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While neighboring countries are considering the legalization of recreational cannabis, France has introduced a new policy allowing immediate cash or card payments for fines related to cannabis consumption, as announced by President Emmanuel Macron.
Macron recently revealed a modification in the fine payment procedure for cannabis consumption. This change enables individuals who are fined by the police for cannabis use to pay the officer directly at the scene, either in cash or by card, similar to the existing process for certain traffic violations.
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The legal status of cannabis in Austria is intricate due to the ambiguous nature of its laws. While the recreational use of cannabis is officially prohibited, it’s estimated that between 30% and 40% of Austrian youth, aged 15 to 24, have consumed the substance. Herbal cannabis is the most frequently confiscated drug in the nation, with hashish following closely behind.
Since 2016, cannabis consumption has been removed from the criminal code, essentially decriminalizing personal use of the substance. However, possession can still result in a fine or a jail term of up to six months, and the intent to distribute, or possession of large quantities, can lead to significantly more severe punishments.
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In Armenia, the growth, sale, and ownership of cannabis for recreational use is prohibited by law.
Despite the illegality of marijuana in Armenia, the plant is found growing naturally within the country.
The use of cannabis is not rare, and due to Armenia’s role as a transit route for drugs originating from Asia, hashish and marijuana are relatively easy to locate.
However, it’s important to note that even possession of minor amounts of cannabis can result in incarceration.
The Aland islands are part of Finland where cannabis is officially illegal however In 2001, the legal process concerning personal consumption of illicit drugs underwent a transformation. This modification aimed to alleviate the courts from the pressure of handling personal use cases, accelerate the implementation of laws, and unify the enforcement strategies.
Despite Azerbaijan’s extensive history of utilizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, the trade, consumption, and ownership of cannabis remain prohibited in the country.
Individuals caught with less than 10 grams are typically deemed to be engaging in personal drug use. Rather than facing prosecution, they are usually handed over to their families for possible treatment of drug addiction.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, both medical and recreational use of cannabis is prohibited. Despite recent appeals from legislators and patients for the legalization of medical marijuana, no advancements have been made thus far.
However, licensed farmers are permitted to cultivate industrial hemp for the production of fibers, animal feed, and hemp seeds, provided that the plants contain 0.2% THC or less. Despite this, the processing of the hemp flower is strictly forbidden.
In Belgium, the use of recreational cannabis is illegal, but possession of up to three grams by adults over 18 years old is decriminalized and subject to a fine only. The country operates a restricted medical cannabis program that acknowledges Sativex and CBD.
Despite the illegality of recreational cannabis, law enforcement is relatively lenient. Numerous cannabis social clubs exist across the country, some of which have been around since 2006. These clubs, inspired by similar establishments in Spain, operate through legal loopholes, making them more appealing to locals than tourists.
There is a growing demand for the complete legalization and regulation of cannabis, beyond mere decriminalization. Belgium’s cannabis laws are considered less progressive compared to its neighboring countries, Holland and Luxembourg.
In Bulgaria, both medical and recreational use of cannabis is prohibited. The Narcotic Substances and Precursors Control Act makes the cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana illegal. However, farmers are permitted to grow industrial hemp, provided they have a government-issued license.
In a landmark move in May 2019, Bulgaria became the first member of the European Union to authorize the legal sale of CBD products.
In Belarus, all forms of cannabis, whether for recreational or medical use, are strictly prohibited. The country’s laws forbid the possession, consumption, sale, or distribution of marijuana. Violation of any cannabis-related law in Belarus is met with severe consequences, including potential incarceration.
A novel initiative is being launched to evaluate the health implications of managing marijuana distribution in Basel, a city in Switzerland, with plans to expand to Zurich, Geneva, and Lausanne soon.
Switzerland, a country known for its groundbreaking efforts in prescribing heroin and establishing safe injection facilities, is currently exploring the possibility of legalizing recreational use of cannabis.
