Hungary is a popular tourist destination for tourists all over the world. From its relaxed and sometimes isolated thermal springs to the vibrant, crowded Budapest, Hungary has something to offer for anyone who visits. But what about cannabis in Hungary?
As a tourist going to Hungary, you might be wondering if you could get into legal trouble for enjoying weed on your vacation. What’s the legal situation of marijuana in Hungary? Read on to find out.
Drug laws in Hungary
Hungary updated its drug laws back in 2013. Unlike other countries, Hungary hardened its drug laws and opted to classify all drug-related activities as criminal offences.
Drug consumption is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years of imprisonment. Drug possession is always punishable, even if the offender is caught with small quantities of drugs intended for personal use. Being caught with small quantities of drugs can lead to prison sentences of up to two years.
Basic drug offences can attract prison sentences of one to five years. If offenders committed the offence under aggravating circumstances, their sentence can be extended to up to eight years of imprisonment.
Offenders who are caught with large quantities of drugs can be sentenced to up to 10 years of imprisonment or 15 years of imprisonment if they commit the offences under aggravating circumstances.
Drug supply offences can lead to prison sentences of up to 20 years under certain circumstances, and they can even lead to life imprisonment if there are large quantities of drugs involved. However, it’s worth noting that life imprisonment sentences are virtually abolished in Hungary, despite the fact that they still exist in the legal system.
Since the Hungarian government updated the country’s drug laws in 2013, drug users may receive the same sentences as other offenders. That being said, the court may still take the offender’s drug addiction into consideration when deliberating a sentence, even though they’re not legally required to.
Those who commit small drug offences may receive an option to seek treatment instead of going to prison. In this case, the prosecution may be suspended. However, this option is not available for those who were convicted of other crimes in the previous two years and received suspended sentences.
Drug offences in Hungary
Hungarian drug laws may seem stricter than in those of other EU countries, but the reality is that they are rarely enforced to the letter.
Even though possessing and consuming a small amount of drugs can lead to prison sentences of up to two years, first-offenders may avoid court procedures by attending consultation programs that last about six months.
This legal loophole can be very useful for foreign tourists who commit drug-related offences because some prosecutors may allow them to participate in consultation programs abroad, especially if the offender resides in an EU member state.
It’s also worth knowing what Hungarian authorities consider a ‘small amount’ of drugs. Because, according to Hungarian drug laws, only the active substance of each drug is considered illegal.
As a result, law enforcement officers send all the drugs they seize to forensic laboratories in order to determine how much pure substance they contain. If the quantity of the pure drug is considered a small amount, the offender may receive a sentence of up to two years of imprisonment. If the quantity of the active substance is larger than the admissible limits, the offender may be sent to prison for up to 20 years.
Here is what the Hungarian law enforcement agencies classify as small amounts of drugs:
- Cannabis — up to 6 grams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — about 60g of weed with 10 percent purity
- Amphetamines — up to 0.5 grams of active substance — about 5g of drugs with 10 percent purity
- Cocaine — up to 2 grams of active substance — about 10g of drugs with 20 percent purity
- Heroin — up to 0.6 grams of active substance — about 3g of drugs with 18 percent purity
- MDMA — up to 1 gram of active substance — about 1.6g of drugs with 60 percent purity
Cannabis in Hungary
Cannabis is the most popular illegal drug in Hungary, with 3.5 percent of the population aged 15 to 34 having admitted to using cannabis at least once in 2017. Cannabis is very much illegal in Hungary, and it’s not differentiated from other drugs.
Possessing small amounts of cannabis or using cannabis can be punished with prison sentences of up to two years. However, Hungarian cannabis enthusiasts report that law enforcement agents tend to be more lenient with cannabis users than with other drug users.
But that shouldn’t encourage anyone to buy or smoke cannabis in Hungary. Law enforcement agents have the legal right to ask for your ID and search you, your vehicle and your belongings if they suspect you of being high. Simple physical signs, such as having red eyes or having an accelerated pulse, can be interpreted as suspicious, so Hungarian law enforcement agents can basically search you and your belongings at any given moment.
If the agents find cannabis in your possession, they may initiate a legal process that involves taking you to the station to take your statement. At the station, you would also be legally required to provide a sample of blood or urine, which the agents will send to a laboratory.
It’s worth noting that your admission to using drugs prior to being apprehended can be used as proof and can arbitrarily increase the amount of drugs ‘seized’ on your body based on an estimate that may or may not be accurate.
Medical cannabis in Hungary
Medical cannabis is legal in Hungary, but it can only be recommended as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). And even though it’s legal to use cannabis as medicine, Hungary doesn’t have a medical cannabis program.
Since there is no such thing as a national medical cannabis program, doctors don’t really have a reason to study the pros and cons of cannabis treatments because medical cannabis is difficult, if not impossible, to access.
The Hungarian Medical Cannabis Association (MOKE) is intending to convince the country’s lawmakers to regulate the medical cannabis market, but that approach hasn’t been successful so far.
Hemp in Hungary
Despite the fact that people have been growing hemp in Hungary for centuries, the crop went out of fashion during the communist era. However, thanks to the increased international demand for hemp and hemp-based products, the current production of industrial cannabis in Hungary is on the rise.
Hungary allows the processing of hemp for the production of CBD oil.
CBD in Hungary
CBD products are legal in Hungary as long as their THC content is lower than 0.2 percent. You can buy CBD in pharmacies, online and in headshops.
Unfortunately, as is the case in most European countries, the Hungarian CBD industry is not regulated, and there are a lot of scammers and low-quality products on the market. You should do some research before buying a product.
The future of cannabis in Hungary
Cannabis use is still frowned upon by most Hungarians. People often see it as a gateway drug and don’t see the potential benefits this plant may bring to those who could use it as medicine.
Even though medical cannabis is legal, cannabis-based medicine is impossible to find in Hungary because the country doesn’t have a medical cannabis program. Most Hungarian doctors are not aware that cannabis can be used as medicine in certain conditions, and, without a national program, the chances of them recommending cannabis-based medicine to patients suffering from MS or Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS) are extremely slim.
Given the country’s tough stance on drugs, it’s difficult to say if the authorities will regulate the medical cannabis industry or ignore it completely in the following years.