By Marguerite Arnold
On Oct. 15, 2015, medical marijuana became legal in Croatia. As such, it becomes the first Balkan country and the first in continental Europe to fully legalize medical use. The country’s Minister of Health, Sinisa Varga, announced on Oct. 15 that medical marijuana would become available in national pharmacies as soon as the beginning of November of this year.
“According to information that we have from wholesale drugstores, quite a lot of them are interested in importing [cannabis-derived products] to Croatia,” Varga told Yahoo News.
A medical committee organized by the government began examining legalization for medical purposes this past January.
Patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and AIDS can legally obtain up to 7.5 grams a month of oils, teas and ointments.
“Croatia legalizing medical marijuana is a clear symbol of both the global downfall of cannabis prohibition, and the undeniable validity of the effectiveness of medical cannabis,” said Evan Nison, a member of the national board of NORML.
The government’s assessment of marijuana’s medicinal properties and the decision to legalize medical marijuana follow the high profile trial of a 37-year old multiple sclerosis patient who was growing plants in his garden in a village near Rijeka. Police also seized 44 pounds of marijuana from Huanito Luksetic who used the plants to make cannabis oil.
Doctors and other patients across the country spoke out in favor of legalization.
Nevertheless, marijuana and cannabis oil will remain expensive. Until now, cannabis oil has been available via the black market for between 300 and 600 euros per 10 grams, or approximately between $310 and $660. That is, by far, one of the most expensive markets in the legalizing world. Part of that is caused by the still very restrictive regulations. Home growing will still be illegal. The medical stock here will currently be imported from abroad.
Support for medical legalization, at least, is high across Europe. Italy, Spain, Germany and increasingly the UK are eyeing the prospect, with others closer than others. Italy is on the verge of wider legalization. Spain’s market is largely unregulated but viable. The Netherlands continues with its strange version of semi-legal status intact for now.
Advocates both in the United States and globally also believe that movements in the U.S., particularly next year, will continue to drive legalization in other places, including Europe. The Australian government also just began growing medical crops.
“The U.S. government has been perpetuating cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs globally, while the U.S. population has been leading the charge in advocating for the repeal of these draconian and ineffective laws,” Nison said. “It’s been public votes via ballot initiatives throughout the U.S. that have cleared the way for other countries around the globe to implement policies they view as most effective, rather than appeasing the U.S. government, who can no longer demand other countries continue prohibition.”