Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Although Austria decriminalized the use of medical marijuana for qualified patients, the country strictly enforces laws surrounding illegal cultivating and distribution. It’s crucial to understand the decrees about legal forms of medical cannabis to receive the medication you deserve without committing unlawful acts.
Laws surrounding the cultivation of marijuana — for either recreational or medical purposes — continue to prohibit the private farming of this substance. While owners can legally grow hemp plants, the issue arises once these plants bloom. As a result, regulations surrounding cultivation are tricky, and any individual seeking marijuana cultivation should do so with caution.
The use of marijuana is legal, but only when an individual does not share their cannabis products. Any form of distributing, cultivating or “sharing” this substance is strictly prohibited.
Currently, citizens seeking cannabis for medical purposes in Austria do not need to join an official medical marijuana program. Legally, civilians are permitted to use hemp and marijuana products.
While the 2008 decriminalization of medical marijuana lawfully grants patients access to cannabis for medical reasons, Austria still has yet to distribute government-grown and authorized marijuana to its patients. Individuals desiring Dronabinol and Sativex can legally import and purchase these products, but are still not permitted to grow large portions on their own land.
In 2008, Austrian legislation overthrew previous drug laws in favor of a bill that permitted marijuana for personal use — whether that’s recreational or medical. Any quantity of cannabis products for personal use is legal.
However, sharing, cultivating and distributing any marijuana products is prohibited. This amendment makes it difficult at times to determine whether cannabis grown in one’s private space is for individual use or public distribution — an act punishable by law. Any citizen who cannot provide substantial evidence that the cannabis products in their possession are for personal use only could face a prison sentence of up to six months, as well as an accompanying fine.
Although patients can lawfully access cannabis products for medical treatment, no individual is legally permitted to produce marijuana. By law, the act of creating cannabis starts when the bud separates from the plant and more than 20 grams of THC is produced. However, the country has experienced several instances of acquittals for arrested citizens who forcefully argued their homegrown marijuana was for personal use.
Cultivation is a punishable crime across all fields of use. Any individual seeking medical marijuana must receive their medication from a governmental department regulated by the Health Ministry. Affordable alternatives legally approved for importation include Dronabinol and Sativex.
Individuals with a valid prescription authorized by a licensed doctor or physician can access synthetic cannabis preparations, including Sativex and Dronabinol, that may otherwise not be permitted to the general public. Patients must still follow guidelines regarding distribution and cultivation.
Although the Austrian government legalized medical marijuana in 2008, the availability of government-grown and cultivated cannabis is still an issue. Patients may have trouble locating the cannabis necessary for treatment while also receiving penalties for personal cultivation if convicted of growing marijuana in excess.
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