Romania is famous for being the home of the legendary Dracula and the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. It is also home to amazing landscapes, the largest population of large carnivores, as well as sunny beach resorts and mountain retreats. But what is the legal situation of cannabis in Romania?
As a tourist going to Romania, you might be wondering if smoking marijuana could get you in trouble with the local authorities. Read on to find out more about Romanian cannabis laws.
Drug laws in Romania
Romanian authorities changed the country’s drug laws and linked the penalties for drug-related offences to the type of drug involved in 2014. Offences involving high-risk drugs attract higher penalties than those involving low-risk drugs.
Romanian law also distinguishes between users and addicts and may be more lenient with offenders who are medically diagnosed as drug addicts.
Drug consumption is not allowed in Romania, but the state doesn’t punish consumption. The law makes a clear distinction between possession for personal use and possession with trafficking intent.
An offender who is charged with possession for personal use can receive an administrative fine or be sentenced to a prison sentence of three months to two years for low-risk drugs or six months to three years for high-risk drugs.
The 2014 drug laws specify that drug users who are convicted for personal use offences can avoid punishment by agreeing to attend integrated assistance programs.
All actions related to drug trafficking, including the production and sale of drugs, can lead to prison sentences of two to seven years for low-risk drugs or five to 12 years for high-risk drugs. The import and export of drugs can attract prison sentences of three to 10 or seven to 15 years, depending on the type of drug.
Cannabis laws in Romania
Cannabis is the most popular illegal drug consumed in Romania. According to a survey, 5.8 percent of the country’s young adults aged 15 to 34 consumed cannabis in 2018.
Even though it’s popular among young adults, Romanian authorities adopted a harsh stance on cannabis. There are two laws that govern cannabis — 339/2005, which handles all matters related to cannabis cultivation, and 143/2000, which covers everything related to cannabis as a drug.
According to the first law, cannabis is a plant that can be cultivated under strict control because it may be used in medicine. As a result, the law allows individuals and private entities to cultivate medical cannabis if they manage to get approvals from the Ministry of Health, the National Antidrug Agency (ANA), the Ministry of Justice and the Organized Crime and Terrorism Investigation Agency (DIICOT).
Even though getting a medical cannabis growing permit might sound like a bureaucratic nightmare given how many agencies have to be consulted, the truth of the matter is that it’s still very much illegal to cultivate medical cannabis in Romania.
This is because the second law governing cannabis contradicts the first when it places tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the high-risk drug category, next to heroin or cocaine. As a result, anyone who is caught growing, processing or selling cannabis risks penalties of five to 12 years.
Since THC is the only cannabinoid compound included on the high-risk drug list, growing hemp is legal because hemp has a THC concentration lower than 0.2 percent.
Hemp in Romania
Romania was Europe’s largest producer of hemp before the fall of communism in 1989. But due to the lower demand for hemp products, deteriorating processing facilities and stricter growing regulations, the crop went out of fashion in the 1990s and almost nobody grew it any longer.
However, thanks to the increasing global demand for hemp, farming subsidies and newly constructed processing facilities, the crop is making a comeback. In 2018, Romania’s hemp planted area stretched over 1,454 hectares and that surface increases every year.
Farmers who want to grow hemp have to get a licence. In order to get a licence, they have to present a lab report for the hemp seeds they’re about to plant, a document proving that the land they’re about to cultivate is owned by them and a contract for the plant matter they’re about to produce, even before they plant it.
Fortunately, the Agricultural Research and Development Center in Secuieni can provide the lab analysis and local producers are more than happy to buy hemp matter.
Farmers have to submit the documents to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and also inform the Organized Crime department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs that they’re going to plant hemp. The Organized Crime officers only allow farmers who have clean criminal records and surround their plots of land with fences or hire full-time security services to oversee the crops to plant hemp.
Medical cannabis in Romania
Even though Romania passed a law to legalise medical cannabis back in 2013, cannabis-based medicine never reached the shelves of Romanian pharmacies because cannabis is still on the list of high-risk drugs, which makes selling cannabis drugs illegal by default.
In November 2019, Romanian authorities adopted a draft law that would create the framework for medical cannabis distribution. The draft law was adopted by the Senate after Alexandra Ana Cârstea, the daughter of a woman who died after a long battle with cancer, raised over 20,000 signatures on a petition demanding medical cannabis medicine for patients suffering from terminal diseases.
The Agency would oversee the medical cannabis industry and would ensure that the production, processing and distribution of medical cannabis within Romania is done according to European standards. The state would also create a National Registry that would include cannabis producers, processors and distributors.
The draft mentions that cannabis could be included in oil-based medicine, infusions and inhaled medications. The draft also specifies that smokable cannabis will not be allowed.
CBD in Romania
Cannabidiol (CBD) is legal in Romania in all of its forms, as long as its THC concentration is lower than 0.2 percent. You can buy CBD online, in pharmacies or in headshops.
The future of cannabis in Romania
Cannabis has been cultivated in Romania since ancient times. In fact, archaeological evidence from Frumușica and Gurbănești shows that people living in this area have been using cannabis for its psychoactive properties as far back as 7,000 to 8,000 B.C.
But, as in most ex-communist countries, there’s a huge difference between the old and young generations when it comes to cannabis. Most older Romanians see cannabis as a gateway drug and may be reluctant to try cannabis-based medicine. On the other hand, the younger generations have been exposed to cannabis and are aware of its pros and cons.
Romania has adopted a harsh stance on cannabis, and that’s not about to change soon. The fact that the country passed a law that legalised cannabis medicine only on paper in 2013 and didn’t create a framework for cannabis-based medicine until civic groups demanded it speaks volumes about how much attention lawmakers pay to this topic.
And even though the Romanian Senate passed a draft law, the country’s Chamber of Deputies can stall for a long time before passing it, so medical cannabis may reach pharmacy shelves years from now.