Macedonia Turns A New Leaf: Medical Marijuana Finally Legalized
Next to Croatia, Macedonia is the second Balkan nation to legalize medical marijuana.
More of Europe is slowly but surely spreading the seeds of love.
On Monday, Macedonia legalized medications derived from marijuana, joining over a dozen European nations who have done the same. Months of debate thankfully did not go up in smoke, but recreational growers as well as sellers can still go to prison for up to 10 years if they are caught.
Macedonia’s rules state that only doctors will be able to prescribe marijuana-based medications to patients diagnosed with specific cancers, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis. Specifically, these medications should only contain less than 2% of THC which is the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana - or the component that is responsible for getting you high.
Prior to the legalization of medical marijuana in Macedonia, cannabis use was already hugely popular especially among the country’s youths. In fact, it is quite common for authorities to just look the other way if they catch people possessing small amounts of pot.
Macedonia is also part of the Balkan drug traffic route, since the pot (as well as other drugs) comes from Albania while headed to Europe. Cannabis strains that are cultivated in Macedonia are popular for being tall sativa varieties, although they are not as strong as the other medical marijuana varieties that have recently been developed.
Europe Gets A New Buzz
In Europe, other countries that have legalized marijuana in some form include the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Britain, and Austria. It won’t be a surprise if Europe soon becomes a top cannabis tourist destination for those with a medical marijuana license.
In January this year, Italy finally joined the ranks of its neighboring countries by relaxing punishment laws for people who violate the rules about growing medical marijuana. The new bill states that violators of the law will need to face a fine instead of going to prison. Italians who grow pot for recreational purposes however, will face the consequences.
Just like the United States, pot remains to be the most widely used banned substance in Europe. A recent report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) stated that an estimated 1% of Europeans use marijuana either daily or almost every day. Over 22.1 million Europeans used pot last year, and around 83 million have used it at some point in their lives.
EMCDDA also takes note of the gender gap: significantly more male Europeans smoke pot than their female counterparts.
The report also included a list of countries with the top highest lifetime use of marijuana which is France, followed by Denmark, Italy, Spain,and the United Kingdom.
There has been a large increase in marijuana production in the region within the last 10 years which may be the reason why the market is shifting. Locally produced pot is becoming a favorite of Europeans over the imported counterparts. However, certain cannaseurs still like imported resin, which still makes its way to the region by way of other countries.