78% Of European Countries Have Legalized Medical Marijuana

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Is marijuana legal in Europe

Greater acceptance of cannabis has been steadily growing in Europe as the European Union has been making moves to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. 

Out of the 27 EU countries only 6 are still classifying medical cannabis as illegal. Namely Bulgaria, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Sweden. 

Recreational cannabis has been largedly decriminalized with the exception of Greece, Ireland, Poland, Romania and Slovenia and the above mentioned countries. In Germany, Malta, The Netherlands and Spain cannabis is completely legal. 

A list of cannabis legislation in EU

Image credit: Biortica Agrimed

Australia To Follow in EU’s Footsteps?

The report was shared in a press release by Australian cannabis pharmaceutical company Biortica Agrimed. “The EU situation with respect to legalization can best be described as fluid, but evolving positively,“ said CEO Tom Varga.

“Whilst EU law prohibits the commercial sale of cannabis, many countries are taking a more mature approach, and legalizing, initially medicinal, and ultimately personal use, with Germany in the lead. 21 out of the 27 EU member states have legalized use of medicinal cannabis,” he said, “and 13 countries have either legalized or decriminalized its personal use.”

Cannabis is considered by “far the most commonly consumed illicit drug in Europe” according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction’s (EMCDDA). The report which surveyed 22.6 million people between 15 and 64 years showed that 8% of European adults have used cannabis within the last year while 1.3% of adults described themselves as ‘daily’ or ‘almost daily’ users. 

Citing a need to better understand the needs of cannabis users, the report said that cannabis accounted for almost a third of all drug admissions in Europe. This further emphasizes the importance of legislation and transparency. 

After Legalization Comes Reinforcement

Like Japan, the European market has been plagued with semi-synthetic cannabinoids such as hexahydrocannabinol (HHC) and high-potency extracts and edibles which have been linked to acute toxicity presentations in hospital emergency departments.

In 2021, EU Member States reported 202 000 seizures of cannabis resin amounting to 816 tonnes (588 tonnes in 2020) and 240 000 seizures of herbal cannabis amounting to 256 tonnes (157 tonnes in 2020). Spain accounted for 66 % of the number of cannabis seizures in the European Union which shifted attention to the Mediterranean country as the transit country for trafficking and as a production area. 

Australia legalized medical cannabis in 2016 and is in the process of legalizing cannabis for recreational use, growing and supply federally. The Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 was introduced by Greens Senator David Shoebridge on August 10, 2023 and is due for a second reading and debate. 

“The EU comprises world class nations, and Australia should take any learnings that we can from the EU.” he said, “We have the benefit, and indeed the privilege, to view how legislative frameworks have been built over-seas, what’s worked and working, and what the Australian industry and legislators should avoid. Australia really can do better.” 

“We look forward to continuing to share our global industry research with the Australian industry, our legislators and regulators, to build an industry that we can all be proud of, an industry that puts patient care, safety and outcomes to the fore, ” said Varga.

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