Although medical marijuana is becoming increasingly available in Europe, cannabis is still banned in most EU countries for personal use.
Germany has gone one step further to become the second EU country after Malta to legalize cannabis for recreational use, which could encourage other countries to follow suit.
But in most of Europe, cannabis is still illegal, and some EU countries still have legal penalties, including jail time for marijuana possession.
And while some countries are piloting medical marijuana, which is becoming more widely available across the bloc, some say the European market has taken longer to grow than the United States or Canada.
malt currently has more tolerant legislation EU regarding the cultivation, consumption and storage of cannabis.
Under legislation passed in 2021, adults can carry up to 7 grams of cannabis with them and grow up to four plants at home. However, smoking marijuana in public places is still illegal.
However, Germany may soon have the most liberal laws in the bloc, as The Cabinet of Ministers of the country approved plans for legalization storing 25 grams of cannabis for personal use and growing up to three plants. Legislators in the Bundestag have yet to vote for this law.
Although it is often considered Holland In a country where marijuana is calm, its cultivation, sale and possession are illegal. Its sale is “tolerant” in the country’s famous coffee houses, and possession of no more than 5 grams of cannabis is decriminalized.
IN PortugalSince 2001, marijuana has been decriminalized, and the use and possession of small amounts is considered an administrative offense. IN Spainprivate consumption is not prohibited, but is considered a violation of the public and is punishable by a fine.
IN Luxembourgprivate consumption is allowed, as well as the cultivation of four cannabis plants as of this year, and the possession of cannabis in public places is decriminalized.
Although several EU countries have already decriminalized the drug, it is still punishable by imprisonment in some parts of the EU.
According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addictions (EMCDDA), cannabis laws are often linked to the amount of the psychoactive substance delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Medical marijuana pilot programs
Cannabis for medical use is becoming increasingly available in European countries, but the market is still in its infancy.
Some countries have launched government pilot programs that could lead to increased access to medical marijuana, several studies of which have shown some therapeutic benefits for patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), and chronic pain, among others.
It entered into force in 2018 Denmark a pilot program that allows doctors to prescribe products that were not previously legal in the country.
“The goal of the pilot program is to offer patients a legal way to try medical cannabis treatment if they have not benefited from licensed drugs.” noted the government.
IN IrelandIn 2019, a five-year pilot program was launched to facilitate access to cannabis products for medical use. It is intended for use in patients with multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, and severe epilepsy.
France it also launched a medical cannabis pilot project in 2021, and the government’s medicines agency is now defining more specific rules for the future of French medical marijuana production.
Although medical marijuana can be prescribed by a doctor in many countries, it can still be very limited, as some countries import small quantities of available medical products or do not have a storage program.
Moreover, being in Czech Republic And in Germany patients may be reimbursed for the cost of medical cannabis, in other countries the costs are solely the responsibility of the patient.
The medical director of Curaleaf International, a medical marijuana company, wrote this year in European Pharmaceutical Journal Please note that Europe has lagged behind Canada, Australia and the United States on this issue.
“In many countries, medical cannabis is used as a therapy only when licensed drugs have proven ineffective,” Mikael Sodergren wrote.
European Parliament approved resolution in 2019 calling for a pan-European regulation on medical cannabis and more scientific research on it.
Changes in the international legal status
The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted in 2020 to remove cannabis from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, where it was classified along with opioids and heroin.
Schedule IV drugs are subject to further controls, including a ban on the “manufacture, manufacture, export and import, trade, possession or use of any such drug”, and are considered to have no therapeutic benefit.
The removal of cannabis from this list has opened the international door to recognition of its possible medical uses.
The only EU country that voted against deleting cannabis from Schedule IV of the 1961 convention was Hungary.
This year the European Commission even went to Hungary before the EU Court of Justice regarding this vote, saying that it contradicts the bloc’s position.
Hungary it is one of the few EU countries where cannabis remains illegal for both recreational and medical use.
But even in areas where doctors can prescribe medical marijuana, access may be limited.
IN SwedenFor example, for recreational use, there is no difference between hard and soft drugs, which means that cannabis and heroin are classified as drugs, and the country has a zero-tolerance drug policy.
Medical marijuana is only legal under certain circumstances approved by the Swedish Medical Products Agency and a physician.
However, laws have changed in recent decades to be more lenient towards drugs in general, with countries lowering penalties for possession and becoming more open to possible medical or therapeutic uses.