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Hemp policy in Greece - legality of CBD and THC

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One of Europe’s most popular vacation destinations, Greece, is a country that is becoming more supportive of cannabis after a long hiatus. This does not mean complete legalization – that is certainly still a long way off. Yet the Greek government has seen the potential in the cannabis market and is gradually supporting its development. Read more about how Greek law stands in the context of hemp products with CBD and THC, as well as medical marijuana in the rest of this article.

Hemp sector in Greece

Greece is an example of a country that has decided to use the hemp sector to improve its economy. Until recently, hemp products could not be purchased in the country, and growing the plant was illegal. With the gradual liberalization of regulations in 2018 regarding the cultivation and processing of hemp seed, the Greek CBD market is growing rapidly year after year, bringing in a lot of revenue to the state budget. The biggest hope for the Greek economy is the medical cannabis market (including for export), which is projected to be worth up to €2 billion by 2028.

Is CBD legal in Greece?

Until 1936, it was legal to grow cannabis in Greece. This was followed by a period of prohibition, which also took its toll on fiber hemp cultivation and weakened the hemp industry. In 2018, a new law was introduced allowing the cultivation of hemp for processing purposes, such as food, textiles and paper. Each farmer must first obtain permission to cultivate for a predetermined purpose: for example, to harvest hemp straw or hemp seed. The condition for obtaining permission is that the THC content of the plants is less than 0.2%. Under the new regulations, the production, transportation, storage and processing of raw materials from hemp is legal, but only after obtaining special licenses.

The same applies to cultivation for CBD extraction. Both plant breeding and CBD oil production are legal in Greece under certain conditions. First of all, the extracts obtained must not have more than 0.2% THC in the final product. In Greece, we can legally buy such oils in pharmacies, health food stores or online. Other products containing CBD like e-cigarettes, food or candy have gained considerable popularity in Greek resorts and can be purchased in supermarkets, gas stations or smoking stores.

Legal status of THC in Greece

Consuming cannabis plants that have more than 0.2% THC for recreational purposes is illegal in Greece. Under the first version of the 1987 anti-drug law, it was punishable by imprisonment for its consumption, sale and even possession for personal use. Since then, however, many amendments have been made The 2013 amendment introduced a more lenient stance, although it is still harsh compared to other European countries. If you possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, you can get up to one to five years in prison with probation. However, if the investigating judge recommends that such a person be sent to a special unit, the prison sentence can be suspended. The decision to impose a sentence is therefore made based on the circumstances of the particular trial. In the case of using tetrahydrocannabinol-rich cannabis for medical purposes – Greek law allows for this possibility.

Medical marijuana treatment in Greece

Oils and other cannabis products containing more than 0.2% THC are legally available in Greece only for medical purposes. This means that a chronically ill person must go to a doctor to get a special prescription for a medical cannabis product, which can only be filled at a pharmacy. The 2018 law on liberalizing the cannabis market also addressed the creation of a cannabis production branch in Greece. According to the law, it is possible to establish and operate a processing unit for the production and processing of cannabis medicinal products, either as a pharmaceutical raw material or as a base for medicines available in Greece or for export. It is estimated that the branch could bring Greece an inflow of investment capital of €360 million over the next few years and create up to 2,250 jobs. Entities in Greece can apply for a license to operate within the cultivation, processing and manufacturing of finished cannabis products for medical use. Which means that such a company must acquire as many as 3 licenses in total.

In addition to liberalizing the cannabis production branch, the Greek government is also working on a special cannabis treatment program for patients from other European Union countries. The program envisages the possibility of cannabis treatment within Greece, for example, while on vacation, as part of health insurance purchased in another community country. This program has the potential to become an absolute revolution when it comes to medical services for tourists from Europe who are treated with medical marijuana. Under the program, patients can expect to receive free medical consultations, examinations and prescriptions.

Medical marijuana finally available in Greek pharmacies [Q1 update].

On February 19, 2024, cannabis for medicinal purposes became available in Greek pharmacies for the first time. A medical qualification is required to obtain the drug, which depends on the patient’s condition and the legitimacy of cannabis use. Health problems that qualify include nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, cancer, AIDS/HIV, pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis, persistent pain that does not respond to available medications, or when other treatments have failed. Doctors who are authorized to prescribe medical marijuana in Greece are anesthesiologists, neurologists and pathologists who specialize in treating cancer, infections and rheumatism. Other doctors can also duplicate the prescription for six months, but after that time the treatment must be reconsidered by a specialist. Plans to allow the sale of prescription cannabis in Greek pharmacies were announced as early as 2022, but their final implementation came almost two years later.


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