Penalties for Cannabis Use, Possession and Supply in Europe — Part 1

In the past few years, a lot has happened in the legislative world in regard to cannabis. Many states introduced laws that legalised or decriminalised marijuana, be it for recreational or medical purposes. However, even though there has been a lot of progress, marijuana is still mostly illegal, especially in Europe. So, you might be wondering, what are the penalties for cannabis in Europe?

Well, with the advent of medicinal marijuana and cannabidiol (CBD), there is another level of unclarity added on top of the already confusing legislative landscape of cannabis in Europe. Especially with CBD looking and smelling exactly like regular marijuana, even though it lacks the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the high that is commonly associated with cannabis.

Related: The Legal Situation of Hemp, Marijuana and CBD in the EU in 2019

But that’s not what this article is going to cover. This article is about the penalties that you could get for possessing, selling or consuming marijuana in Europe. So, to shine a light on the matter, and to make this chaos more accessible for our readers, Strain Insider created a comprehensive overview of the cannabis-related penalties in Europe.

One thing that is pretty interesting to note but won’t be covered by this list is that most of the European nations have laws that favour addicts, meaning that the legislation often provides the option to go to treatment instead of receiving a penalty.

The list is sorted alphabetically and includes all the countries in Europe from A to H, the rest of the countries will be covered in part two. The data was sourced from the website of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). That being said, let’s dive right in.

 

Austria

What is the penalty for the use of cannabis in Austria?

The use of cannabis is not an offence in Austria. Therefore, there is no penalty for cannabis use.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Austria?

In Austria, possession of cannabis for personal use is punishable by a fine or up to six months imprisonment.

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Austria?

In general, the supply of cannabis for gain in public is punishable by up to two years imprisonment. However, depending on the circumstances and quantity, the punishment can be up to 10, 15 or 20 years imprisonment and even up to life imprisonment. Recidivism also leads to a higher penalty.

 

Belgium

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Belgium?

The use of cannabis is not an offence in Belgium. Therefore, there is no penalty for cannabis use.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Belgium?

The possession of marijuana for personal use is punishable by three months to five years in prison or a fine. Possession of cannabis for personal use, without nuisance, may receive a fine based on a ‘simplified police report’. The fine is €90 to €150 for the first offence and €156 to €300 for the second offence within one year from the first conviction.

For any offence within one year from the second conviction, the punishment is eight days to one month of imprisonment. Ministerial directives state that possession of cannabis for personal use should be given the lowest prosecution priority.

Cannabis-related offences causing public disorder (i.e. possession in school, public facilities, prison) are punishable by three months to one year in prison.

What is the penalty for the sale or supply of cannabis in Belgium?

In Belgium, cannabis supply is a criminal offence punished by three months to five years imprisonment. Imprisonment is extended to five to 10, 10 to 15 or 15 to 20 years with aggravating circumstances.

 

Bulgaria

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Bulgaria?

The use of cannabis is punished by a fine from €1,022 (BGN 2,000) to €2,556 (BGN 5,000), no detention measures are provided by the Bulgarian law.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Bulgaria?

The possession of cannabis is punishable by a fine from €1,022 (BGN 2,000) to €2,556 (BGN 5,000) and imprisonment of one to six years.

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Bulgaria?

Cannabis supply is a criminal offence punished by imprisonment. The length of imprisonment for supply of cannabis is two to eight years, with the penalty ranges extending to three to 12 years and further to five to 15 years for larger amounts.

In case of recidivism, the punishment increases to five to 15 years imprisonment and a fine of €10,226 (BGN 20,000) to €51,131 (BGN 100,000).

 

Croatia

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Croatia?

The use of marijuana in public is punishable with a fine of roughly €100.

What is the penalty for the possession of cannabis in Croatia?

In Croatia, possession of marijuana for personal use is a non-criminal misdemeanour that is punishable by a fine of €650 (HRK 5,000) to €2,600 (HRK 20,000).

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Croatia?

The sale of cannabis and possession with intent to sell is punished by one to 12 years imprisonment. When aggravating circumstances, such as selling cannabis to a child or in educational premises, occur, the punishment range increases to three to 15 years imprisonment.

 

Cyprus

What is the penalty for the use of cannabis in Cyprus?

The use of recreational marijuana is a criminal offence in Cyprus and is punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment. However, the punishment may not be more than one year in prison for a first time offender under the age of 25.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Cyprus?

The possession of recreational marijuana is a criminal offence punishable by up to eight years imprisonment. However, the punishment may not be more than one year in prison for a first time offender under the age of 25 if the offence was related to personal use.

What is the penalty for the sale or supply of cannabis in Cyprus?

The sale of marijuana is a criminal offence punishable by a fine and or up to life imprisonment.

 

Czechia

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Czechia?

The use of cannabis is not an offence in Czechia. Therefore, there is no penalty for cannabis use.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Czechia?

The possession of a small amount of cannabis for private use is a misdemeanour that is punished by a fine of up to €580 (15,000 CZK). The possession of a ‘quantity greater than small’ is punished by up to one year of imprisonment. This increases to six months to five years for a ‘large’ amount of cannabis and even to two to eight years for a ‘significant’ amount.

What is the penalty for the sale or supply of cannabis in Czechia?

