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Is weed legal in Greece?

Is weed legal in Greece?

Table of contents

  • Medical: legal
  • Recreational: illegal

In July, 2017, a joint ministerial decision between the Ministers of Health and Justice legalized medical marijuana in Greece, and changed the classification of cannabis from a Table A drug to a Table B drug. 

The following year, Greek lawmakers approved a law to allow the cultivation and processing of medical cannabis with up to 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which was followed in 2021 by the approval of a bill to legalize the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana with more than 0.2% THC. 

Back in 2019 the country had its first CBD vending machine and had approved more than two dozen licenses for cannabis cultivation and processing. 

Greek drug laws have gone through a series of amendments since the passing of law nº 1729/87 in 1987, which had at its core a view of drug addicts as patients as opposed to criminals. This stipulation can in some cases lead to more severe penalties for cannabis possession as opposed to heroin, because the offender is less likely to be viewed as an addict. 

Under Greek law, anyone arrested for possession of cannabis for personal use can be punished with imprisonment of up to 5 months between 10 days to 5 years and/or a fine. For a first offense, a counseling program can be a substitute for incarceration. 

How do Greeks generally view marijuana?

The history of cannabis in Greece can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used hemp fiber for boat sails, ropes, clothes, and much more. There is also a growing body of evidence that they used it for its psychotropic properties as well. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Greece was a center of hashish production and a transit point for its trafficking.

A demonstration in central Athens during the Global Marijuana march, an annual rally demanding the legalization of marijuana and changes in drug policies
A demonstration in central Athens during the Global Marijuana march, an annual rally demanding the legalization of marijuana and changes in drug policies (Shutterstock)

A survey carried out in 2004 found that 8.6% of Greeks aged 12-64 reported having used illegal drugs, mainly cannabis. A more recent survey carried out in 2011 found that one in every 10 students aged 15-19 had used cannabis recently, and that 13.4% overall had used cannabis. The rates were highest in the major urban centers of Athens and Thessaloniki.  

In 2017, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Yiannis Tsironis called for the legalization of cannabis cultivation for personal use. The following year, Tsiornis and Economy and Development Secretary-General Efstratios Zafiris attended and spoke at the first-ever cannabis expo held in Greece. 

And while medical cannabis was legalized in 2017, a 2021 study surveyed Greek nursing students and found that 85% of fourth-year students said they would recommend medical cannabis for patient use (as opposed to 70.8% of first-year students) and that the vast majority believe that there are “significant physical health benefits of using medical cannabis.”

Less than a quarter of all students at all levels of their nursing studies stated that they support the legalization of recreational cannabis. 

The annual cannabis usage rate in Greece has been assessed at 3.4%, and the country has seen an overall process of liberalization regarding cannabis over the past several years.

What Greek law permits for medical patients?

Would-be medical cannabis patients can gain access if they receive a prescription from a presiding physician. 

In a statement after the passing of Greece’s medical marijuana law, the Health Ministry stated that cannabis medicines are useful for cases in which there are proven clinical benefits, such as chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nausea, and vomiting due to chemotherapy or cachexia.

Despite being legalized for medical use, patients are unable to access their medicine due to bureaucratic hurdles and lack of a transparent access (Shutterstock)

Other conditions in which Greek patients can seek approval for medical cannabis include HIV/AIDS and epilepsy.

But the program has been held up due to bureaucratic gridlock and patients are still unable to access cannabis through a centralized distribution system in the country.  

According to a June, 2021 report, medical cannabis made by Panaxia Labs Israel will be marketed and distributed in Greece to treat a variety of health problems, including neuropathic pain and spasticity, a condition caused by Multiple Sclerosis. 

Health Minister Andreas Xanthos said in 2018 that medical cannabis will not be subsidized through state health insurance schemes. 

Despite the passing of the medical cannabis law, Greek patients and advocates have been highly critical of the Greek government and the access problems that are rife within the medical cannabis program. 

Is CBD legal in Greece? 

Cannabidiol is legal in Greece as long as it has less than 0.2% THC, and stores selling CBD products have become very common in the country.  

Can you grow your own weed in Greece?

The 2021 law that approved the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes in Greece only allows cultivation for people who have obtained an installation permit and an operating permit. Beyond those approved to grow cannabis on an industrial level, the cultivation of cannabis for personal use is illegal. 

A number of online seed banks do state that Greek law does not ban the purchase or sale of cannabis seeds though.  

Visiting Greece- can you buy or bring marijuana products?

Greece does not allow tourists to bring marijuana products into the country even if they have a medical prescription from a foreign country. Sale of medical cannabis is yet to be implemented despite being legal.

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