Addiction specialists describe the approach as quintessentially Swiss, characterized by a cautious and gradual implementation to gauge the reaction of the populace
In Cyprus, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes is prohibited, however, a medical cannabis program exists. In 2019, the Cypriot legislature passed a law that legalized the possession, import, export, and cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
While recreational use of cannabis remains illegal, medical cannabis is legal but not yet accessible. Industrial hemp is permitted, provided it adheres to the THC limit of 0.2% imposed by the European Union.
Nevertheless, there are organizations such as Legalize It Cyprus advocating for the complete legalization of cannabis. A demonstration supporting this cause took place on April 20, 2017, in the capital city of Nicosia/Lefkoşa.
It’s important to note that Cyprus is recognized for its strict enforcement of drug laws, especially towards tourists.
The government of the Czech Republic has declared its intention to establish a tightly controlled cannabis market within the country. At present, cannabis is legal for restricted personal use, but its sale and distribution are still illegal. The Czech government, however, intends to modify this status quo by implementing a compulsory registration system, yearly charges, and a daily consumption limit.
The German government is progressing towards the legalization of cannabis by unveiling the draft bill for the initial phase of a two-phase model aimed at abolishing prohibition policies.
On July 5, the German Ministry of Health released the much-anticipated draft bill that seeks to regulate personal use of cannabis, home cultivation, and the formation of cannabis growers’ associations, modeled after the structure of cannabis social clubs.
This proposed law represents the first phase of an extensive two-phase model intended to terminate the prohibition of cannabis in the European nation.
In Denmark, cannabis is legal, but solely for medicinal purposes. However, the country’s cannabis laws are contradictory and thus open to different interpretations.
If you’re a visitor in Denmark and curious about whether you can purchase cannabis, the answer is a definitive yes.
Despite the illicit market being prevalent, the consumption of small quantities of cannabis has been decriminalized.
When planning a trip to Estonia, it’s crucial to understand that the government has decriminalized cannabis for personal use. Possession of marijuana is no longer considered a criminal offense, but rather a minor infraction. The maximum permissible quantity of dry cannabis is 7.5 grams; exceeding this limit can lead to legal charges.
It’s important to remember that public consumption of cannabis is not allowed as it can disturb others. Smoking weed in public places, especially near school playgrounds, is strictly prohibited.
If you’re planning a visit to Estonia, familiarizing yourself with the local cannabis laws is essential to avoid any legal complications.
Cannabis legislation in Spain is complex. Cultivating and smoking cannabis for personal use is legal, but selling or trafficking cannabis is not.
Smoking cannabis in public places is also prohibited, although there are “cannabis clubs” where members can consume and buy cannabis.
Spain’s drug laws are unique in that they do not extend to private homes and spaces.
Therefore, if someone grows their own cannabis at home and smokes it there, they are beyond the reach of Spanish law. It’s only when consumption occurs in public or when cannabis is sold to others that legal issues arise.
Finland exhibits a varied stance towards cannabis. In the 18th and 19th centuries, hemp was the primary crop in Finland.
However, the 20th century ushered in prohibition in many countries, including Finland. Currently, recreational use or possession of cannabis is illegal in Finland.
Individuals charged with these offenses are recorded in a police database, which can potentially impede their employment prospects.
Faroe Islands are part of Denmark.
In Denmark, cannabis is legal, but solely for medicinal purposes. However, the country’s cannabis laws are contradictory and thus open to different interpretations.
As of 2023, cannabis remains illegal in the UK for recreational use. It is classified as a Class B drug, and the penalties for production, supply, or possession with intent to supply can range from 6 to 12 months in a magistrate’s court, or up to 14 years in prison and/or a fine if indicted.
There is evidence of some specific police forces not pursuing small scale growers or users, however.
Despite discussions and debates around potential changes to these laws, the government has stated that there are no plans to alter the current legislation.
Medical cannabis has been legalized but it is out of reach by most, with significant growth in the private medical cannabis sector.
In 2017, The Constitutional Court of Georgia decreed that cannabis consumption should be decriminalized, which bolstered the progress of a bill which was under parliamentary review to decriminalize possession of all drugs.
The Constitutional Court later escalated its stance by legalizing the use of cannabis, thereby eliminating any criminal repercussions for personal cannabis use.
