“From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” said Tsipras. Both the Health and Justice ministries signed off on the new legislation.
Using a classification system similar to drug scheduling used in the United States, Greece is recategorizing cannabis. Their “Table A” is reserved for drugs that have no medical benefit, which is how cannabis was classified in Greece. It will now fall under “Table B,” which is reserved for addictive but medically beneficial substances.
While there is no regulatory group in place, the government is reserving the right to create a licensing structure for growers and manufacturers at a later date. In the meantime, Tsipras is allowing medical cannabis products to be imported from other countries. Greece will be joining the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain in legalizing medical cannabis.
Within the European Union, Greece had particularly harsh cannabis laws. It outlawed cannabis in 1890 over the growing concern for the use of hashish. It wasn’t until 2016 that the government began researching the use of cannabis as medicine, and formed a committee to examine the impact of legalized medical cannabis. It was the findings from that committee, made up of medical professionals and legal experts, that led to the announcement last Friday.
Greece has a long history of cannabis use, dating back to the peak of ancient Rome. The climate is ideal for the cultivation of cannabis and hemp, and recreational cannabis use has remained strong, despite the significant legal penalties that are in place. Although there are no plans to create a medical cannabis industry in Greece, the potential for one may be appealing within their current economic climate. As recently as December, Greece was poised to finally recover from the global recession that began in the late 2000’s, but the government was unable to follow through on several bailouts, and creditors are losing confidence in Greek businesses. The global cannabis industry is projected to be worth $50 billion within the next decade, and Greece could become part of that economy as legalization progresses.
Although Tsipras and his left-wing administration has left the door open to a legal cannabis industry, the announcement last Friday did not include any additional details beyond allowing patients access to medical cannabis.