Is Marijuana Legal in Finland?
Marijuana laws in Finland aren’t quite as slack as they are in some other countries like Amsterdam, but the Finnish government has taken steps in recent years to relax some areas of their cannabis policies. As a traveler, it’s important to know the current laws.
Though not completely banned in the country, marijuana is by no means fully legalized in Finland either. In 2008, after years of prohibition, the country made the progressive choice to allow for cannabis to be prescribed medically.
However, unlike the United States, where doctors can prescribe cannabis as a treatment for all kinds of ailments, it is much more difficult to get a prescription for cannabis in a country with such strict drug laws as Finland has. Though there are many high ranking officials who have come out in support of medical marijuana use, its use is still met with contempt by many of the bureaucrats working in health care. Medical marijuana is approved for use only when it has been proven that commonly accepted medications have effectively failed to help the patient.
As a consequence, there are very few people in the country who are legally allowed to possess and use the plant.
Getting caught smoking in public will land the offender a fine. That’s not so bad, but the downside is that it gives police a reason to search the homes of anyone caught smoking or in possession of any plants, growing materials, paraphernalia, or anything else that might give them reasonable suspicion of illegal activities. Those offenses can add up quickly, and, depending on what police find in the home, the small fine for possession can suddenly turn into a large fine, possible jail time, and probation.
Due to the stiffness of international drug laws, it’s not at all advisable to travel into the country with marijuana, even with a medical prescription from home, unless the transport has somehow been officially approved by Finnish authorities beforehand. Just don’t do it.
Marijuana cultivation, regardless of the size and scope of the operation, is automatically categorized as production, which is a very serious offense in Finland. This carries with it much more severe penalties than mere possession.
The distribution of marijuana is still very much a crime, though unlike cultivation, the severity of the punishment varies depending on the amounts involved.
Finnish dealers caught with smaller amounts may get off with a fine as a slap on the wrist, while repeat offenders or those with a larger amount on them may be facing sentences carrying jail time.
Oddly enough, the possession and sale of cannabis seeds are legal in Finland, and there are many head shops that operate freely and legally selling pipes and other paraphernalia. Sales are restricted, however, and they may only be purchased by those over the age of 18. Other hemp products such as soaps, shampoos, and ropes can be bought and sold freely.
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Cannabis laws in Finland aren't quite as slack as they are in some other countries but the government has taken steps in recent years to relax them.
Finnish Cannabis Association Collecting Signatures To Get Referendum On Cannabis Legalization
While cannabis is not really a political issue in Finland, a citizens’ initiative has taken up the subject and proposes to decriminalize cannabis in Finland . The Finnish Cannabis Association has launched an information campaign on the benefits of the plant, as well as a citizen referendum to decriminalize the personal use, possession and small-scale cultivation of cannabis, and to allow Cannabis clubs.
The KK2020 campaign is driven by more than 200 activists in the country and about 20 small businesses support it. In particular, it organized pre-election interviews in the 2019 elections, with candidates in parliament. According to the campaign coordinator, Tapani Karvinen, “the video interviews were a great way to get the candidates to Parliament to think about issues related to cannabis, even though we wanted the traditional media to do it for us. “
The referendum must collect 50,000 signatures for the project to be debated in Parliament, and collected half of it at the time of writing.
Article: Talking Drugs.com – Grass roots: cannabis decriminalization campaign in Finland pushing towards public agenda
Finland, the happiest country in the world, and the new EU president, had national elections. Did cannabis have a place in the political debate?
Medical cannabis has been available in its modern form in Finland since 2006 through a judicial decision made during a patient case which went all the way to the Supreme Administrative Court (Mikkonen 2016). Finland was the first Nordic/Baltic country to legally allow some forms of cannabinoid therapeutics, but instead of seizing the opportunity, the country has fallen short in harvesting the full medicinal potential of the plant.