The cannabis laws of Guernsey are currently under review, but the current legal status of cannabis is as follows:
Cannabis is a Class B substance under the Misuse of Drugs Law, 1974. This means that it is illegal to cultivate, possess, supply, or import cannabis without a license.
The government of Guernsey is currently considering whether to legalize cannabis for recreational use. A report on the potential social, economic, and health impacts of legalization is due to be published in July 2023.
Gibraltar, a British territory, has authorized the use of medical cannabis in non-smokable forms for conditions such as muscle spasticity, multiple sclerosis, severe epilepsy, significant pain, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, as reported by Vox Gibraltar.
The Gibraltar Health Authority will be responsible for providing these products, although it remains uncertain whether the cannabis will be grown within the territory or imported.
In 2017, Greece witnessed a significant shift in its cannabis laws when a joint decision by the Ministers of Health and Justice led to the legalization of medical marijuana and reclassified cannabis from a Table A to a Table B drug.
The subsequent year, Greek legislators passed a law permitting the cultivation and processing of medical cannabis containing up to 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This was followed in 2021 by the sanctioning of a bill that legalized the cultivation and sale of medical cannabis with THC content exceeding 0.2%.
Prior to these developments, in 2019, Greece had already installed its first CBD vending machine and granted over two dozen licenses for the cultivation and processing of cannabis.
Recreational cannabis, however, remains illegal.
While recreational cannabis remains illegal, Croatia adopts a fairly forward-thinking stance on cannabis regulations.
From 2013 onwards, personal use of cannabis has been classified as a minor offense, attracting a penalty ranging from €650 to €2,600.
The nation took a step further in 2015 by legalizing medical cannabis use. By 2019, Croatia had also sanctioned the growth of hemp for medicinal applications.
In Hungary, the law does not distinguish between cannabis and more potent drugs. In 2017, over half of the drug-related offenses in the country were associated with cannabis. Under Hungarian legislation, both the use and possession of drugs can result in a prison sentence of up to two years.
Despite being the most frequently used illegal substance in Hungary, cannabis consumption among young adults is estimated to be around 3.5%, significantly below the European average.
The country’s stance against cannabis is so strong that it voted against a UN resolution on two occasions that could have facilitated the global acceptance of medical cannabis, contrary to the rest of the European Union.
While the use of cannabis for recreational purposes remains prohibited in Ireland, the country has recently implemented regulations allowing access to certain medical cannabis products for specific health conditions.
Nonetheless, the medical cannabis program encounters several challenges, and patients must receive approval from the Health Ministry to undergo treatment involving medical cannabis.
Cannabis is classified as a “class B” controlled substance, and activities such as importing, exporting, producing, possessing, supplying, or cultivating it can lead to a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
In 2021, the Isle of Man Government enacted legislation that allows the cultivation, production, supply, possession, importation, and exportation of specific medicinal cannabis products under a license.
As of June 2022, the first licenses of this kind have been granted, including a license for a pharmacy to import and distribute certain cannabis-based medicinal products and a preliminary approval for a company to cultivate, extract, manufacture, import, and export medicinal cannabis.
However, the cultivation, production, supply, possession, importation, or exportation of cannabis for recreational purposes continues to be illegal.
In Iceland, cannabis is prohibited, and possession of even small quantities intended for personal use can lead to arrest and fines.
However, the UN World Drug report indicates that the rate of cannabis consumption in Iceland is higher than in most other countries. It’s important to note that smoking in public places can lead to legal consequences.
Keep an eye on this issue, as the Icelandic government is currently deliberating on potential strategies for future cannabis legalization.
Cannabis was decriminalized in Italy in 2016, meaning that possession and use of small quantities are no longer treated as criminal offenses. In 2014, Italy implemented a law that differentiates between drug trafficking and personal drug use.
Under this law, individuals found with small quantities of cannabis for personal use are typically subject to administrative penalties rather than criminal charges. These penalties often involve fines, suspension of documents like passports or driver’s licenses, and compulsory community service.
The specific limits for personal use can differ across various regions within Italy. Possession of larger quantities or distribution can result in a fine of up to 75,000 euros or a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 6 years.
