While in the Americas in the last few years we have seen several waves of liberal reforms in countries like the USA, Canada, Chile, and Uruguay, we rarely hear similar news concerning European countries. But cannabis legalization is also winning support slowly in European countries other than the Netherlands Spain and Portugal.
In the UK last month, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb raised a bill for decriminalization of cannabis - a second hearing will take place on May.
A big discussion began some months ago when people started a petition to collect 220,000 signatures for cannabis legalization. The petition was asking for a legal reform towards a more flexible legal status. While British politicians are still in discussions on the matter, they have started to realize the economic dimension of their strict policies. A leaked Treasury report recently revealed that legalization of the demonized cannabis plant could bring millions of pounds from paid taxes, indicating that they seem to be taking the possible revenue more seriously.
Last October In Croatia, medical cannabis became legally available for medical purposes. From now on, patients suffering from chronic health problems like cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and AIDS will be able to get their cannabis medicine with a prescription. The law changed after a lot of buzz around a case in which a patient suffering from multiple sclerosis was jailed for growing his own medicine. Patients in Croatia are allowed 7.5 grams of cannabis per month with a prescription.
For many years in Italy, anyone who was working in a cannabis research lab was risking their freedom due to an old fashioned law. While the use of cannabis for medical purposes in Italy is legal, and it can be obtained from a pharmacy with a doctor's prescription, the law wasn't clear in distinguishing researchers from criminals. So recently Italian lawmakers decided to decriminalize some minor legal offences like growing medical marijuana for therapeutic reasons, and medical research. Although this new regulation does not affect recreational use in any way, it is considered a positive first step towards better days to come.
In the meantime, the Czech Republic continues to be an example to follow in terms of liberal cannabis policies. After having liberated cannabis cultivation for personal use some years ago, they recently announced the so called “International Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute” — one of their biggest investments in medicine ever. The Institute, funded by American companies, has the mission of studying the medical properties of cannabis.
In an effort to fight the black market, Switzerland's government announced the proposal of a new pilot program of a regulated cannabis distribution to users with drug related problems. The government plans to open four Cannabis Clubs, in Geneva, Zurich, Bern and Basel. The opening of these clubs is still pending as the local cantonal governments have to agree with it first.
Germany: On April 6th the German Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) ruled that patients have the right to ensure their medical care through self-cultivation. This means that they can grow their own medical cannabis from seed. According to the website of Hanfverband “The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte - BfArM) will now be forced to give out the first license for home growing of cannabis in Germany, although they can still apply some additional rules for safety.”
Germany big plans to set up an agency to regulate the drug's cultivation and distribution in treating seriously-ill patients, according to a draft bill. According to the proposal the seriously ill patients would be given access to the drug on a doctor’s prescription and the expenses would be paid by their health insurance. So far all these people would only be allowed to get a license that permits them to import their medicine from the Netherlands while covering the expenses on their own.
Featured image via Spiegel