European media brought us news about “great progress in terms of medical cannabis legalization in Slovenia” a couple of months ago. But what is the reality? Is this tiny country full of cannabis users going to create a functional system providing people in need with this invaluable herbal medicine, or are the politicians and authorities going to screw it up as in other European countries?
Current cannabis laws in Slovenia are very similar to the most of EU countries: People who produce and use cannabis and products made from it in order to improve their health or simply to enjoy themselves are facing various levels of prosecution, future without job, or ruined families due to social consequences of using this “horrendous” plant.
Fifteen percent users
Cannabis is regularly or occasionally used at least by 15 percent of Slovenian population. It is also estimated that that more than 30,000 patients and those in remission use the cannabis extracts made from plant’s resin for medical issues.
In 2017 March, the Slovenian Ministry of Health proposed new regulations on prohibited substances, which was then approved by the Government. First, it looked liked medical use of cannabis will become widely available and accessible, but it is actually even more restricted now to all who wish to cultivate the plant for their own needs – be it medical or recreational. As Dean Herenda, one of the most prominent advocates of cannabis legalization in Slovenia, explains: “In agriculture, the growth of hemp and its products (high CBD extracts, seeds, hemp oil, teas) are de facto prohibited, because the plant (no matter the amount of THC is) is fully transferred to the second category of substances, which is overseen by the Ministry of Health. We believe that the impact of this regulation represent a serious blow to agriculture and the economy.”
The Association of NGO’s for Drugs and Drug Use, of which Herenda is president warned already in March that more restriction on production of cannabis and even hemp will follow – and soon this happened: Since April 2017, when the inspectors first announced inspections, investigations in stores and among manufacturers of CBD tinctures and resins began, with authorities looking for products that have been so far legally available in any food shop.
Herenda explains: “As you know, CBD is not psychoactive cannabinoids and is naturally present in the products of so-called ‘industrial hemp’ with a low content of THC (<0.2%). Following the new Slovenian regulation from March 2017, the private growing is banned and CBD is available only as a medicine – this means mainly of synthetic origin.” This all happens despite the fact that CBD products could be purchased in food shops in other EU states – even direct Slovenian neighbors. The prohibition of CBD is therefore a first dramatic contradiction of a declared ‘more liberal’ approach towards cannabis in Slovenia.”
All in all, this new regulation is yet another proof that those who are supposed to be competent do not know how to actually ease the restrictions surrounding cannabis in order to help sick people. It also further complicates the lives the police and the prosecutors who currently are in the state of complete confusion.