It’s illegal to use, purchase or sell cannabis in Poland. However, the law tolerates limited personal possession, and has recently legalised the use of medicinal cannabis. Poland once had a thriving hemp industry, but it has been in steady decline since the 1950s. This looks set to change as the country cashes in once more on hemp’s economic potential.
- Warszawa (Warsaw)
- CBD Products
- Legal under 0.2% THC
- Recreational cannabis
- Medicinal cannabis
- Cannabis laws in Poland
- Can you possess and use cannabis in Poland?
- Tolerance to small amounts
- Can you sell cannabis in Poland?
- Can you grow cannabis in Poland?
- Is CBD legal in Poland?
- Can cannabis seeds be sent to Poland?
- Medicinal cannabis in Poland
- Industrial hemp in Poland
- Good to know
- Cannabis history
- Cultural attitudes
- Will it be legalised in the future?
Cannabis laws in Poland
Can you possess and use cannabis in Poland?
It’s illegal to possess or use cannabis in Poland. According to the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction, possession can be punished with up to three years in prison. Cannabis is not differentiated from any other type of drug.
As an alternative to a prison sentence, the offender may be fined, or have certain rights removed for up to one year. The court also has the right to insist that the individual attends a treatment programme, as part of the country’s ‘treat rather than punish’ approach.
Tolerance to small amounts
In 2011, the country adopted a ‘tolerance’ policy, which meant that offenders would no longer be penalised if caught with small amounts for private consumption. This was introduced after considerable pressure from public figures such as the former president Lech Walesa and the poet Wislawa Szymborska.
This has had a significant effect on the number of cases dropped by the General Prosecutor’s Office. According to available data, prosecutors decided to drop 4,273 cases in 2014 – about 1,100 more than in 2013. In 2012, prosecutors dropped just over 2,100 cases, with a further 160 dropped by the courts.
However, drogriporter.hu reports that the 2012 number of dropped cases represented just 11.3 percent of the 18,441 total arrests for possession that year, and that 79 percent of cannabis possession cases taken to court involved quantities of three grams or less.
Can you sell cannabis in Poland?
As with possession, the sale of cannabis is not regarded as different from any other drug in Polish law. Any act of selling, supplying, importing or exporting drugs is punishable with up to five years in prison; or just one year if the case is considered to be of ‘lesser gravity’. If the offender was caught trafficking a significant amount of cannabis, they could be imprisoned for up to 12 years.
In cases where the offender is found to be addicted to cannabis (and where the sentence is limited to five years imprisonment), treatment may be offered instead of prison.
Can you grow cannabis in Poland?
Poland is unusual, in that it has specific laws relating to the cultivation of cannabis. However, no distinction is made between cannabis, opium or coca, and any large-scale production of these plants is penalised heavily, with a prison sentence of six months to eight years.
When it comes to growing limited amounts for personal use, the law becomes less clear-cut. This is illustrated by a case in 2014. In this instance, the Constitutional Court considered the appeal of a cannabis grower, who’d been given a suspended sentence for cultivating small quantities for private use.
The offender claimed that the “ban on the cultivation and possession of cannabis constitutes the strongest possible limitation of individual autonomy in decision making”. Despite this, the Court upheld the law, but acknowledged that “decisions of the legislature should be based on multifaceted research…and the experience of other countries.” This suggests that decriminalised laws could also be constitutional.
Despite the tough laws, there are several cannabis plantations in operation in Poland, and the authorities regularly crack down on illegal farming. For example, in 2015, several arrests were made; with one 49-year-old man being arrested for growing 60 plants in his barn. In 2018, the police seized over 2,500 cannabis plants worth over EUR 700,000, in just two separate raids.
Is CBD legal in Poland?
CBD is legal in Poland, though there are certain ambiguities in the law. Its use is widely tolerated, but regulators still seem unsure of what category it should fall into – food product, supplement or medicinal product. Usually though, CBD is regarded as a food supplement.
Also, there has been a lack of legislative guidance about the THC levels for all hemp products in Poland (including CBD). As such, the industry has chosen to regulate itself, introducing a mandatory 0.2% THC limit for all products. It’s not known for sure whether the authorities have accepted this limit or not.
Can cannabis seeds be sent to Poland?
