Cannabis in Denmark – Laws, Use, and History

The supply, sale or possession of cannabis is illegal in Denmark, as it is with many other European nations. However, the launch of the medicinal cannabis programme means that use of the plant will be legal in certain circumstances. With officials pushing the government to trial legalisation programs, the law may change further in the future.

    • Capital
    • København (Copenhagen)
    • Population
    • 5,797,000
    • CBD Products
    • Legal under 0.2% THC
    • Recreational cannabis
    • Illegal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Legal

Cannabis laws in Denmark

Can you possess and use cannabis in Denmark?

It is illegal to possess cannabis in Denmark, in accordance with the Consolidated Act on Controlled Substances (2016). If caught, the penalty is either a fine or imprisonment – a maximum two-year sentence.

Personal use of cannabis is not listed as a crime. However, the fact that it is in your possession means it is a prosecutable offence. The punishment for possessing it is usually a fine, which is dependent on how much cannabis you are found with, plus any offences you have committed in the past.

As cannabis is generally regarded as a ‘soft drug’, the usual fine is only around €70. If you are caught driving while under the influence of cannabis though, the fine is likely to be larger, and the possibility of a prison sentence is increased. The possession of 10kg+ of cannabis is classed as a more serious offence and is punished under Section 191 of the Criminal Code. This can result in 10 to 16 years’ imprisonment.

Can you sell cannabis in Denmark?

The sale of cannabis is also illegal in Denmark, and as with possession, the penalty is a fine or imprisonment. However, the Laegemiddelstyrelsen medicines agency has now provided 12 companies with permits to produce and sell cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Can you grow cannabis in Denmark?

Growing cannabis plants is illegal. This is a grey area though, as the purchase or sale of cannabis seeds is not. It is generally recognised that by growing their own plants at home, individuals are not actively supporting the illegal distribution of drugs in the country. Thus, it is not usually regarded as a serious offence; but bear in mind that it is still punishable in the eyes of the law.

Is CBD legal in Denmark?

On 1st July 2018, it became legal to possess and sell CBD oil with a content of 0.2% THC or less. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that is responsible for giving users the ‘high’, and the effects of a 0.2% dose are limited.

However, other factors affect whether the CBD oil is legal or not, even if it complies with this regulation. If it produces an effect on the body, it may be regarded as a medicine. This means it must meet the criteria of the Danish Medicines Act or the rules outlined in the medicinal cannabis programme.

As such, many CBD oils online may still be illegal to sell or buy.

Can cannabis seeds be sent to Denmark?

It is legal to buy, sell and possess cannabis seeds in Denmark. It is also legal to send them in the post, which may come as a surprise to some. It is not legal to germinate the seeds though, and you are also not allowed to grow plants from them.

Medicinal cannabis in Denmark

Denmark has approved Sativex, Marinol, and Nabilone for medicinal use. Sativex is based on an extract of the cannabis plant, while Marinol and Nabilone contain synthetically produced cannabinoids.

On the 1st January 2018, the Danish Medicines Agency established the medicinal cannabis programme. This four-year pilot scheme granted 12 companies permits for growing, cultivating and distributing medicinal cannabis in the country. This trial is specifically aimed at herbal cannabis (plant material), and is therefore different from the abovementioned cannabinoid-based medications.

To gain a permit, the companies needed to gain licences for each process involved in producing the medicinal end product. They are now free to distribute their products to approved suppliers (e.g. doctors and pharmacies in Denmark).

The country anticipates becoming one of the largest producers of medicinal cannabis in Europe. However, they will be subject to strict regulation, stipulated by three public bodies: the national police, Landbrugsstyrelsen agricultural agency, and Laegemiddelstyrelsen (the Danish Medicines Agency).

Industrial hemp in Denmark

Industrial hemp is used for many different purposes; to create paper, construction material, textiles, biodegradable plastic and more. It can be grown legally in many countries in Europe, including Denmark. The production and use of industrial hemp is regulated – only certain varieties of cannabis can be used and they must contain less than 0.2% THC.