Supply of cannabis is a criminal offence punishable by one to five years imprisonment. The punishment range extends to two to 10, eight to 12 or 10 to 18 years of imprisonment in case of aggravating circumstances. It also increases to two to 10 years imprisonment for the second offence committed within three years of a previous conviction.

 

Denmark

What is the penalty for the use of cannabis in Denmark?

The use of cannabis is not an offence. Therefore, there is no penalty for cannabis use.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Denmark?

Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment. A warning can be issued if possession is a result of dependence.

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Denmark?

Supply of cannabis in Denmark is punished by imprisonment of up to two years. When larger quantities are sold, the penalty increases to up to 10 to 16 years imprisonment.

 

Estonia

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Estonia?

The consumption of marijuana is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine of up to 200 fine units (about €800) or by administrative detention of up to 30 days in the police arrest house.

What is the penalty for the possession of cannabis in Estonia?

In Estonia, the possession of cannabis is a misdemeanor that is punishable by a fine of up to 200 fine units (about €800) or by administrative detention of up to 30 days in the police arrest house.

What is the penalty for the sale or supply of cannabis in Estonia?

Supply of cannabis is punished by a fine or up to three years imprisonment. If the act is repeated, this turns into a fine or up to five years imprisonment. Trafficking large quantities of marijuana is punishable by one to 10 years imprisonment, and three to 15 years in case of a repeat offence.

If supply is done for the purpose of a large gain, the maximum penalty is six to 20 years or life imprisonment. Importing or exporting cannabis is punished by a fine or up to five years imprisonment.

 

Finland

What is the penalty for the use of cannabis in Finland?

In Finland, the use of marijuana is a criminal offence that is punishable by a fine or by imprisonment of up to six months.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Finland?

The possession of marijuana is punishable by a fine or by imprisonment of up to two years (six months for small amounts).

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Finland?

Cannabis supply is punished by up to two years imprisonment in Finland. The penalty range increases to one to 10 years in cases of supply of a large quantity.

 

France

What is the penalty for the use of cannabis in France?

The use of cannabis is a criminal offence in France that is punishable by a fine of €3,750 and imprisonment of one year. If this offence is committed by a public servant on duty or someone in charge of a form of transport that endangers safety, the maximum penalty rises to five years and a fine of €7,500.

The penalty is doubled in case of recidivism within five years.

What is the penalty for the possession of cannabis in France?

The French law does not distinguish between the possession of marijuana for personal use or for trafficking. In practice, based on the quantity of cannabis found, possession is mostly charged as the crime of use of drugs, therefore punished by up to one year in prison. However, the possession of narcotic drugs, which cannabis is classified as, is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to €7.5 million.

The prosecutor can choose this charge even for the possession of a small quantity of marijuana. The penalty is doubled in case of recidivism within five years.

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in France?

Cannabis supply is punished by up to 10 years imprisonment. Selling cannabis to a person for their use is punished by up to five years imprisonment.

These penalties get doubled in case of recidivism within five years.

 

Germany

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Germany?

The use of cannabis is not an offence in Germany. Therefore, there is no penalty for cannabis use.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Germany?

The possession of cannabis is punished by imprisonment of up to five years or a fine. Prosecution may be refrained if the offender’s guilt is minor, if there is no public interest in the offence and if the marijuana was only intended for personal use.

The court may also abstain from sentencing on the same premises.

What is the penalty for the sale or supply of cannabis in Germany?

In Germany, the penalty for a basic cannabis supply offence is up to five years imprisonment. Penalties in particularly serious cases are elevated to one to 15 years for actions involving minors or trading significant quantities and to two to 15 years for involving minors on a commercial basis or importing significant quantities of cannabis.

 

Greece

What is the punishment for the use of cannabis in Greece?

The use of cannabis is prohibited and punished by up to five months of imprisonment. If the court believes that the act was anecdotal and unlikely to be repeated, the offender can go unpunished.

A punishment that is imposed on a drug user shall not be included in the copies of his or her criminal record.

What is the penalty for the possession of cannabis in Greece?

The possession of cannabis for personal use is punished by up to five months of imprisonment. If the court believes that the act was anecdotal and unlikely to be repeated, the offender can go unpunished.

A punishment that is imposed on an offender for possessing cannabis for personal use shall not be included in the copies of his or her criminal record. The cultivation of cannabis can be classified as personal use offence in Greece.

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Greece?

Supply of cannabis is punished by at least eight years imprisonment. Recidivists, cases involving public or medical officials or designated places such as schools are punished by at least 10 years imprisonment. In Greece, professional cannabis trafficking with profits over €75,000 is punished by up to life imprisonment.

 

Hungary

What is the penalty for the use of cannabis in Hungary?

The use of marijuana is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment.

What is the punishment for the possession of cannabis in Hungary?

The possession of a small amount of marijuana is punishable by up to two years of imprisonment. Basic possession is punishable by one to five years imprisonment.

What is the punishment for the sale or supply of cannabis in Hungary?

Cannabis supply is punished by two to eight years of imprisonment. If a substantial quantity of cannabis is involved, this penalty increases to five to 20 years imprisonment or, potentially, even life imprisonment.

If a smaller quantity is involved, the punishment is only an imprisonment of up to two years. These penalties are increased if minors are involved.

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