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Slovenia to hold referendum on cannabis laws

Next month, Slovenian citizens will vote on two referendum measures aimed at changing national cannabis policies.



Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash.

Next month, Slovenian citizens will vote on two referendum measures aimed at changing national cannabis policies.

The referendum questions, approved by the Slovenian National Assembly in April, represent potential steps towards comprehensive cannabis reform. 

Although neither measure is legally binding, their approval could significantly influence future legislative actions and strengthen the growing momentum for cannabis reform in Slovenia.

The proposed measures

The first measure of the consultative referendum concerns the modernisation of Slovenia’s medical cannabis policies. 

While Slovenia currently allows limited trade and use of medical cannabis, domestic production remains prohibited. 

Patient advocates argue that expanding the national medical cannabis programme is essential to ensure safe access, increase product variety, improve research policies and expand the list of eligible conditions. 

This reform could position Slovenia more favourably in the context of global advances in medical cannabis providing patients with more comprehensive care options and supporting cannabis research in the country.

The second referendum measure concerns the cultivation and possession of cannabis for limited personal use by adults. 

This proposal draws on precedents set by Malta, Luxembourg and Germany, where personal cultivation, possession and use by adults are already legal.

Political implications and public sentiment

It is important to note that the referendum questions are not legally binding. Even if successful, there is no guarantee that the Slovenian government coalition will adopt the proposed measures. 

However, significant support for these measures, particularly if the votes are overwhelmingly positive, could put substantial political pressure on lawmakers to align with the will of the public.

Cannabis opponents have stepped up efforts to spread incomplete or misleading information ahead of the vote on 9 June.

The National Institute of Public Health of Slovenia recently published an article opposing cannabis use and reform without directly addressing the upcoming referendums. 

This position, rooted in outdated perspectives, ignores the successful implementation of cannabis policies in other European countries, which have often had positive social and economic effects.

Current Cannabis Laws in Slovenia

Currently, recreational cannabis use remains prohibited in Slovenia, and medical cannabis is only permitted under limited conditions, in pharmaceutical forms such as Sativex and Marinol 

Those caught possessing personal quantities of cannabis are subject to fines, although leniency is available for those who agree to undergo behavioural rehabilitation programmes.

People accused of producing or distributing cannabis face lengthy prison sentences.

Hemp production is permitted in Slovenia, as in other European Union member countries.

Hemp-derived products, including CBD products, are popular despite being part of a somewhat contradictory public policy framework straddling insufficient and ambiguous regulations, a challenge faced by many states members of the EU.

According to a study conducted by Marihuana Marš and Študentska Organizacija Univerze v Ljubljani , Slovenia has more than 200,000 cannabis users out of a total population of around 2.2 million. 

The study also highlights that around 2,000 cannabis-related criminal offences are committed every year in Slovenia.

Potential outcomes and future directions

If Slovenian voters approve one or both referendum measures, the country could see a significant change in its cannabis policies. 

Approval would likely lead to increased domestic production of medical cannabis, greater patient access to a wider variety of products and better research opportunities.

Additionally, allowing personal cultivation and possession could bring Slovenia in line with European nations that have already taken the plunge, partially reducing the stigma and legal repercussions associated with cannabis use.

This article was originally published by Newsweed and is reprinted here with permission. 

Aurélien created Newsweed, the French leading cannabis media, in 2015. Particularly interested in international regulations and the different cannabis markets, he also has an extensive knowledge of the plant and its uses.


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