Denmark’s political parties and cannabis

As with many countries, Denmark’s political parties are divided when it comes to cannabis. Five of the country’s parties; Enhedslisten, the Socialist People’s Party, Alternative, Radikale Venstre and Liberal Alliance, recently voiced their support for decriminalising the sale of cannabis. They claimed that prohibiting recreational use enabled criminal organisations to profit from illegal trade.

The current government, which comprises a coalition of different political parties, initially took a hard-line stance on the sale and possession of cannabis in Denmark. They rejected proposals for a trial legalised programme in Copenhagen four times. But there are suggestions that their tough approach may be softening, particularly with the introduction of the medicinal cannabis programme.

Good to know

If you are travelling to Denmark (or are a resident), it is useful to know the following:

  • Denmark is largely pro-cannabis use. Recent polls showed that 88% of Danish people support its use for medical purposes. Over half the respondents supported the recreational use of cannabis too.
  • As from 1st January 2018, it is possible to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis in Denmark.
  • Prosecution for the sale and possession of CBD oil is increasing year-on-year. If you’re in Denmark, it is vitally important to purchase from a reputable seller, to ensure you remain within the law.

Cannabis in Copenhagen

Denmark is often regarded as a relatively progressive, liberal country. This is perhaps most evident in Copenhagen, and its semi-autonomous ‘free-town’, Christiania. Regarded as a centre of liberal attitudes and freedom, the use of cannabis is commonplace among its locals.

It was formed in the 1970s, when squatters entered the area (then an abandoned military base) and made homes out of the disused buildings. The government at the time declared Christiania a ‘social experiment’ and in 1989, it was awarded certain legal rights.

The trade of cannabis has changed in Christiania over the years. One-man dealerships have given way to multinational enterprises, and drug use is still as prevalent as ever. This has caused tensions with the law.

Attitudes to cannabis

Despite the fact that possession of cannabis is illegal, almost half of young adults (16-34 years old) has tried cannabis at least once in their life. This is one of the highest figures in Europe. The country was also ranked 23rd in the world in terms of prevalence of cannabis use.

The move to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes marks a further shift in opinion, and the suggestion that the law will become softer on its use in the future.

Recent cannabis history

In the early 2000s, the law’s focus with regards to cannabis use was on minimising personal harm. In 2004, this shifted noticeably. The police began actively policing the possession and supply of cannabis; whereas before, the emphasis had been more on suppliers of harder drugs, such as heroin.

There was a reason for this shift. Recreational cannabis use among young people had increased in the 1990s, and some regarded the Danish government’s approach as too liberal. In 2003, the government introduced the Fight Against Drugs scheme. This was designed to reduce access to cannabis, decrease its profitability on the streets, and prevent the drug from becoming normalised.

What medical cannabis products are available in Denmark?

According to Laegemiddelstyrelsen (The Danish Medicines Agency), there are four cannabis-based products available on prescription:

  • Medicines supplied for ‘compassionate use’ (with permit)
    Certain products which aren’t sold or authorised in Denmark can be prescribed using a compassionate use permit. This applies to some medicines that use synthetically-produced cannabinoids.
  • Authorised medicines
    Some medicines, such as Sativex (a spray used to treat spasms associated with MS) are authorised and can be prescribed freely by doctors or pharmacists.
  • Magistral preparation of cannabis substances
    Preparations of cannabis-substances can also be prescribed – usually in the form of a capsule or oil. These are prepared at a pharmacy, based on the recommendations listed in the doctor’s prescription.
  • Listed products on the pilot scheme
    From the start of 2018, doctors were also given the chance to prescribe other cannabis products, supplied by official companies taking part in the medicinal cannabis pilot programme.
    From the start of 2018, doctors were also given the chance to prescribe other cannabis products, supplied by official companies taking part in the medicinal cannabis pilot programme.

