Finnish cannabis laws are relatively tough, and even medical cannabis isn’t widely available. However, small quantities for personal use have been decriminalised, and the youth wings of Finland’s political parties are pushing to fully legalise recreational cannabis. In 2018, efforts were also made to develop CBD products for medical use.
- CBD Products
- Recreational cannabis
- Medicinal cannabis
- Cannabis laws in Finland
- Can you possess and use cannabis in Finland?
- Can you sell cannabis in Finland?
- Can you grow cannabis in Finland?
- Is CBD legal in Finland?
- Can cannabis seeds be sent to Finland?
- Medicinal cannabis in Finland
- Industrial hemp in Finland
- Political parties and cannabis
- Good to know
- Cannabis history
- What is Finola?
- Hamppusampo – progressive practices or breaking the law?
- Will Finland legalise cannabis in the future?
Cannabis laws in Finland
Can you possess and use cannabis in Finland?
Finland’s Narcotics Act states that use or possession of any drugs (including cannabis) is a criminal offence. It also recommends a punishment of a fine or up to six months in prison.
If the quantity of cannabis is regarded as ‘insignificant’ then the punishment may be waived. This is also the case if the offender chooses to accept treatment (as outlined by the Decree of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health). Repeat offenders are unlikely to have their prosecution waived.
An aggravated drugs offence can receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years. ‘Aggravating circumstances’ include:
- Substances regarded as dangerous
- Large quantities of the drug
- Significant financial profit
- Operating as part of an organised drugs group
In 2017, Finland’s Supreme Court ruled that a sentence for an aggravated drug offence could be reduced, depending on the nature of the offender’s role in the crime.
Can you sell cannabis in Finland?
Finland is unusual in that the law doesn’t differentiate explicitly between the sale and possession of cannabis. As such, there’s no separate law for sale or trafficking.
If the offender is caught trying to sell a significant amount of cannabis, the sentence is likely to be harsher – as much as ten years in prison. Smaller amounts will receive a lesser sentence, and if it’s particularly low, the offender might only get a fine.
Cannabis isn’t consistently available for sale in Finland; as most imports arrive from Denmark via other international drug trafficking routes. However, there is a small-scale level of domestic cultivation, and this seems to be on the rise.
Can you grow cannabis in Finland?
Finland’s Narcotics Act states that the cultivation of cannabis is illegal. This means that you’re not permitted to grow it in your home under any circumstances. Despite this, some Finnish people still choose to take the risk.
The journal European Addiction Research found that Finnish growers prefer indoor cultivation, which makes sense given the cold climate. They typically harvest the plants for their own personal use. Additionally, Finnish people are twice as likely to grow cannabis for medical use than their neighbours, the Danish.
While personal cultivation is illegal, commercial production is not (though it requires permission). Many Finnish enterprises grow hemp in the country, and cannabis for medical purposes.
Is CBD legal in Finland?
CBD is legal in Finland as long as it doesn’t contain high enough levels of THC (the substance responsible for the ‘high’) to be labelled as a psychoactive drug. As such, you can purchase CBD-based products freely in health stores and online.
Can cannabis seeds be sent to Finland?
It’s legal to send cannabis seeds to Finland, and they can be purchased without fear of prosecution. However, as cultivation is illegal, they cannot be used to grow plants.
Medicinal cannabis in Finland
In 2008, the Finnish government passed a law, permitting the use of medicinal cannabis. This was specifically Bedrocan herbal cannabis from the Netherlands. A decade later, and medicinal cannabis access is still limited. As it stands at present, only Sativex (an oromucosal spray) is available on prescription, for patients with MS.
CBD may be prescribed for other conditions, but this is decided on a case-by-case basis by the Finnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA). Even when medicinal cannabis is available, it’s hard to obtain a prescription. They can only be issued by a neurological expert (or doctors working in a neurological clinic), and are viewed as a ‘last-resort’ if the patient hasn’t responded to other forms of medication.
Medicinal cannabis is also viewed negatively by many people living in Finland. One patient in his 60s told Yle: “I asked my doctor for medical marijuana and he nearly fell out of his chair. It was as if I had raised some kind of immense taboo. And he was a fairly young doctor, so my impression is that the topic is not well studied in medical school here.”
Additionally, medical cannabis products are expensive. Sativex is reportedly as much as EUR 650 for three spray bottles, each containing just 10ml. Home cultivation is considerably cheaper, which may explain why more people in Finland are risking prosecution to grow it privately.
