Cannabis in Poland – Laws, Use, and History

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.

    • Capital
    • Warszawa (Warsaw)
    • Population
    • 37,942,000
    • CBD Products
    • Legal under 0.2% THC
    • Recreational cannabis
    • Illegal
    • Medicinal cannabis
    • Illegal

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?

Polish law permits the sale and purchase of cannabis seeds, and they can be sent through the post. They can’t be germinated or used to grow plants, but can be bought as a ‘collector’s item’.

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:

Cannabis history

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.

Cultural attitudes

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.

Comments

11 thoughts on “Cannabis in Poland – Laws, Use, and History”

  1. polish citizen

    Dont belive it people. Poland didnt decriminalise weed. That law is fake. Prosecutors here are bad, they wont use it. People are still getting arrested and prosecuted for 1gram and less. If you come here to poland allways hide your weed, never ever let police find it on you. First they take you to police station and try to get information where you got it from, if you dont talk they will use light form of tortures like slaping and choking then after 48 hours they will prosecute you. Usually penalties are like 1-2years suspended for 3 years for 0.5-1g
    If ammount is bigger like 5g you can go to jail. Thats it, dont belive it it can cost you a lot.

  2. DexterSinister

    We’re interested to see how this turns out!

    Apparently, Janusz Palikot the head of one of Poland's liberal party is planning to smoke a joint in parliament today (20 Jan 2012). We wish him all the best in his endeavour!

  3. DexterSinister

    Looks like Polish Citizen was right. Oh well. We wish Polish cannabis enthusiasts all the best in continuing the fight against prohibition.

    "Prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether Palikot broke a law against “promoting or advertising’’ drugs with his threat to smoke pot in Parliament, the news agency PAP reported. That is a crime that could carry a prison sentence of up to a year."

  4. John kooper

    Marijuana is a plant God created on earth for you and me it also helps as herb for the treatment of certain ailments I don’t see why the law made by man should stop people from consuming what the Almighty created I say its not right that why we must join together and say no to this laws.

      1. Darling, Opium is gathered with man made intervention it doesn’t naturally occur you have to cut the opium plant and try excrete a drug that would never naturally occur in the wild. Darling, Tobacco is also man made Darling, so i think you need to inform yourself before acting obnoxious because you come across as stupid, Darling. THAAAANKS

  5. Scott anderson

    Ummm… Jarislaw kaczynski is not, and never has been the president of Poland.

  6. Zenon from Poland

    Drug policy in Poland is probably the most repressive one in Europe in 2017, maybe even in the world.
    Cannabis here is very heavily criminalised. Police try to catch every single cannabis user. No distinction between cannabis and heroin, amphetamines, etc..
    Possession of even the smallest amount of cannabis ( for example 0,05 of a gram !! ) is always prosecuted without any exception! Your home, usually also your friends homes, will get searched.
    In every single case of possession it’s only up to prosecutor to decide if it’s a ‘small’ or a ‘large’ amount (no precise limit is set), and also – separately – if it’s for ”personal’ use or for ‘drug dealing’.
    Dropping the charge (recent fake ‘decriminalisation’) is theoretically possible, but only in one case:
    – possession of a ‘small’ amount,
    – for ‘personal’ use,
    – you have a good lawyer and a good reputation
    – it’s your first serious offence
    all of the above at the same time. However prosecutor does not have to drop the charge (and is unlikely to do so), so usually you’ll get a suspended prison sentence or a fine. Some people were prosecuted and sentenced because of 0,05 of a gram of cannabis! Abusive, manipulative interrogation is rather common.
    ‘Large’ amounts (usually over 2-4 grams), any cultivation, any ‘drug dealing’ (e.g. sharing a joint/spliff) are punished with a long prison sentences. Medicinal cannabis is very hard to get by seriously ill people. Activism is often oppressed and under surveillance. Democracy in Poland in general is in serious crisis.

  7. Warszawianin

    The enforcement of law depends on the area but usually is heavy. For example, Warsaw is not as strict as most of other cities but still you have to be careful with any amounts of weed. Many policeman in Warsaw does’nt really bother too much about weed but as it’s illegal they have to stop you anytime they find it on you so just use common sense. There are situations when police let you go with 2 grams, or just see that you are smoking and pretends to not see it, but if it happen to you that means you just been lucky as it’s not a standard police attitude… Usually they are not so nice. Cases for possession of small amounts are usually dropped by persecutor up to 3 grams if for personal use. They wan’t to know where did you get it but just as simple lie as buying at the market or somewhere else in city is enough not to bother you for it. Policy in Warsaw is quiet liberal comparing to other polish cities. For example in Białystok if they suspect that you may have weed they may do anything to catch you.

  8. In my area they generally tolerate cannabis, they dont bother if you smoke or have up to 5 grams. You can also buy cannabis in 20+ stationery shops “from under the table” even in Tesco. And it’s cheap – 25 PLN if you buy 1 gram and 15 PLN if you buy 50 grams or more. In my city noone got prison sentence for cannabis or any other kind of drug. For dealing it’s always suspended sentence and you can get it multiple times. However, even it’s accessible the usage is very low as well other drugs. It’s really marginal. Most of the users are tourist and they are always punished even for the remains in grinder. We are also major producer of cannabis in country so there are checks on the road including buses and trains to catch the smugglers and they always get prison sentence. The locals are not punished.

  9. In my city (western Poland) I heard about situations, when prosecutor and judge didn’t prosecuted you, if had amounts even like 7-10 grams.
    Increasingly policemans, mainly young, don’t wanna catch a people who has little weed, unfortunately they’ve such presept from chief.
    From year to year is more extinctions.
    If You’re in western Poland, or Warsaw and You’ll catch witch 1 gram, You’ve 90% chance that they not prosecute You.
    A society things too getting better about cannabis/marijuana, they don’t see yet a but drug, but something better, what You can use like a medicine.
    In this year a Polish gov meybe legalised industrial hemp with amount up to 1% THC.

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