What is Danish cannabis like?

There are many different strains of cannabis grown in Denmark, including those introduced via companies like Canadian medical cannabis producer Canopy. A study in 2015 found that Danish cannabis was unusually high in THC – and that levels of THC had tripled in just twenty years. The samples contained 28% THC, compared to 8% in 1992.

“Cannabis as a product has changed significantly in just a few years,” says Christian Lindholst, Head of Department of Forensic Medicine at Aarhus University. “This is a trend we see around Europe.”

The Danish drugs market

Cannabis is the most frequently seized drug in Denmark; followed by cocaine and amphetamines. The majority of cannabis resin comes from Morocco, though numbers of ‘home-grown’ cannabis prosecutions have increased in recent years.

Is Denmark likely to decriminalise recreational use?

Other countries, such as Portugal and Spain, have relaxed their laws on recreational drug use. Since doing so, Portugal experienced a decrease in HIV infections and drug-related deaths. With many other countries across the world legalising cannabis use for medical purposes, there is a possibility that Denmark may choose to decriminalise the recreational use of the substance, especially if the government believes it to be of benefit to the country as a whole.

  • Disclaimer:
    While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice, as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

Comments

13 thoughts on “Cannabis in Denmark – Laws, Use, and History”

  1. This did not answer my question. Is it legal to sell or buy cannabis seeds in Denmark?

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi there,

      Cannabis seeds can be shipped to Denmark, and are also on sale in shops there, implying that yes, this is legal.

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

      1. We just ordered CBD OILw no thc or less then 0.2% and it got confiscate at Toll and police called and send a ticket for 2000danish kroner?????

  2. Hi, is it legal to post CBD (Canabidol Oil) to Denmark? Or are you aware of where this oil can be purchased in Denmark?

    Thanks in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hello Hina,

      My apologies for the delay in answering this question, I wanted to check exactly what our position is on this. Currently, our Customer Service department advises the following:

      “In the Netherlands, CBD products are legal. The legislation covering free trade of goods in the EU means that Sensi Seeds can send CBD products to different European countries (currently, Belgium is an exception to this). However, the rules covering CBD products unfortunately differ from country to country. For this reason, we strongly advise customers to check the regulations in their own country before ordering CBD products.”

      I hope this is helpful,

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

      1. Please let me know if a vape pipe and cbd oil for the pipe is legal to enter Denmark with for personal use only or does the possession of the vape pipe and cbd oil put the owner at risk of arrest and prosecution? Thanks

      2. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

        Hi Neal,

        I’m afraid I can’t answer this question, you will need to contact Danish border authorities to find out exactly what the current legal stance is on this.

        With best wishes,

        Scarlet

  3. Your posts contain excellent articles, which have clearly been well-researched. In cannabis-related websites and related posts, this is frequently not the case….. so kudos to you and your team for speaking truth !!

  4. Curiouswife

    I have received several answers and hope you can clear up the confusion. If a person is not a Permanent Resident, yet, and is found by law enforcement to have a personal stash for personal use, could they be deported? Thank you.

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi there,

      I’m afraid I can’t answer this question, sorry. I recommend you consult a Danish lawyer with experience in drug and deportation laws, as they will be qualified to give you an accurate answer. Good luck!

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

  5. Wondering if there is a list (link) of businesses currently selling hemp products legally in Denmark and other Scandinavian Countries….Thank You!

    1. Scarlet Palmer - Sensi Seeds

      Hi Mar,

      Not that I know of currently; if you find one, please do let us know!

      With best wishes,

      Scarlet

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    Sensi Seeds

    The Sensi Seeds Editorial team has been built throughout our more than 30 years of existence. Our writers and editors include botanists, medical and legal experts as well as renown activists the world over including Lester Grinspoon, Micha Knodt, Robert Connell Clarke, Maurice Veldman, Sebastian Maríncolo, James Burton and Seshata.
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    Maurice Veldman

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