Although the country’s medical cannabis programme has been slow to get going, numbers of patients receiving the treatment are increasing.
Industrial hemp in Finland
Despite the cold northern European climate, Finland has a long history of cultivating hemp. By the 20th century, however, the hemp industry was in decline. Flax and cotton (both less labour-intensive) were favoured by farmers, and increasingly negative perceptions reduced hemp’s cultivation to almost nothing.
Unlike many other countries, Finland never passed a specific law banning hemp production. This meant that cultivation never fully disappeared, especially in rural areas. The 1990s saw a revival in the industry, and since then, hemp has become a vital part of the country’s economy again.
Political parties and cannabis
Most of Finland’s main political parties; the National Coalition Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats, do not want to see cannabis legalised; though many support its use for medical purposes.
However, the youth wings of the parties have an entirely different view. Suvi Makelainen, Chair of Centre Party Youth, comments: “It’s quite easy to avoid talking about drug policy. It’s easy to say, ‘I don’t want marijuana to be legalised’. But it’s more difficult to have a full discussion about it.”
All the major youth parties have met to discuss decriminalising cannabis for personal use. The National Coalition Party’s Youth Chairperson, Henrik Vuornos, says: “Worldwide, using cannabis is more popular with the youngsters than the older people, and I think younger people are also more connected around the world. People are looking at websites and reading magazines, following USA politics, where almost half the states have legalised cannabis.”
Good to know
If you are travelling to Finland (or are a resident of the country), it is useful to know the following:
- Despite Finland’s tough stance on cannabis use, 13.5% of young adults (15-34 years old) used it in 2016.
- Herbal cannabis was the most commonly seized drug (resin cannabis, or ‘hash’, was third).
- Generally speaking, the potency of cannabis in Finland is less than in other countries. The official figures found that most herbal cannabis contained 0.4% to 20% THC.
No-one knows exactly when cannabis first came to Finland. Ancient pollen grains suggest that plants belonging to the cannabaceae family have been growing there since 4000BC, but these may actually be wild hop plants rather than cannabis. It’s true – beer and cannabis are related!
Archaeological digs found evidence of hemp being cultivated from around 800 AD onwards. It’s believed that the Vikings grew it on Ahvenanmaa, an island between Finland and Sweden. Further excavations suggest that cannabis cultivation was widespread, from this time right through to 1500 AD.
Historical tax and excise records prove that there was a small hemp industry in the country in the 15th and 16th centuries. Some experts think that the cannabis being grown at this time was introduced from Russia (via the border region of Karelia). However, it’s possible that some strains came from central Europe.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, hemp was Finland’s main crop. Its production surpassed its closest rival flax by a considerable margin. But the ‘golden era’ of hemp cultivation was not to last. In the 20th century, the industry began to decline. Growing negativity towards cannabis meant that it was virtually eliminated, though some rural communities continued to farm it.
What is Finola?
Finola is the trade name for a hardy hemp strain which grows in Finland. It was first developed in 1995, then added to the EU’s list of subsidised crops in 2003. Now, it is renowned across the world due to its frost-resistance and resilience in northern latitudes.
It hasn’t been an entirely smooth journey for Finola. EU representatives initially protested its inclusion on the subsidised crops list. In 2006, samples were found to have higher THC levels than permitted (over 0.2%). It was removed from the EU list, but made a return in 2013, after intensive campaigning from hemp growers and activists in Finland.
Hamppusampo – progressive practices or breaking the law?
Hamppusampo are a Finnish cannabis company. In 2018, they began developing a non-psychoactive strain of cannabis, with the intention of creating a CBD product to sell in Finland and abroad. They worked with several small-scale farmers on the coast. Hamppusampo also obtained a permit from Finland’s food safety agency (Evira) to import seeds for research and product development.
Evira then announced that Hamppusampo’s flowering hemp plants were illegal. As a result, the company was forced to stop selling them. They had presumed that Evira would consider the flowering as a food; however, Evira stated that they had “not legalised the flowering of hemp and…/…not granted any marketing authorisation to anyone.”
Will Finland legalise cannabis in the future?
Given how difficult it is even to obtain medical cannabis products on prescription, it seems unlikely that the Finnish government will change their cannabis laws any time soon. However, the youth parties represent another opinion; and perhaps a marked difference between the younger and older people of the country.
In short, the laws may change in the future, as new generations take a more active role in politics.
- 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.