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CBD and THC in Cyprus

THC and CBD in Cyprus

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The warm climate and plenty of sunshine are assets that the Cypriot government has decided to use for more than just the tourism industry. It is one of the few European countries that has already legalized the possibility of growing medical marijuana on its soil. This doesn’t quite go hand in hand with the approach to recreational use, so cannabis tourists have to adapt to fairly strict regulations. What does the THC and CBD market look like in Cyprus? What are the risks for a person carrying marijuana there? See the rest of the article for more information.

The hemp market in Cyprus – the status of CBD and THC

Citizens of this charming island are well acquainted with cannabis; less familiar to them is seed hemp, although it can now be legally grown there. There is plenty of archaeological evidence that the island was an important center for cannabis and opium production in ancient times. The drugs were transported to Egypt, Turkey or Syria. After a period of prohibition, with cannabis returning to favor, many citizens admit to consuming marijuana. A survey conducted by the Cyprus National Addictions Authority (NAAC) found that during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many as 97% of participants admitted that they had consumed cannabis in the past 12 months.

The authorities’ approach to cannabis is not liberal enough for decriminalization, although citizens have free access to cannabis products. The cultivation of fiber hemp is permitted in Cyprus – national regulations define a procedure for farmers who meet certain requirements to obtain a license. One condition is the selection of a variety from a list of certified seeds authorized for cultivation in the European Union. Another condition is that the level of THC in the final plant product does not exceed 0.2%. Cyprus allows the production, processing and marketing of products containing CBD. Cannabidiol legally produced in another member state can also be marketed. In addition, the authorities plan to develop medical marijuana production on the island. Cyprus has quite a climatic advantage over other community countries due to its geographical location. Excellent temperatures and long periods of sunshine favor cannabis cultivation. Additionally, as a member of the EU’s single market, it can offer the raw medical material to other community countries under a simplified licensing and trade procedure. Cyprus is projected to be able to produce about €236 million worth of medical marijuana annually.

Is CBD legal in Cyprus?

Due to high public approval, cannabis is in high demand in Cyprus. Authorities have brought the country’s laws in line with a 2020 EU Court ruling that CBD is not a drug. However, the possibility of legally marketing CBD came quite late compared to other European countries, only in 2019. The country’s regulations allow the processing of raw hemp material from the country or another EU member state, for the Cypriot market. It is free to market CBD extracts, as well as food, beverages, cosmetics, medicines with cannabidiol. Current legislation recognizes CBD as a dietary supplement, which can be legally sold in markets, pharmacies and even gas stations. The condition is that the products are not advertised as medical devices that have any medicinal properties. Broad spectrum, or THC-free, oils are very popular there, despite the fact that a trace amount of this ingredient, up to 0.2%, is allowed in the products. The reason may be the frequent exceedances of the illegal substance, which is still tetrahydrocannabinol, in the hemp raw material and the final product. This is likely due to the sunshine and climate that favor the production of large amounts of cannabinoids in the plant.

Is THC legal in Cyprus?

Despite the high consumption of the substance by Cypriot citizens, THC is still an illegal substance. All other cannabis-related activities are also illegal, such as selling, possessing, growing or buying. European cannabis associations report that police on the island are highly intolerant of cannabis and give no privileges to civilians or tourists. Some reports even state that police forces in tourist areas are even bent on finding suspicious people who may be in possession of cannabis, initiating searches of them. When planning a trip to Cyprus, keep in mind that cannabis-possessing tourists are not treated with any kind of concessionary fare by local police.
Since 1977, cannabis has been classified as a Class B drug under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Penalties for possession and trafficking are very harsh, including life imprisonment, although this was relaxed somewhat after 2003. Thresholds for personal drug use were then introduced. Those in possession of smaller quantities of drugs than 30 grams of cannabis, or 3 plants, no longer commit a crime. This is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine. In the case of possession of larger amounts, a person is subject to imprisonment for up to 8 years. If they are young people who have not committed any crime before, the sentence is usually lighter, usually up to 1 year. A juvenile first offender, on the other hand, may receive a mere warning. You can even get life imprisonment for trafficking, distributing and selling a drug, although the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction reported that this has not yet happened.

