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You could say that weed in Greece is currently half legal. Greece legalized medicinal weed in June of 2017, but has not yet legalized recreational weed. Greece considered the medical step a necessary reform for a modern country. Not a bad way to look at things if you ask me.
However, recreational marijuana is still largely illegal, though this may not be the case for long. Despite the modern political attitude towards cannabis, Greece is still peppered with stigma. Social attitudes aren’t always as easy to sway.
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Medicinal Weed In Greece
For the last three years, medical weed has been legal in the country of Greece. Some cannabis products and medicines are imported from other countries, however Greece now has a thriving cultivation base of its own.
In 2018 the government reconsidered bans on cultivation and production, allowing medical cannabis to be supplied from within the country. Following these repeals, more cannabis outlets had the chance to provide customers with medicinal cannabis. Three separate licenses from the Greek government are required. The company must be legally established, and they must then apply for operations and medicinal licenses.
Compared to some countries and regions, Greece’s medical marijuana program is quite restricted. Unless you have a commercial license, growing is still completely illegal and restricted. The list of qualifying conditions for the program is:
- Chronic Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Neuropathy Pain
New Industry For A New Economy
Greece is well known for its debt crisis in 2009. The country was beyond broke. The government, voiced by economic minister Stergios Pitsiorlas, told reporters that medicinal marijuana would have a substantial impact on the Greek economy. This does not seem far fetched in the least. Many countries have received a large economic boost after the legalization of medicinal marijuana. In just eight years time the medical marijuana industry in Greece could be worth two billion euros.
The cannabis industry has also created huge numbers of jobs for the Greek population. After the industrial production of cannabis was legalized, thousands of positions opened up. The investment capital generated from this bold move is expected to sit at around 185 million euros. From just the first two investments in cannabis production, the industry received 22 million euros and created 117 jobs. The cannabis industry could certainly prove to be a saving grace for the Greek economy. Of course, the industry is still very new, however, it’s adding money and jobs to the economy, two crucial ingredients for a recovery.
Recreational Weed Laws In Greece
Though the supply and distribution of weed is absolutely not legal in Greece, attitudes towards personal use are less strict. In 2013 the Greek government loosened its iron grip on personal recreational marijuana use. Now the maximum penalty for being caught with small amounts of cannabis is 5 months in prison. Still not the most lenient EU drug laws (not by a long shot), but better than they used to be. The offense will not be marked as a felony or added to your criminal record. This may change if the offense is repeated within 5 years. The severity of the punishment will depend on the amount of cannabis confiscated and various other circumstances.
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If a recreational user is caught with a small amount of cannabis they may be referred to a special treatment unit. This is essentially a rehabilitation program for drug users and will depend upon the judge. Users undergoing treatment may have their sentencing or penalties suspended. If you are convicted of supply and distribution, the penalty is likely far harsher and may be up to 8 years, depending on the unique circumstances of the defendant.
Since the legalization of medicinal cannabis, CBD products have become more popular in Greece. These products must not contain THC levels over 0.2%. Using CBD without prior approval is still very much a gray area in Greece, similar to a lot of Europe.
Greece Weed History
During the 19th century, Greece was one of many countries that enjoyed thriving hemp and hash industries. However, as time moved on and the 1800’s came to a close, Greece outlawed the plant, despite the fact that it remained largely in use well into the second world war.
If we want to get right into the history of weed in Greece we can go much further back. Cannabis was popular for both medicinal and recreational use as far back as 450 – 420 BCE. Ancient Greeks were big fans of the magical herb. Many references to the use of hemp have been found in the notes of Herodotus, a Greek historian.
He noted that Scythians added cannabis to hot rocks in the bathhouses and that they would “shout for joy”. The same plants were often used as offerings to the deceased royals. The ancient Greeks would also use cannabis to fashion poultices to reduce joint pain, ear pain, and flatulence. Scholars believed that they used cannabis to treat their pets and livestock too.
Unfortunately, modern Greeks do not seem to share their ancient ancestor’s affinity for the plant. Though the country enjoys a thriving underground and medicinal cannabis scene, there is still a lot of stigma around the recreational use of cannabis. As discussed earlier, the laws, though lenient in comparison to previous ones, are still extremely strict. This social distaste can lead to those who wish to use recreational cannabis into more unsafe areas. Typically, these areas don’t have a high police presence, somewhat protecting users from persecution, but introducing other risks.
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Obviously this only serves to endanger recreational cannabis users who would otherwise be able to enjoy weed in a safe environment. However, hope is not lost, especially not in Athens. The capital city is home to a yearly cannabis expo dedicated to the medical achievements of cannabis. It was created to educate the public and remove the negative connotations that follow the word weed like a lovesick puppy. Each year the festivities increase and the expo grows larger. Hopefully, introducing legal weed along with a little extra education will do a lot to change public attitudes in Greece.