Cannabis is illegal in Jersey, but possession of small amounts for personal use is de facto decriminalized.
Under the Attorney General’s Directives of 1998, 2015, 2019, and 2022, possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis flower or resin can be dealt with at Parish Hall Enquiry by way of a Written Caution for first offence, and also second offence if more than a year has elapsed since the first. Subsequent offences result in referral to Court regardless of amount.
The cultivation or supply of cannabis is still illegal and carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.
In 2021, Jersey updated its Proceeds of Crime laws to exempt proceeds from cannabis-related products that are legal in the country where they are sold. This means that businesses that are involved in the legal cannabis industry in other jurisdictions can operate in Jersey without fear of being prosecuted for money laundering.
In Liechtenstein, the growth, possession, and sale of cannabis for either medical or recreational purposes are prohibited. However, the country does permit the medical use of specific products such as Sativex and Epidiolex.
Cannabis, in all its forms, is considered illegal in Liechtenstein. Even though it’s the most commonly used illegal substance, the purchase, sale, and consumption of cannabis can lead to criminal charges, potentially resulting in imprisonment.
A significant number of cannabis-related charges in Liechtenstein are associated with personal use.
Cannabis is illegal for both recreational and medical use in Lithuania.
Possession of small amounts is considered a misdemeanor punishable by community service, a fine, or restriction of liberty. Larger amounts or distribution can lead to imprisonment.
The Parliament of Luxembourg has passed a legislation legalizing the possession and cultivation of marijuana for adults.
This development positions Luxembourg as the second nation in the European Union to implement such a reform, succeeding Malta’s decision to legalize cannabis in 2021.
The Luxembourg law, initially suggested by the ministers of justice and homeland security in 2021, permits adults to have up to three grams of cannabis and cultivate a maximum of four plants in a secure area of their private homes.
In Latvia, all activities related to cannabis, including purchasing, cultivating, selling, and consuming, are prohibited.
Possessing and using small quantities of cannabis, typically deemed to be a gram or less, is not considered a criminal act but can lead to a warning or a fine of up to €280.
However, if small amounts are repeatedly involved in offenses within a 12-month period, it becomes a criminal offense, which can result in up to 3 months of imprisonment, mandatory community service, or a fine.
In Monaco, cannabis has not been decriminalized and the country maintains stringent drug laws. The severity of the penalties for cannabis-related offenses is determined by several factors.
These include the amount of cannabis involved, the intention behind the act (whether it’s possession, sale, or trafficking), among other considerations. The consequences for violating these laws can range from monetary fines to incarceration, or in some cases, a combination of both. It’s crucial for residents and visitors alike to be aware of these laws to avoid any legal complications.
In Moldova, cannabis is not legalized for either recreational or medicinal purposes, although drug consumption has been decriminalized.
The act of consuming cannabis is treated as an administrative violation rather than a criminal offense. Possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use can result in a fine or compulsory community service.
Montenegro maintains a traditional stance towards cannabis, with no form of the plant being legalized. The country’s role as a significant transit route for cannabis trafficking from Eastern to Western Europe could be a reason for its disfavor.
In Montenegro, all forms of cannabis are prohibited, although specific penalties are challenging to ascertain. There are anecdotal accounts suggesting that individuals caught with minor quantities of cannabis might be required to bribe law enforcement officers or face a night in jail.
Nevertheless, the purchase, sale, and possession of cannabis are serious offenses that can result in substantial fines and lengthy prison sentences.
In 2016, North Macedonia authorized the use of medical marijuana, and hemp products with a THC content of less than 0.2% are available for over-the-counter purchase within the country.
While the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is still prohibited, the country has contemplated the possibility of legalizing it for adult use.
Recreational cannabis is of course legal in the Netherlands and available in Coffee Shops.
Despite the country’s reputation as a haven for cannabis users in Europe due to its lenient policy towards “soft drugs,” cannabis cultivation itself remains illegal in the Netherlands.
However, a pilot program anticipated to commence by the end of this year could potentially lay the groundwork for the complete legalization of cannabis sales.
While recreational cannabis is not legalized in Norway, possession of quantities less than 15 grams is usually penalized with a straightforward fine.
