Growing your own cannabis is the best way to ensure the purity and quality of the product you are consuming. This is why many people seek to cultivate the plant on their own. However, due to the laws regulating cannabis in their country, many Europeans are facing heavy punishments when participating in this procedure. But what are the best countries to grow cannabis in Europe?
The cultivation of marijuana is still illegal in nearly every European country and is often penalised with hefty fines or imprisonment. However, some countries are more lenient in terms of enforcement or sanctions placed upon individuals if they are caught with cannabis plants. Here is a comprehensive list of the best places to grow marijuana inside the confines of Europe.
1. The Netherlands
While it is definitely still considered a role model for a functioning model of decriminalisation in Europe, cannabis is not yet legalised to a full extent in the Netherlands. The cultivation still remains illegal but, as long as an individual keeps their grow at five plants or less, the government immediately dismisses any cases related to professional trading.
Additionally, it regards the plant as intended for personal use only and treats the incident similar to the possession of a small quantity of marijuana. The grower will be forced to cease his growing activities and forfeit his plants, but will most likely not be prosecuted and does not have to face legal consequences.
As one of the former biggest producers of hemp, Ukraine has very liberal laws regarding the possession and cultivation of cannabis. As long as no intent to sell the product is provable, growing up to 10 plants is considered to be an administrative violation and is only punishable by a fine. The plants have to be forfeited but no further legal consequences follow a conviction. Those laws make Ukraine a quite interesting place for every aspiring grower.
The generous limit of 10 plants should suffice for the production of enough marijuana to satisfy the needs of even the more excessive smokers and, as long as nothing of the harvested material is sold, the cannabis enthusiasts of Ukraine have nothing to worry about. The government is very open-minded and tolerant towards the herb, and it is even considering to raise the limit for possession from 5 to 10 grams.
3. Czech Republic
In 2010, the Czech Republic adopted laws that reduced the possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use to a civil offence. Carrying up to 10 grams of marijuana or growing up to five plants will only be punished by a fine up to CZK 15,000 (approximately EUR 590), but the fines rarely reach that limit. As cannabis is easy to come by in the Czech Republic, the government has adopted these rules to help law enforcement combat serious drug traffickers and dealers. For the individual, this means that growing cannabis is relatively risk-free, and the five plant limit, as well as the relatively low fines, allow for everyone to fully cover their needs for personal consumption without having to fear imprisonment or financial instability following a conviction.
So far, this model has proven to be effective, as law enforcement can allocate its resources towards the more serious problem of drug trafficking, which remains a crime with a minimum penalty of two years in prison and a maximum sentence of 18 years. This acts as a deterrent for dealers and encourages people to grow their own cannabis, further diminishing the income of professional drug traffickers.
As reported by Reuters, on the 19th of December, Italy’s Supreme Court has declared the cultivation of cannabis on a small scale for personal use to be exempt from the penal code, allowing residents to grow their own cannabis, with a final verdict on the implementation coming in the following weeks or months. It is still unclear how many plants each citizen will be allowed to nurture.
The Court of Cassation only stated that ‘small amounts grown domestically for the exclusive use of the grower’ are going to be legal, based on the decision of the Supreme Court. This list will be updated when it becomes clear exactly what rights the Italian citizens are granted and the new law is taking effect.
When Spain introduced article 368 in the Penal Code, it declared growing marijuana as illegal if it is going to be sold illegally. However, the definition is ambiguous. No clear statement is made about the cultivation for personal use.
This means that, in real-world appliance, the judge responsible for prosecution has to decide whether to punish or acquit the accused individual. This loophole creates a situation where the cultivation is not technically legal but also not considered punishable.
The laws in Belgium are pretty straight forward. Products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are illegal, yet, every resident is allowed to grow one plant in their home without facing any legal consequences. Many people in Belgium have started to make use of this law, but, according to the government, this has not yet led to problematic situations.
The government vowed to regulate the use of cannabis more strictly if issues should arise. In 2005, the government allowed the prosecution of individuals if they possess more than 3 grams or grow more than one plant. The only exception to the relaxed, nation-wide rules is the city of Antwerp, which issues fines for anyone caught with marijuana, regardless of the amount.
