as a result of failing to disclose or making a false statement.
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