Cannabis is illegal in Slovenia. The law is lenient with those caught with it for personal use, but far harsher on those who try to sell or distribute it. There isn’t a medical programme in place yet, but talks have been underway to regulate the CBD industry. Some cannabis-based drugs can be obtained on prescription, and CBD and hemp oils are legal.
Cannabis laws in Slovenia
Can you possess and use cannabis in Slovenia?
It’s illegal to possess cannabis in Slovenia. However, personal use of cannabis has been decriminalised. The Production and Trade in Illicit Drugs Act defines this ‘personal use’ as a small quantity for individual use, or a small quantity for those who have opted for medical treatment, or as part of a health / social programme.
Under Article 33 of the Production and Trade in Illicit Drugs Act, possession of cannabis is a minor offence. This means that offenders won’t receive a prison sentence but might have to pay a fine (between €42 and €209). If the individual agrees to enter treatment for cannabis use, or a Ministry of Health / Health Council-approved social security programme, the punishment may be more lenient.
Can you sell cannabis in Slovenia?
Slovenia’s 2008 Criminal Code breaks the sale and supply of cannabis into two criminal offences:
- Manufacture / trafficking of illicit drugs. This includes the sale of cannabis, plus purchasing with intent to sell, and the cultivation of the cannabis.
- Facilitating the consumption of illicit drugs. This includes offering cannabis to others for consumption.
Those caught producing cannabis for sale, or selling it to others, may be given a prison sentence of one to 10 years. This may be extended to three to 15 years if there are aggravating circumstances, such as when vulnerable people were involved or in particular locations.
Those who offer cannabis to others to consume may receive a prison sentence of between six months and eight years. If a vulnerable person is involved (e.g. a minor), or if the offender is abusing their position, the sentence may be extended to between one and 12 years.
Can you grow cannabis in Slovenia?
After Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, it adopted its rules regarding hemp production, and permitted its cultivation. As such, it’s legal to grow cannabis without a licence in the country, providing that it contains less than 0.2% THC (the substance responsible for the ‘high’) and that the cannabis plants aren’t grown in an area larger than 0.1 hectares.
If a farmer wishes to grow low-THC cannabis on land that’s larger than 0.1 hectares, they must obtain a licence from the government. Growing cannabis with high levels of THC is illegal.
Growing a cannabis plant at home in Slovenia is legal, providing it contains 0.2% THC or less.
Is CBD legal in Slovenia?
CBD and hemp oil are both legal in Slovenia. They’re also both easily obtainable and are often used to alleviate symptoms associated with various health conditions. However, as with cannabis cultivation, all CBD or hemp oil must not contain more than 0.2% THC.
Can cannabis seeds be sent to Slovenia?
Although growing cannabis with high levels of THC is illegal, it isn’t illegal to obtain seeds that grow high-THC plants. Any type of seed can be legally purchased and mailed to Slovenia from another country; it’s what you intend to do with those seeds that matters in the eyes of the law.
Medicinal cannabis in Slovenia
Medicinal cannabis is not currently legal in Slovenia, but the government has permitted the use of certain cannabinoid drugs. The drugs that have been approved are Sativex and Marinol. Likewise, it is legal to purchase low-THC CBD oil in the country, and to use it for medical purposes.
Currently, patients can receive a prescription for cannabis-based medical products from their doctor. Most people who do so are in palliative care. Around 160 patients are enrolled in a programme that permits the consumption of dronabinol (Marinol). It’s estimated around 30,000 people in the country self-medicate with CBD oil and similar products.
The legal status of medicinal cannabis may be about to change. In the past, various proposals have been put forward to decriminalise it for medical use, and in 2013, the Slovenian government reclassified cannabinoids as Class II illegal drugs. This meant that cannabinoids could be used for medical purposes, but not cannabis buds. In 2018, MPs put forward a bill to legalise cannabis for all uses; though this wasn’t passed.
Industrial hemp in Slovenia
Industrial hemp cultivation has been legal in Slovenia since they entered the EU in 2004. If growing on less than 0.1 hectares of land, it does not even require a government licence.
Despite this, Slovenia’s hemp producers have struggled to cultivate the crop. Harvesting proved problematic, due to the tough nature of the fibres, which can wrap around the machinery parts. The plants often grow unevenly, with some becoming very tall, which again, causes issues with impurities and loss of crops.