Cannabis is strictly illegal in Malta, and possession is still an arrestable offence, with fines for small amounts and imprisonment for larger quantities. Even the forced entry into rehabilitation programs is a possibility for repeat offenders, and there are severe punishments if the mandated conditions are not met. Despite these strict laws, Malta allows its residents to cultivate one plant in their homes without having to fear legal repercussions.
The size of the plant and the yield produced by it are irrelevant, as long as it still remains only one plant. Growing two seedlings, even if they are tiny, carries a mandatory prison sentence of at least six months. These bizarre laws have often been criticised since their implementation in 2014, yet, the government has not revealed any plans on changing its stance towards marijuana any time soon.
Although cannabis is highly illegal in Armenia and cultivation is punished by imprisonment, often for long periods of time, the plant naturally occurs there. Despite government efforts to eradicate the indigenous cannabis plants, the country is still flooded with cheap marijuana, and plants can be found growing all across the country.
This makes Armenia the perfect place to start an outdoor grow, as it is nearly impossible for law enforcement to link plants growing in the wild to individuals.
Austria’s laws regulating cannabis are quite interesting and very tolerant, but the herb still remains illegal. In 2016, the government shifted its focus from punishing offenders to helping them instead. The possession of small amounts is no longer being prosecuted, under the condition that the culprit cooperates with the public health authority to find a solution for each individual.
The cultivation of cannabis is legal for everyone as long as no THC is present. On the one hand, the threshold for legal THC amounts in a plant is currently 0.3 percent, meaning only CBD or industrial hemp is legal to be cultivated. On the other hand, this means that plants are only illegal the moment they cross the threshold for THC, which only occurs during the flowering phase. This greatly reduces the risk of a conviction, as every plant is completely legal during its vegetative state and law enforcement can only act upon the plants they find if they happen to produce flowers at that time.
Further, the reference used to determine the amount of cannabis is measured in pure THC present, regardless of the weight of the plant or flowers. Every amount lower than 20 grams of THC or 40 grams of THCA is considered to be intended for personal use. On top of that, stores are even allowed to sell marijuana plants, as long as they are not yet flowering, making it easy for novices to grow and cut time on the vegetative phase. The very tolerant limit and the fact that law enforcement is willing to dismiss prosecution in favour of treatment make Austria a very interesting place for german-speaking cannabis enthusiasts.
An honourable mention, which would have ranked highly on this list only a few years back, is Switzerland. A loophole in Switzerland’s drug enforcement laws basically allowed anyone over the age of 18 to grow cannabis without any legal consequences at all. The country was, and partially still is today, flooded with cheap marijuana.
However, once Switzerland decided to join the UN, it adopted the UN’s mandated rules and, in 2002, cannabis was criminalised again. Today, rules are a bit more tolerant, as the legal limit for THC present in cannabis products is set at a relatively high 1 percent, exceeding the standard of 0.2 to 0.3 percent most countries with legal low-THC cannabis products allow.
Another country that is worth mentioning, and could even lead this list in the future, is Luxembourg. The government has revealed its plans to legalise cannabis consumption as well as the production of marijuana for the national market.
‘This drug policy we had over the last 50 years did not work, … I’m hoping all of us will get a more open-minded attitude towards drugs‘, said Etienne Schneider, Deputy Prime Minister of Luxembourg.
It is unclear, however, whether the cultivation for personal use will be permitted, as the country intends to focus on a highly regulated legal market.
Closing thoughts on the best countries to grow cannabis in Europe
Overall, the legal situation surrounding cannabis in Europe is still looking very bleak, as many countries are still chasing down individual marijuana users who only seek to cultivate their herb in private, while overseas, in the USA, Canada or Uruguay, people are enjoying their new-found freedom. However, the countries listed above and the advances made all around the globe spark new hope in every cannabis enthusiast longing to start his or her own grow.
That being said, until it is generally legalised in Europe, it is best to know what consequences are to be faced in case any plants are discovered by law enforcement and if that risk is worth taking.