Slovenia, a country well-known for its cultural diversity and its vast cave networks and beautiful nature, is also home to some interesting cannabis laws. As a tourist wandering around the capital Ljubljana or enjoying the Slovenian Adriatic coast, you might be wondering if you’d get in trouble for consuming marijuana.
What is the legal situation of cannabis in Slovenia? Read on to find out.
Drug laws in Slovenia
Slovenia’s laws dictate that the possession of illicit drugs is considered a minor offence and is punishable by a fine. Those who are caught using drugs may receive a more lenient punishment if they join a treatment program approved by the Health Council.
The Slovenian Criminal Code makes a distinction between two types of drug-related offences — producing and trafficking of illegal drugs or precursors for illegal drugs (Article 186) and facilitating the consumption of illegal drugs (Article 187).
According to Art. 186, the manufacture, distribution, sale or purchase of illicit drugs is punishable with one to ten years of imprisonment or three to 15 years of imprisonment if the offence involved aggravating circumstances. Selling drugs near schools or involving children in the drug trade are considered aggravating circumstances.
According to Art. 187, offering illegal drugs for consumption or facilitating the premises for minors to use when consuming drugs are offences punishable with up to eight years of imprisonment, with the mention that facilitating the premises for illegal drug use is not punishable in the context of drug treatment programs or under the supervision of health officials.
The Article also mentions prison punishments of up to 12 years of imprisonment for drug offences involving vulnerable people (e.g. minors) or if the offender was abusing a position of trust.
Recreational cannabis is decriminalised in Slovenia
Possessing a small quantity of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalised, and it’s no longer a felony but a misdemeanour. This means that offenders are no longer punished with prison sentences but may receive a fine of €42 to €209.
The punishment may be more lenient if the offender agrees to enter a social security program.
Cannabis is Slovenia’s most popular drug. About 10.3 percent of young adults aged 15 to 34 admitted to consuming cannabis at least once in 2017. Males between 15 and 24 are the most frequent consumers in the country.
The Slovenian government has been discussing the matter of cannabis legalisation in the last few years, but no clear measures have been proposed so far.
Medical cannabis in Slovenia
Back in 2013, the Slovenian government downgraded cannabis from a Class I drug to a Class II drug, which meant that medical patients would be allowed to access cannabinoid-based medicine, but not cannabis flower. All the following attempts to change the legal status of medical cannabis have failed.
At the moment, patients can access cannabis treatment based on a medical prescription provided by their doctor. Most patients who do so are in palliative care. It’s estimated that 160 patients are enrolled in a cannabis treatment program that allows them to consume dronabinol to soothe their medical conditions.
However, only a few people access cannabis treatments, and patients across Slovenia argue that cannabis-based medicine is difficult to obtain. As a result, some of them travel to Austria to obtain their treatments.
Medical cannabis users are allowed to cultivate a single plant of low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cannabis in their homes, as long as the plant’s THC levels are lower than 0.2 percent.
Hemp in Slovenia
Slovenia adopted the EU’s rules regarding hemp production after joining the Union back in 2004. As a result, it’s now legal to grow cannabis that has a THC content lower than 0.2 percent.
Farmers are allowed to grow hemp without a licence if they cultivate an area that’s smaller than 0.1 hectares or 1,000 square metres. If farmers wants to grow cannabis on a surface larger than 1,000 square metres, they have to register and obtain a licence from the government.
The Slovenian hemp industry is just picking up, so part of the cultivation process still relies on trial and error. However, Slovenia’s farmers are not crazy about hemp, so not many cultivate the crop. Due to its tough fibres, hemp can be difficult to harvest. The plants also grow unevenly, making it difficult to obtain a standardised crop.
In addition, most of the hemp strains cultivated in Slovenia are imported, so they are not suited to the Slovenian climate. Some crops produce disappointing harvests, while others produce harvests that are below the average yield for their particular strain.
That being said, some Slovenian entrepreneurs are successful in cultivating and processing hemp.
Is CBD legal in Slovenia?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is legal in Slovenia if its THC content is lower than 0.2 percent. It’s usually easy to obtain CBD, especially in Ljubljana. Unlike other countries, Slovenia legalised CBD buds along with CBD oil and other CBD-based products.
You can find CBD in retail stores, pharmacies, gas stations and even in bars or coffee shops. Most of the CBD buds sold in Slovenia are produced in Italy, Austria and the rest of the EU because the Slovenian cannabis growing sector is still too small to cover the demand.
The future of cannabis in Slovenia
Slovenia is currently home to cannabis laws that are friendly toward cannabis enthusiasts. The country has decriminalised personal cannabis use, making it a misdemeanour punishable by a fine. And the country’s CBD industry, though small, is clearly picking up.
In the last few years, several NGOs that support cannabis legalisation have pressured Slovenia’s government to adopt a form of legalisation for cannabis, but without noticeable results so far. However, given the country’s permissive stance toward cannabis, Slovenia might adopt a form of cannabis legalisation once another EU country does it successfully.