LE CHEF | Slovenia is one of smallest European countries with only 2 million citizens and one of highest rate of weed smokers in this part of Europe. Reasons for that are most likely to be found in “reasonable” prices, good offer and a fact that Slovenia is a transit country and big crossroad between south of Europe and its northern parts, where most of smuggled weed is being sold due to higher standard and better economics that allows better (higher) prices for those who sell. But of course a lot of weed stays in Slovenia, allowing acceptable prices for its buyers. Well, that was the case some 10, 15 years ago. Slovenia nowadays grows over 80-90% of weed it consumes. Days of importing kilos and kilos of weed from Holland, Bosnia and Albania are pretty much over. One could say that Slovenian marihuana market is self sufficient and since there is a law from 2008 that downgraded smoking a joint (or possession of small amount for personal use) from criminal act to smaller offense (like jay-walking) one might think the weed situation in Slovenia is great… but Slovenia is far from that, as the development of past year reveals.
Organization SKSK (Slovenski konopljin socialni club / Cannabis social club Slovenija) started a campaign in September 2013, gathering far over 2000 needed signatures that would get a new bill proposition into parliament agenda. Since Rick Simpson Oil was introduced to Slovenian public some years ago, calls for weed legalization or at least medicinal use got louder, clearer and more demanding. And in fall 2013 every single media was part of this successful campaign, helping to gather needed signatures and there were daily reports, interviews, users experiences, pros & cons debates … At first one might think this is great, but the more I was following those debates more confused I got. Seemed like nobody knew what they were talking about. Reputable reporters were saying you can treat cancer with hemp oil made of cannabis seeds. And that hemp provides strong and illegal cancer treatment. I will leave official Health Committee comments aside – but allow me to just mention they were calling all frequent weed smokers to join one of their programs for addicted people, since regular weed smokers are supposed to be addicted like every other illegal drug (ab)user. No matter, RSO (hash oil) treated so many Slovenian people and made cannabis much more acceptable, so the “government campaign” didn’t gain much sympathies.
Population started to realize they were being lied to! And SKSK gathered over 22.000 signatures (out of 2.000 needed) and on Christmas eve 2013 new bill was sent to Slovenian parliament.
In February 2014 the parliamentary Health Committee expectedly rejected two bills that would have legalized marijuana sale, but statements from officials indicated the grassroots proponents of the laws have at least managed to convince the government to consider approving marijuana for medicinal use. In the meantime local police started to raid more exposed grow shops, people exposing themselves during the campaign and weed growers, since they realized that whole marijuana climate got more and more in favour of “freeing” it.
At this very moment there are few people sitting in jail or being trailed for possession of “hash oil” and/or growing few (few meaning 3 or 4) plants of weed in their patios. Those few individuals are heavy patients either themselves or one (or more) or their family members. And how the system works? Well a guy admitted he has been cooking oil for his wife and son (6 years old). He was taken to custody and given offer of taking 6 months “parole” punishment for period of 2 years. Meaning: if in next 2 years he gets caught with weed, oil, spliff or anything similar, there is 6 months of prison time automatically, no trial. But he would have to admit to court he was planting illegal substance and regret it. He doesn’t regret anything and he won’t admit any wrong-doing as he was simply trying to help two people he loves the most. Well, judge demands now a 1 year imprisonment!
And so last week we got headlines all over major Slovenian media, deceiving people as it they were 10-year olds! “Slovenia legalized marijuana for medical purposes”, “Slovenia said YES to cannabis” … There was only 1 right headline in first few days: Government allows use of medication made of isolated TCH. And sub-titled: New bill is a fraud and harmful for people, since only pharmaceutical companies can sell THC pills. Yes, until last week there was impossible to get prescription pills like Marinol or Sativex in our country, but luckily Slovenian outgoing government has allowed the use of cannabis for medicinal use.
At least so they say! But cannabis remains in the 1st group of drugs (among heroin, cocaine …) while morphine, metamphetamines, opium etc are in the second group with THC now. So THC alone was regrouped, while nothing changed regarding natural medicine a simple plant can provide. In fewer words; Slovenian outgoing government did exactly what pharma-industry would want them to do. Coincidence? And lucky Slovenian people… we will now be able to spend a lot of money on synthetical THC pills instead of treating ourselves with natural and very non-expensive plant!
Some say this was only first battle in a long war and I can relate to that. What worries me is a fact that there will be elections in Slovenia in 3 weeks and out of 15 parties trying to enter the parliament there is only 1 (one!) very marginal political party (Zdruzena Levica) that openly says YES to decriminalization of marijuana. Not the best prediction if I might ad.
And let me close this article with yet another “only in Slovenia” paradox. I mentioned upcoming elections. Last week former right wing PM started to serve his 2 year imprisonment due to corruption conviction. And he is leading in the election race at the moment. Again, right wing prime minister that was in position twice, both times releasing new bills that made life for ganja smokers so much easier (downgrading personal possessions from criminal act to smaller offense, passing abolition in 2009 – erasing all awaiting trials on court for smaller amounts of weed possession …) If you look from another perspective – in Slovenia the left wing is the one holding decriminalization back and has never thought of abolition or freeing the cannabis. So one can say in Slovenia the right political wing is more advanced. Paradox, isn’t it?