By way of a bit of a background to this Nordic country and its relation to cannabis, Cannabis indicae herb (Intianhamppu or Indian hemp), was still listed in the Finnish Pharmacopeia in 1937 (Pharmacopoea Fennica 1937: 304-305) but removed from subsequent editions until Sativex® was approved around 2012. Bedrocan® products from the Dutch medical cannabis company are also available but only through a special permit.
The number of prescriptions for medical cannabis products are still low, despite rising from 57 in 2011 to 223 in 2014 (Eklund 2015) and 373 in 2017 (Malin 2019). The prescription rates fell in 2018 to 269 prescriptions, partly due to governmental authorities adopting a strict approach to the regulation of cannabis as medicine.
Cannabis is a difficult fit in the current medical model and the voice of patients is often forgotten in the debate. A recent article by Suomen Kuvalehti revealed that Finnish medical authorities and the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) have pressured doctors to discontinue prescriptions on the grounds that there is not sufficient evidence or clinical guidelines for using cannabis as medicine.
In addition to prescription holders, in 2017 there were an estimated 2000-5000 cannabis users in Finland who used cannabis for medical reasons without a prescription (Hakkarainen & Karjalainen 2017, p. 23). Cannabis also remains the most used “illegal drug”; according to a recent national survey 24 per cent have at least tried cannabis in their lifetime. 42 per cent of Finns think the use of cannabis should not have criminal penalties and 72 per cent think cannabis should be allowed at least for medical use.
The Finnish hemp industry and cultivation has old roots; the hemp variety FINOLA®, developed in Finland by USA researcher Jace Callaway was one of the first registered varieties in the EU and Canada. Other Finnish hemp companies have since sprouted (e.g. Hamppumaa, HamppuFarmi, HempRefine, HamppuSampo) and the first Finnish hemp expo was held in 2017 (Helsinki Hemp & Herb). Finnish hemp technology research is also under way; there are at least two research projects in Finland that have explored the industrial use of hemp.
In a joint project between the University of Eastern Finland and the City of Juankoski, hemp fiber is being developed in textiles, composites and filters. In addition, Turku University of Applied Sciences has a project that introduces technologies around hemp construction. Hemp companies, however, still suffer from stigma around the plant; for instance Facebook banned advertising by HempRefine, resulting in a 90 per cent decrease in sales.
One would think that in the era of entrepreneurship and ‘activation’, the development and support of new domestic industries would be in the forefront of the minds of politicians. But the results of the 2019 parliamentary elections in April showed that talking about cannabis and/or hemp did not bring votes to politicians.
The Finnish Pirate Party was the only political party calling for legal regulation of cannabis, with the Green Party and the Left Alliance mainly backing decriminalisation of personal use. The Green Party and Left Alliance managed to increase their numbers in the Finnish Parliament, while the Finnish Pirates did not get any candidates in. The winner of the elections for the first time in 20 years was the Social Democratic Party, although the right-wing Finns party was a close second.
As Finland is the EU president country for the latter half of the 2019, the Finnish election results do have European wide consequences as there are several informal meetings planned to take place in Helsinki, the country´s capital, including a EU Drug Coordinators meeting. Dealing with Brexit fallout and a recent call by European Parliament members to take medical cannabis seriously could potentially be major topics in those high-level meetings, even though most major parties in Finland have not shown willingness for cannabis policy reform.
Drug policy activism from the bottom up
While cannabis, or drug policy in general, did not become a hot topic in the 2019 elections, there is an on-going cannabis decriminalisation campaign taking place in Finland which includes an information campaign on the benefits of the plant, as well as a citizens’ initiative to decriminalise personal use, possession and small scale cultivation of cannabis.
The campaign is implemented by the Finnish Cannabis Association, and it has so far recruited over 200 activists around the country as well as about 20 small businesses supporting it. The campaign included pre-election interviews with parliament candidates, and according to the campaign coordinator Tapani Karvinen,“the video interviews were a great way to make parliament candidates think about cannabis related issues, although we wished mainstream media would have done it for us.”
The KK2020 campaign is driven by more than 200 activists in the country and about 20 small businesses support it. In particular, it organized pre-election interviews in the 2019 elections, with candidates in parliament.