Medicinal cannabis in Poland
In 2017, Poland’s parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalising medicinal cannabis use – under ‘certain circumstances’. The law permits medical practitioners to prescribe medicinal cannabis products for any condition, providing its benefit can be backed by clinical research.
Additionally, the law states that imported cannabis plants can be processed at Polish pharmacies, as long as the processing is logged with the Office for Registration of Medical Products. All products will be covered under statutory health insurance.
The law was passed as a result of heated public debate, which intensified after the dismissal of a Warsaw doctor in 2015. It was found that the doctor had experimentally administered cannabis to young patients with epilepsy, without gaining the correct authorisation to do so. Medicinal cannabis was brought back into the spotlight the following year, when Tomasz Kalita campaigned for it to be legalised as a treatment for terminally ill patients. He died the following year of a brain tumour.
A poll in 2015 showed that the Polish public were strongly in favour of legalising cannabis for medicinal purposes; with 68% backing the policy.
Medicinal cannabis products finally went on sale in 2019. Dr Jerzy Jarosz, a pain specialist and anaesthesiologist at St Krzystof Hospice in Warsaw, commented: “Until now, we had a law that allowed for the use of medical marijuana, but we had no medicine. This is the beginning of a new era for patients.”
However, the government recognises that, in order for their medicinal programme to be successful, education is vital. As such, medical professionals will undergo courses and training to bring their knowledge of cannabis up to date.
Industrial hemp in Poland
Hemp has been grown in Poland for centuries. Known as ‘konopie’, before the 1950s, over 50,000 hectares were devoted to its cultivation, though the industry has been in a slow decline since then. For example, in 1995, only 3,000 hectares were cultivated, and in 2014, this had dropped to just over 100 hectares.
This situation is now being reversed, as Europe’s attitude towards cannabis and hemp is currently going through seismic change. For example, the Swietokrzyskie district increased its area of hemp production by nearly 40% in 2017 alone.
Experts believe that, if recreational cannabis use was decriminalised, Poland’s hemp and cannabis market would become even stronger. It has already been extracting the drugs for other countries for years; and this may present a real economic opportunity for the country.
Good to know
If you are travelling to Poland (or currently live there), you may be interested to know the following:
- Herbal cannabis is the most commonly seized drug in Poland. Cannabis resin (hash) isn’t nearly so popular, and is only the fifth most commonly seized drug.
- 9.8% of young Polish adults (aged between 15 and 34 years) used cannabis in the last year.
- Drugriporter.hu found that 59% of Polish people are against cannabis use and favour a ‘war on drugs’.
Hemp and cannabis have both been grown in Poland for centuries. It’s believed that its usage dates back to the ancient Slavic tribes that settled in the area, and since then, it’s become deeply entrenched in tradition and folklore.
Cannabis Culture magazine stated that older people in Poland are “familiar with the use of cannabis tea as a therapeutic agent and medicine”, and that they are also “well aware that modern Polish hemp varieties don’t produce any significant level of mind-altering substances.” This shows that it’s only recently that attitudes towards cannabis usage have changed.
As said, Poland was once a major producer of hemp, with over 50,000 hectares given over to its cultivation. However, the industry has declined since the 1950s, and at one point, only just over a hundred hectares remained. Wild hemp is still a common sight in the country, though. Most of these short, bushy plants are low in THC.
Attitudes are divided in Poland when it comes to cannabis. While many people use it, some people believe that it shouldn’t be decriminalised. Pro-cannabis rallies have been held in the past, calling for the laws to change; with some ending in multiple arrests.
Many Polish people do recognise the value of medicinal cannabis, however, with a large majority supporting its legalisation. This may be a result it having been used in traditional medicines in Poland in the past.
Will it be legalised in the future?
It’s difficult to predict what the future holds for cannabis in Poland. With other European countries like Portugal decriminalising its recreational use, Poland may well decide to do the same. However, public opinion doesn’t seem to support this notion – so it may remain illegal for a while longer.
As for Poland’s medicinal cannabis industry? If they decide to grow it domestically, this could offer huge economic opportunities. As such, this may be a possibility for the future. Certainly, the country’s hemp industry looks set to take off again, after many years of decline.
- 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.