Some European countries are getting rather open with their cannabis policies, some European countries are not. Slovenia fits more into the latter, albeit with some interesting laws that’ll make you scratch your head, and some definite possibility for changing laws in the near future.
Possession of cannabis is illegal in Slovenia. Personal use amounts have been decriminalized with the Production and Trade in Illicit Drugs Act calling it a small quantity for individual use, or a small quantity for medical use. Under Article 33 of the aforementioned act, possession is considered a minor offense, meaning offenders likely will pay a fine up to about €200, but won’t see jail time.
Punishments are more lenient if the offender agrees to enter a treatment program. To be clear, this is more of a decriminalization and less of a personal use right. Being caught with a small amount does not get a person out of punishment, but the punishment is minimal and generally won’t include jail time.
Sale and supply crimes are illegal as well. Slovenia’s Criminal Code of 2008 makes the following distinction:
- Manufacturing & trafficking – this includes cultivation, purchase with intent to sell, and selling.
- Facilitating the consumption of illicit drugs – Offering others cannabis for use.
Those caught breaking manufacturing and trafficking laws can expect prison sentences of 1-15 years depending on the circumstances of the crime, and who was involved, with longer prison sentences if the crimes involved vulnerable populations. Those caught breaking the laws for facilitating use can expect 6mo-12years in prison depending on the circumstances, whether a vulnerable party was involved, and if the offender abused their place of authority.
Growing cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes is technically illegal in Slovenia, however, hemp laws say otherwise.
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What about hemp?
Slovenia goes by EU regulation when it comes to growing industrial hemp. Plants with .2% THC or less can be grown without a license in home or outside, so long as they don’t take up more than .1 hectare of land. Farmers may grow cannabis on larger pieces of land, but must obtain a license from the government in order to do so. While this actually gives a huge amount of personal use rights to residents in terms of cultivating for themselves, it is still illegal to grow plants with a higher quantity of THC than .2%.
Are CBD and medical cannabis legal?
Hemp oil and CBD are both legal with the stipulation of containing .2% THC or less. Having said that, medical cannabis as a plant is not legal, but drugs made from extracted cannabinoids like Sativex, and synthetic cannabinoids like Marinol, are legal. Sativex is an interesting choice, of course, as it contains higher levels of THC. Patients can receive prescriptions for these medications from their doctor. Many people in the country opt to self-medicate with CBD and other related oils since the medical system isn’t offering many cannabis-related options.
The change in legislation that opened the door for medical use came in 2013 when cannabinoids themselves were reclassified as Class 2 drugs, meaning they can be used medicinally, even though the actual flower cannot. An interesting statistic according to Prohibition Partners is that “Cannabis is regularly or occasionally used by 15 percent of the Slovenian population and it’s estimated that 30,000 citizens self-medicate using cannabis extracts.” All this considering Slovenia only has two million residents.
So, to sum it up: medicinal cannabis is legal, but only preparations made from cannabinoids, and not the plant itself, and nothing having more than .2% THC unless the patient is prescribed a medication with a different amount. Growing cannabis medicinally or recreationally is illegal. However, industrial hemp is perfectly legal, and any adult is allowed to grow it, even in their own home.
Did you catch it?
If it wasn’t caught, there’s a glaring loophole here that’s good for the people. Going back to medical cannabis for a second, it’s illegal in terms of directly using the plant, and only legal for the cannabinoids extracted from it. It’s also still illegal to cultivate, or process cannabis for medical purposes, or to grow it recreationally, which means Slovenia is completely reliant on imported medicines.
However, according to the industrial hemp laws, any adult can grow hemp, inside their house, or out. Hemp is a cornerstone of today’s medicinal cannabis market – whether it’s specifically grown for that purpose or not, and both the flowers and extracts account for a large percentage of the current global medical cannabis offerings. This means that any adult in Slovenia can legally possess hemp. And with decriminalization laws, they can also technically smoke it (at least without going to prison).
It could almost be looked at that the only stipulation in terms of what is allowable for use with cannabis plants relates to THC amount, but if this were really the case, why would it be illegal to authorize the sale of hemp flowers for medicinal use? It’s a system that makes very little sense. Doctors can’t prescribe hemp flowers for medicinal use, but decriminalization laws and hemp grow laws indicate citizens can use a loophole to grow their own hemp for their own use, whatever it may be.
Generally, if a person is going to go through the process of growing a personal cannabis plant, they’re probably intending to smoke it too. So, people can grow their own medicinal cannabis flowers under the name of hemp, but they can’t access said flowers from their official health program under the name of medicine.
Will legalization come?
In early 2018, a bill was introduced by a group of legislators from the senior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) to legalize cannabis, but it didn’t pass. With the Modern Centre Party in power, and being generally more liberal toward cannabis, there are different options being considered from expanding the medicinal cannabis offering to include actual flowers, to a full legalization. The Social Democratic party (SD) has also been promoting legalization for several years, and have submit their own proposals for legalization for medical growing, and the use of actual cannabis buds rather than extracts.
This is a weird time in life because of the coronavirus pandemic, and a global reaction that essentially shut down a lot of the functioning of the world. In doing so, many businesses have been bankrupted, and others forced to change their plans, or push their schedules back in the year. With so much upheaval in local governments around the world, things like cannabis regulation measures often take a back seat to more pressing matters. Point being that right now is a slow time for progress in cannabis legalization almost anywhere.
But this isn’t to say the world has stopped moving altogether, or that business won’t slowly return to normal. Or that new legislation isn’t being worked on. Slovenia might not stand out as one of the more liberal or more quickly moving countries when it comes to cannabis legalization, but somehow I get the impression, that legalization really isn’t that far away. And for now, though it won’t get citizens a nice THC buzz, they can use the hemp loophole to grow their own low-THC cannabis.