In a significant development in 2017, the Norwegian parliament endorsed a proposal to decriminalize drug use, thereby shifting the emphasis of drug policies from punishment to treatment.
In February 2021, the Norwegian government put forth a bill to decriminalize possession, suggesting that possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis would no longer be considered a legal offense. However, this initiative was thwarted just two months later by Norway’s principal opposition party.
In Poland, recreational cannabis remains illegal and the plant continues to be legally classified as a narcotic. The country enforces stringent prohibition laws, and breaches of these laws can result in fines or substantial prison terms.
However, Poland initiated a medical cannabis program in 2017, permitting a variety of cannabis products to be prescribed for numerous medical conditions.
Poland is known for its conservative stance in Europe, a perspective that extends to its view on cannabis. Public consumption of cannabis is uncommon, and those who do partake typically do so privately within their own homes.
In a groundbreaking move in 2001, Portugal emerged as the first country globally to decriminalize the possession and use of all drugs, encompassing marijuana, as part of a strategy to address drug abuse and decrease drug-related criminal activity.
As per Portuguese legislation, possession of small quantities of narcotics, including marijuana, for personal use is treated as a civil violation rather than a criminal offense.
Consequently, individuals found with minor amounts of illicit substances may be subject to fines or other civil penalties, but they are exempt from criminal prosecution or imprisonment.
In Romania, the use of cannabis for recreational purposes is prohibited. Although the country technically legalized medical cannabis containing less than 0.2% THC in 2013, it failed to establish a national program.
In 2019, a draft law was proposed to expand the program; however, as of 2022, it remained in the draft stage within a governmental chamber.
Despite the historical prevalence of cannabis use in Romania, the plant has been illegal since 1928. The severity of punishment for drug possession depends on the specific drug involved, but cannabis is categorized as a “high-risk drug,” and possession can lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment ranging from six months to three years.
Individuals caught with cannabis for personal use can evade jail time by participating in an “integrated assistance program.” Selling cannabis can result in a prison sentence of up to 12 years.
Both recreational and medical cannabis are prohibited in Serbia. In 2015, Serbia seemed to be moving towards a more liberal stance on medical cannabis, but has since reversed its position and intensified penalties.
Possession for personal use can lead to a prison sentence of up to three years, although in minor cases, the punishment may be waived.
Cannabis is deemed illegal in Serbia, and the country’s Criminal Code does not differentiate between cannabis and other drugs such as heroin. The code stipulates a prison term of up to three years for personal use or minor quantities, up to 10 years for larger quantities, and up to 12 years for cultivation or sale.
The Russian Federation maintains a strict stance on cannabis, with both medical and recreational cannabis being illegal in the country.
In 2004, Russia amended its drug laws, reclassifying the possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis as an administrative offense, thereby eliminating the possibility of imprisonment.
However, in February 2006, the government rescinded RF Government Decree No. 231 of May 2004, thereby reducing the permissible amount back down to 6 grams.
Since that time, possession of 6 grams or more of cannabis is deemed a “large amount,” and possession of more than 100 grams is considered an “exceptionally large amount.” Both classifications can lead to a prison sentence of several years.
Possession of less than 6 grams of cannabis can result in a fine or “corrective labor.”
A teacher was recently arrested for 17 grams.
Contrary to Sweden’s progressive reputation, the country enforces stringent, even “repressive,” drug policies, with recreational marijuana remaining illegal.
While Sweden did legalize medical marijuana in 2012, the program is extremely restrictive, and the country has not yet moved to legalize recreational marijuana.
Moreover, Sweden upholds some of the most rigorous policies concerning CBD. In a landmark decision in 2019, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that CBD oil containing any amount of THC is classified as a narcotic preparation, thereby falling under the country’s stringent narcotic control laws.
Cannabis holds the title of the most widely used illicit drug in Slovenia, with approximately 10% of the young adult population reportedly indulging in its use. The country’s cannabis laws are relatively progressive.
In 2014, Slovenia’s government endorsed a new harm reduction plan that decriminalized personal possession of cannabis. In the same year, the government reclassified cannabinoids, making them accessible for medicinal use.
