Updated on December 20, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Medical marijuana is a growing topic in Estonia. While medicinal marijuana was legalized more than 10 years ago by officials, the government’s made it a challenge for patients to access it by not implementing a medical marijuana program that supports the cultivation, distribution and recommendation of this natural and effective medicine.
In comparison to other countries, such as Canada or Uruguay, Estonia does not have a medical marijuana program. Instead, the government permits medical cannabis use on a per-patient basis. This approach results in an extensive, complicated process that involves the Ministry of Social Affairs and other departments, in some cases.
If you’re approved to use medical marijuana, Estonia’s laws only permit the use of cannabis-based drugs, such as Marinol, which uses a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). If you want to use actual weed, you must go through an additional review with the State Agency of Medicines and International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
Estonia’s history with marijuana follows a similar story as that of other European countries. For decades, carrying, cultivating, producing or selling cannabis carried severe punishments. In the early 21st century, however, lawmakers decriminalized the possession of 7.5 grams of marijuana.
Later, in 2005, the country legalized medical cannabis through a Ministry of Social Affairs regulation. Since then, legislators haven’t moved to establish a medical marijuana program, though recent petitions are beginning to catch the government’s attention.
While Estonia decriminalized possessing marijuana, cultivating, selling and possessing it are all still illegal. In most cases, violating these laws results in an administrative arrest, but can still lead to fines and prison time. Transporting or delivering cannabis poses the most significant punishment, with a minimum imprisonment of three years and a maximum of 20.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs have incorporated telemedicine into Estonia’s health system. The country’s telemedicine program launched in 2008, and several hospitals support it, including the Tartu University Hospital Foundation, East Tallinn Central Hospital and North Estonia Medical Centre.
Due to the nature of Estonia’s medical cannabis program, legislators don’t define a set of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. As a result, physicians may write on your behalf if they feel your condition, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or psoriasis, would benefit from medical weed.
Agencies that oversee the process for medical marijuana, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs and INCB, do not issue identification or medical cannabis cards. If you’re approved for using medical weed, you won’t have to go through an additional application process.
Some facts about recreational and medical marijuana in Estonia include:
Penalties for recreational and medical marijuana are often fines, with only 10 to 20 percent of offenders receiving administrative arrest for 30 days. Cultivating, distributing and transporting cannabis on a commercial scale all lead to higher penalties, such as prison time.
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