Across much of European countries cannabis has been decriminalized, although that doesn’t mean it is legal yet.
None of the European Union members has completely legalized cannabis. Spain, Germany, Romania, Portugal and the Netherlands, among others, have twisted their laws to tolerate and frame the use and sale of small amounts through special dispensaries, coffee shops and clubs.
It has also been “sort of” decriminalized or “semi legalized” in the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Croatia, and Slovenia, where the fines are lighter, possession of personal amounts are accepted and legislation carves the difference between “light” and “hard” drugs.
A year ago, a report from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), stated that drug use, when not injuring others, should not be illegal in the EU.
Cannabis in Spain
A network of cannabis clubs has sprung up across Barcelona, Valencia and the Basque Country, providing a venue for cannabis smokers to gather together and smoke, without fear of arrest or confiscation. The clubs are allowed to grow and distribute marijuana among their members, who are, in turn, required to pay for the upkeep of the club and the cost of growing the cannabis.
These new clubs owe their sudden emergence to a legal loophole, which allows cannabis to be grown privately for personal use, and the widespread tolerance of ‘shared consumption.’ As long as the clubs maintain a strict membership system, and restrict each member to a specific allocation, there is currently no law against this form of assembly.
According to some estimates, the number of clubs in Spain has jumped from 40 in 2010 to 700 today.
Cannabis in Italy
in January of this year, Italian lawmakers officially decriminalized a number of minor crimes, the most important of which had to do with medical cannabis cultivation and cannabis research.
In 2015, cannabis advocates proposed wide-scale decriminalization, with legalization of private use and cultivation, as well as supporting a club system similar to Spain’s. The terms of that proposal suggested that “people over the age of 18 could cultivate up to five plants at home and growers could set up social clubs involving a maximum of 50 people and 250 plants,” according to Italian news sources.
On January 19th, 2017, Germany’s parliament (Bundestag) passed a law that officially makes cannabis legal for medicinal purposes, allowing for severely ill German patients to receive prescriptions for medical cannabis treatment. This amendment became effective from March 2017, allowing people with qualifying conditions to legally obtain medical cannabis from pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription.
Cannabis in Czech Republic
In 2013, the Czech Republic legalized medical cannabis, the Huffington Post reported. Cannabis is imported and grown by local firms, but patient are not allowed to grow it at home.
Cannabis in Romania
In October 2013, the Eastern European country of Romania legalized medical cannabis derivatives, according to the Huffington Post. The law allows for people to have products that contain cannabis compounds rather than the green itself.
Cannabis in France
A similar law went into effect in June 2013 in France, where prescription-based products containing cannabis derivatives became legal, according to the Local.
Cannabis in Portugal
In 2001, Portugal became the first E.U. member to decriminalize personal use of cannabis, although cultivation is still criminal even if the crop is intended for personal use. Sale, too, remains illegal.
Cannabis in Italy
Cannabis possession is prohibited but not for personal use and in small quantities.