Your latest cannabis business info from Europe

Your latest cannabis business info from Europe

2023-06-06

Do’s and don’ts in cannabis legislation in EU – understanding the framework

eu cannabis legislation legislations law laws europe

On 5 June, EMCDDA released a publication about cannabis legislation, approaches and recent changes in the European Union (EU). The question of how and why EU nations have to comply with EMCDDA cannabis regulations was one of the subjects. Thus, it is essential to look at the EU and international obligations put on countries. 

Why must EU countries control cannabis?

To fully understand the significance of cannabis regulation, we have to review the development of international drug law. Cannabis initially came under international control through the Second Opium Convention in 1925. This legislation implemented restrictions on cannabis export and required penalties for unauthorised possession. Three UN conventions currently serve as the framework for policing psychotropic substances. All EU Member States have signed these legislations for drugs, including cannabis. They aim to control the manufacture, distribution, and possession of drugs. Countries have to base on their alleged health concerns, potential for abuse, and potential therapeutic benefits.

The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence, however, reviewed cannabis and related compounds critically in 2018. The committee suggested rescheduling cannabis and cannabis resin among other modifications to the global drug control system. They specifically recommended that cannabis be acknowledged for its therapeutic benefits and removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Convention. But not all recommendations were followed, allowing flexibility for various interpretations in regards to the regulation of cannabis tinctures and extracts. Thanks to this, we can now see different approaches in Europe, in countries such as Malta, Germany and Czech Republic.

Are all types of cannabis controlled in EU countries?

Since 1961, cannabis has been a part of the UN drug control conventions’ definition of “any plant of the genus Cannabis,” which includes both Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa species. In accordance with the standards, “controlled cannabis” is defined as the plant’s flowering or fruiting tops, omitting seeds and leaves without the tops. Although the conventions call for control of the entire plant, they do not permit its cultivation just for industrial uses. While some EU nations include cannabis seeds in their national drug control legislation, other countries allow the growing of cannabis with maximum THC content limits for industrial usage.

Penalties in EU for cannabis from UN

The UN conventions require signatory countries to outlaw illegal acts such as possession, acquisition, distribution, or offering for sale. They do not, however, specifically advocate for the punishment of drug usage. Countries in EU can interpret agreements how they see suitable, and several have stopped penalising cannabis users. The decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use is one of the alternatives to conviction and punishment that the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination has supported. 

Countries in Europe have considerable latitude in implementing the UN drug conventions, including cannabis legislation. This leads to an array of responses. This flexibility is possible thanks to a number of variables. This can be taking into account basic constitutional values, interpretations of the acts, and the potential for alternatives to conviction or punishment. Recent legal interpretations have also questioned the penalisation of cannabis use based on constitutional standards.

Changes in cannabis legislations

Because countries in Europe overcome the complexities of cannabis legislation, it is important to understand their international obligations. Countries in EU are required by UN drug control treaties to regulate cannabis, and the WHO’s recent negative analysis caused discussions about rescheduling and regulatory adjustments. Although agreements offer a structure, governments can interpret and apply them how they see appropriate. This adaptability has led to a variety of cannabis control strategies used globally. In light of scientific data, public health issues, and respect for human rights, it is critical for nations to strike a balance between their international duties and the changing views on cannabis use.

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