Possession of minor quantities of cannabis for personal use is not deemed a criminal offense in Slovenia. Instead of imprisonment, offenders are required to pay a fine of a few hundred Euros, the exact amount of which is determined based on the quantity involved.
Cannabis is prohibited in Svalbard. Before the Svalbard Treaty of 1920, the region practically functioned as an ungoverned terra nullius, but it is now part of Norway, and thus Norwegian law is applicable.
Under this law, a graded approach is taken towards cannabis legislation. Possession for personal use, defined as up to 15 grams, is penalized with a fine ranging from approximately 1,500 to 15,000 Norwegian kroner.
Possession of larger quantities can result in imprisonment, with sentences varying from 6 months to as long as 21 years. These laws are enforced by the Norwegian Police Service, with the small Svalbard district being overseen by the Governor of Svalbard.
In Slovakia, cannabis has not been decriminalized, and possession of even minor quantities can reportedly result in harsh penalties, including imprisonment for up to 8 years.
There have been attempts to decriminalize cannabis, though. In 2018, the then Minister of Justice, Lucia Žitňanská, put forth a proposal for decriminalization, but it did not garner the backing of the ruling party.
San Marino, a mountainous microstate entirely surrounded by Italy, legalized a restricted form of medical cannabis in 2016. However, recreational cannabis remains illegal, despite a citizen’s initiative in 2019 advocating for its legalization.
In 2019, the Parliament endorsed a citizen’s proposal to regulate the recreational use of cannabis, but reversed its decision in March 2020, deciding to follow Italy’s lead. The initiative would have permitted personal possession of up to 30 grams and the cultivation of up to four plants at home.
Despite its illegal status, cannabis use is not rare in San Marino, and many visitors report that it’s easy to purchase the plant. However, the laws do not distinguish between soft and hard drugs.
Public smoking or being found in possession of cannabis can result in either confiscation of the stash or arrest, depending on the quantity involved
While cannabis is technically deemed illegal in Turkey, the enforcement of these laws is relatively lenient, and possession of minor quantities of cannabis is not subject to legal punishment.
Cannabis is readily accessible across the country, and its usage is quite common without significant legal repercussions.
Turkey has a longstanding history of leniency towards cannabis use. The plant has been utilized in the country for centuries and was not criminalized until the early 20th century. Even in the present day, the enforcement of marijuana laws is notably lax. Possession of minor quantities of the drug is not viewed as a criminal offense, and law enforcement typically overlooks public usage.
Despite its officially illegal status, marijuana is widespread in Turkey. The drug is frequently sold in coffee shops and on the streets. It’s also easily accessible in most major cities. The cost of cannabis varies based on the quality and quantity, but it’s generally quite affordable.
In the Eastern European nation of Ukraine, cannabis is currently prohibited.
However, the country is actively working towards legalizing the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. a draft law aimed at establishing the legal framework for the production and distribution of medical cannabis has garnered the support of a majority of the parliament after its first reading.
As reported by The Kyiv Independent, the draft law was backed by 268 out of the 405 lawmakers in the parliament.
As the draft law continues to be examined by the parliament, it may be subject to further amendments.
In Vatican City, both medical and recreational cannabis are prohibited. Despite the fact that medical and industrial cannabis are legal in Italy, and Vatican City usually adopts Italian laws, this is not the case for cannabis. Vatican City, being an independent nation, does not acknowledge the medical or personal advantages of the cannabis plant.
Vatican City is a monarchy governed by the Pope, and Pope Francis has expressed opposition to cannabis. In 2014, he publicly voiced his opposition to the legalization of drugs and cannabis. Other senior members of the Catholic Church have also expressed their opposition to the legalization of cannabis.
In Kosovo, the use of cannabis for either medicinal or recreational purposes is prohibited. The penalties for cannabis-related offenses are outlined in Article 269 of the Kosovo Criminal Code, which was last updated in January 2019.
Individuals found guilty of possessing illicit substances for the first time are typically subject to a one-year sentence or, more commonly, a monetary fine ranging from €250 to €300.