The Greek drug law of 2013 distinguishes between drug possession/acquisition for personal use and for commercial use, and the punishment varies accordingly. Law No 4139/2013, introduced in 2013, stipulates that individuals using drugs or obtaining or otherwise processing drugs for personal use only, in quantities to satisfy their own needs, or cultivating cannabis plants in numbers and areas justified for personal use only, can be sentenced to no more than 5 months in prison. The offence is not recorded on the offender’s criminal record on the condition that he or she does not commit another relevant offence within a 5-year period. Upon the order of the investigating judge, offenders may be admitted to a special treatment unit operating in a prison setting or a community drug treatment programme operated by a lawfully recognised agency (the law specifies the recognised drug agencies). Penalties can be suspended in the case of offenders who are undergoing treatment. The 2013 amendment removed the definitions of all quantities of substances for personal use from the previous law; this decision is now left to judges, based on the substance, its quantity and purity, and the needs of the offender.
Key drug statistics for Greece
How many drug-related medical emergencies occurred in Greece in the last year?
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Those convicted of drug supply may be sentenced to up to 3 years’ imprisonment if addicted or sharing in a group, or at least 8 years’ imprisonment if not. A life sentence is possible in very special cases, such as trafficking by medical professionals, teachers, drug therapists, etc. There is also provision for a fine of EUR 50 000 to EUR 500 000, reaching EUR 1 million in special cases. The Greek drug law also states that a drug-dependent offender charged with drug dealing can be considered for conditional release, provided that he or she (i) has served a minimum of one fifth of the sentence and (ii) has successfully and certifiably completed drug treatment. He or she is then referred to reintegration structures outside prison.
What is done in Greece to ensure that the prevention and treatment interventions used are effective and provide a good return on public expenditure?
In which areas of study is drug-related research carried out in Greece? How is this research funded? Are any types of research emphasised in the national drug strategy?
How many people died of drug overdoses or poisonings in Greece in the last year?
What is known about drug supply and trafficking in Greece? How pure or strong are the drugs available? What do they cost? What are the main aims of supply reduction efforts?
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- Herbal cannabis is the most seized drug by the police, in terms of kilogram weight. It is followed by heroin and cocaine. Hash is the fourth most commonly seized.
- 4.5% of ‘young adults’ in Greece use cannabis. (‘Young adult’ is defined as between 15 and 34 years old)”
- Of all people seeking help for drug addiction, 23% of those are receiving treatment for cannabis use. Heroin addiction is the most treated – accounting for 61% of cases.
Greek attitudes to cannabis have shifted noticeably in recent years. Once regarded as a dangerous, Class A drug, its recent downgrading to Class B marks a growing change in public perception. It is still a criminal offence to use, possess or supply cannabis. But the decision to give judges the right to make the final decision on sentencing indicates that the law is becoming more flexible on the matter.
It was challenged by New Democracy, Golden Dawn, the Communist Party and the Centrist’s Union. New Democracy emphasised that they saw the value of medical cannabis but were against the government’s approach. They felt the new laws did not safeguard against uncontrolled production and distribution.
If the investigating judge recommends you to a special treatment unit, the prison sentence may be suspended. The judge decides on the severity of the sentence based on the quantity of cannabis seized, and the offender’s unique circumstances.
It is illegal to sell or supply cannabis in Greece. If you are found guilty of supplying it, you could be sentenced to as much as eight years’ imprisonment. This is reduced to three years if you are an addict yourself or part of a supply group. A life sentence may be given if the supply is carried out by individuals in a position of public responsibility; for example, a teacher or doctor. If the supplier is drug-dependent, they may be considered for conditional release once they have completed the recommended treatment for drug addiction.
It is illegal to use or supply cannabis in Greece, though the law is less strict on limited personal use. In 2017, the Greek government legalised the use of cannabis for medical purposes, and a year later, they lifted the ban on growing or producing it. This enables pharmaceutical companies to grow cannabis legally, and industrial hemp suppliers too.
Cannabis has a long, illustrious history in Greece. In ancient times, it was prized for its medicinal benefits, such as reducing “inflammation, earache and edema” (Lahanas, Examples of Ancient Greek Medical Knowledge, 2006). The historian Herodotus also noted that the Scythian tribes inhaled its smoke.
While CBD is not widely used in Greece, it is starting to become more popular. This is largely due to the change in law regarding medicinal use. If the CBD oil is harvested from EU-certified plants, then it is legally acceptable to purchase or sell it.
Additionally, the plant was downgraded from a Class A to a Class B drug. This highlighted the Greek government’s softening attitude to cannabis.
It is illegal to use, possess or sell cannabis in Greece. But, due to recent changes cannabis use for medical purposes is permitted. Learn all about the latest laws.