Croatia Becomes First Balkan Country to Legalize Medical Cannabis

The first-ever legal shipment of cannabis was imported to Croatia last month after the country passed legislation to allow cannabinoid therapy in October.

Croatia is the first Balkan country to legalize medical marijuana, after a team of doctors and medical professionals examined the research on cannabis’s therapeutic effects and recommended legislation to government policymakers.

Back in December 2014, the country launched a project referred to as “The Commission.” It involved the creation of a committee of medical experts, tasked with examining cannabis laws in other countries and studying medical cannabis to determine whether marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes.

Cannabis’s therapeutic effects have been scientifically explored since the mid 1800s, but scientists have made groundbreaking discoveries over the past decade. Studies have shown that medical marijuana can limit the growth of or kill cancer cells, slows the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduces seizures caused by epilepsy and other disorders, manages spasms caused by conditions like multiple sclerosis, curtails pain and nausea, and minimizes neurological damage following spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries.

Headed by chairman Professor Ognjen Brborović, The Commission traveled throughout Europe to thoroughly research the therapeutic, social, and legal effects of established medical cannabis programs elsewhere. The medical panel presented their conclusion about a month following their formation.

“The Commission, taking into account the latest scientific and medical knowledge, and the fact that patients in Croatia buy cannabis on the black market, has concluded that it is necessary to regulate the cultivation, processing, transport and regulation of cannabis for medical purposes,” the report from The Commission read. “The existing legislation should be altered and effective control mechanisms undertaken that allow for the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and prevent misuse.”

Following The Commission’s recommendation, Croatia passed a set of laws legalizing cannabis for medical uses in October 2015, less than a year after the project’s launch. Prior to the change, the use of cannabis for any purpose in Croatia was forbidden.

Under the new laws, patients with a doctor’s prescription can get legal access to marijuana teas, ointments, and other cannabis extracts. As recommended by the medical committee, Croatia approved cannabis for treating tumors, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and child epilepsy. Patients can receive up to 0.75 grams of THC per month. Smoking or vaporizing cannabis is not allowed under the law.

Because there are no cannabis producers in Croatia, patients in the country had to look elsewhere for their cannabis supply. Medical cannabis products have to be imported, and the country received its first shipment this past June.

Croatia’s historic new cannabis laws, passed through the cooperation of government policymakers and the medical field, could potentially legitimize cannabis as a viable medicine throughout the rest of Eastern Europe.

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