MEANWHILE, IN EUROPE…

European Cannabis News

In the last years, there has been a constant stream of cannabis news from the Americas. Whether it’s the USA or Canada, or countries like Chile, Uruguay and Mexico; there is always something going on there. In the meantime, in Europe, the legal framework concerning cannabis is taking much smaller steps. It is not only Holland and Amsterdam with the famous ‘coffee shopsand cannabis seed banks, there are more countries getting into the cannabis scene.  Here is a small round up of recent developments.

Let’s start with some fresh news first from Italy. Medical use of marijuana in Italy is legal… if it is bought from a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription. Until recently, anyone growing cannabis for research in a medical lab was risking their freedom; or at least some really heavy fines for doing so. But now, things seem to be getting a little better. Italian lawmakers recently decided to decriminalize some minor legal offenses, like growing medical marijuana for therapeutic reasons and medical research. Justice Minister Andrea Orlando made it very clear; this is not about those who have a personal interest in the recreational use of the plant.

Some years ago Switzerland decriminalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis for personal use. Since 2013 people who get arrested possessing 10 grams of cannabis or less must just pay a fine. Recently the four biggest cities of the country (Zurich, Geneva, Basel, and Bern) announced their desire to open clubs for those who need to get cannabis. If the pilot program gets approved by the cantonal governments and the federal office of public health, then these cannabis clubs will be the points of a regulated distribution – but not for everybody like the Dutch coffee shops. The cannabis clubs will be open only for users with drug related problems. Only two thousand people can be registered in each one of them. The pilot program will be monitored by Swiss scientists, in order to evaluate the long term results.

In the United Kingdom, debate for a legal reform was initiated by people who managed to collect 220,000 signatures for cannabis legalization.

The federal government of Germany announced a plan which includes the creation of a cannabis agency in the country. Mainly for financial reasons, German lawmakers decided to make a move in order to cut the expenses spent by seriously ill patients who have had to import their medical cannabis from the Netherlands for many years. Until now, the government was providing “exemption licenses” to these people. If the proposed plan gets the green light of the nationwide parliament, it will be a very important step for the cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Germany.

The Czech Republic is getting Europe’s attention often when is about cannabis. Since 2010 Czech citizens are allowed to grow up to five plants. Recently the Czech government announced plans (with the help of funding from Canadian and US donations) to create “The International Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute” research center.  They want to focus on the study of the medical properties of cannabis and to collect experiences from patients.

European countries are moving silently towards liberal reforms, and there is no doubt that in the near future, we will see additional countries announcing more tolerant policies.

Article courtesy of Expert Contributor: W. Hackman

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