Additionally, most of the strains grown have been imported from other countries. Some are suited to the Slovenian climate, but others aren’t. At this early stage of hemp production in the country, part of the process is inevitably trial and error.
However, some cannabis cultivators are making a success of it. The Country Estate Trnulja is a good example. It sells hemp-based food products and produces dishes featuring hemp in its restaurant.
Slovenia’s political parties and cannabis
The party currently in government (the Modern Centre Party) has a liberal attitude to cannabis. They are also currently considering legalising it for medical purposes. Other parties have echoed their stance, such as the Social Democrats, who also called for its legalisation.
Good to know
If you are travelling to Slovenia (or are a resident of the country), it is useful to know the following:
- Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Slovenia. Herbal cannabis is the drug most commonly seized by the police.
- 10.3% of ‘young adults’ (15-34 years old) use cannabis. It’s more commonly used by men than women.
- Access to prescribed medical cannabis is currently limited. It cannot be obtained from pharmacies and many patients buy their medication from Austria.
Attitudes to cannabis
Generally speaking, Slovenian attitudes towards cannabis are liberal. In the past, several people and organisations have campaigned for the legalisation of cannabis for medical and recreational use. It’s regarded as a ‘young person’s’ drug, with 15% of users being aged 15-24 years old. By contrast, only 0.2% of users are 55 to 64 years old.
Despite the popularity of cannabis, Slovenia isn’t one of the world’s most significant cannabis-smoking nations. In fact, it isn’t even ranked in the top thirty, according to one recent report.
Slovenia’s Cannabis Social Clubs
In various parts of the world where cannabis use has been decriminalised, cannabis social clubs have formed. Slovenia currently has six clubs, which is set to rise to ten, according to Jaka Bitenc, founder of the first cannabis club in the country, Slovenski Konopljin Socialni Klub (SkSk).
These social clubs are usually not-for-profit collective organisations, and only serve their members. The emphasis is on operating transparently and providing a higher-quality product than the black market; which is unregulated and often funds criminal activity.
Cannabis social clubs are often controversial. Some argue that they don’t operate within the law and should be shut down. But technically this isn’t the case in Slovenia, as long as the cannabis grown is distributed equally for personal use.
Campaigning for change
Jaka Bitenc has been an activist for several years. He founded the SkSk as a result of his diabetes, when he sought cannabis treatment to alleviate the symptoms. Now, the SkSk has over 1,000 members, all of whom are registered as using cannabis for medical purposes.
In a 2014 interview, he stated: “The aim of the club is to help medical patients, whom the official medicine cannot help as well as to change the law in such a way that it will allow self-supply of cannabis here in Slovenia.”
Given how pro-cannabis many of the country’s MPs are, it seems likely that the law will change soon, especially with regards to medical usage.
What is Slovenian cannabis like?
The potency of Slovenian cannabis varies considerably, depending on the strain (and quality of cultivation). Official records show that herbal cannabis contains between 3.5% to 38.6% THC, which is incredibly potent. Likewise, resin (or hash), ranges from 0.2% to 38.6%.
Will cannabis be legalised in the future?
Given the present attitudes of politicians, the public and medical professionals alike, it seems likely that cannabis will be fully legalised for medical use in the future.
The International Institute for Cannabinoids (ICANNA) states that the majority of medical practitioners in Slovenia regard cannabis as a ‘medical plant’, and also comment that: “Countries that have legalised and regulated cannabis for medical use have confirmed a decline in the number of prescriptions for drugs treating pain, anxiety, nausea, psychosis, seizures, insomnia and depression, and a reduction of over 25% in opioid overdose deaths.”
It’s harder to predict whether cannabis will be legalised for recreational purposes. Slovenia’s laws are already lenient with regards to personal use, and the government may not deem it necessary to make it fully legal. However, 85% of illicit drugs offences in the country involve cannabis, and most of these cases involve personal use and possession – which is putting more burden on the country’s already overstretched criminal justice system.
As one of Europe’s more liberal countries, Slovenia may be one of the first to legalise personal recreational use entirely, especially if the industry can be regulated by the government.
- 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.