Medical marijuana treatment in Cyprus

Citizens can legally treat themselves with medical marijuana, which has been legalized since 2019. The law allows not only the sale, but also the cultivation, import, export and processing in Cyprus. Back in 2017, Cyprus approved the possibility of using cannabis oil as an anesthetic for patients in advanced stages of cancer. Then it became one of the few European countries to allow domestic players to cultivate cannabis for the medical market.
Currently, patients are treated under the guidance of specialists. The medical marijuana program stipulates that patients can get prescriptions from a doctor and purchase the drug from a pharmacy. These include not only dried medicines, but also medical extracts such as oils or capsules containing THC. Eligibility for prescriptions applies to diseases such as cancer, HIV, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, neuropathy, glaucoma, and Crohn’s disease. June 2022. Cyprus Federation of Patients (1)reported that medical marijuana patients still do not have access to the drug, due to the government’s attempt to develop a system of supplying the raw material based on local resources. The Cypriot model also has its flaws. The program is limited because the law allowed only three cannabis producers in the first 15 years of the program. The idea was to attract financially stable companies with global experience in growing and producing medical marijuana. The result is that citizens have limited access to the drug.

Industrial hemp law update and THC limit increase [Q1 2024 update]

In February 2024, the Cypriot Parliament, in consultation with the Minister of Health, introduced an update to the Industrial Hemp Law establishing a new THC limit for crops and hemp products. The Cypriot House of Representatives, in cooperation with various bodies, decided to raise the THC limit from 0.2% to 0.3%. From now on, industrial hemp in Cyprus may contain no more than 0.3% concentration of the psychoactive compound delta-9-THC on a dry weight basis. The consequence of this decision will not only be an increase in the concentration of THC in the final products, but more importantly, it will make it easier for growers. This change was requested by a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, due to the unnecessary legal action taken against farmers whose plants had minor exceedances of THC. During the session, the House of Representatives unanimously passed an update to the bill on the production and trade of industrial hemp, with the aim of bringing it in line with EU regulations. The amended law is retroactive to December 7, 2021, the date on which the relevant European regulation came into effect.

Summary – THC and CBD in Cyprus

Cyprus is one of the few European Union member states that allows the production of medical marijuana on its territory. However, this does not mean that recreational use of marijuana is also permitted on the island. Although in some cases cannabis is legal for use, the penalties for recreational use, possession or sale of marijuana are nevertheless severe and high – including life imprisonment!
Those caught with cannabis in this country can face different types of penalties, depending on the rank of the act committed. It can end in a fine – if the offender is of age and carries only small amounts of the raw material, which can be classified as “for personal use.” For larger quantities, the penalty is eight years in prison. The most severe punishment is for trafficking – here the penalty can be up to life imprisonment – although such a high penalty has not yet occurred.
CBD is legal in Cyprus and you can easily get hemp products with cannabidiol in the formulation there. Most often, however, these products are broad spectrum, meaning they are THC-free. Cultivation of hemp seeds in the country is legal, but the permitted threshold for THC content in them (0.2%) is often exceeded due to the sunny terrain, which favors the production of cannabinoids in the plant. Products with CBD can be found almost everywhere. The only caveat in their sale (aside from their THC content) is that they cannot be advertised as a medical product with any medicinal properties.
THC from cannabis is not a legal drug in Cyprus. Cannabis is classified as a Class B drug there and is illegal. Tourists hoping to consume cannabis recreationally in Cyprus must expect that the police may fine them when they are caught, and they may even end up in jail for doing so. The only option for consuming THC is to consume it as medical marijuana. Cannabis treatment has been legal in Cyprus since 2019, and you can also get a prescription for medical cannabis products there.

Bibliography:

  1. https://www.cyprusprofile.com/articles/no-medicinal-cannabis-three-years-after-law-passed

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