Skopje, the capital city of North Macedonia, has been making headlines in recent years for its potential to become the next “Balkan Amsterdam” due to its growing cannabis industry.
While medical marijuana has been legal in North Macedonia since 2016, the legality of recreational use is still a topic of debate.
Currently, the recreational use of marijuana is illegal in North Macedonia.
However, the government has been considering legalizing recreational use in cafes and hospitality places in Skopje, which could potentially boost tourism and revenue for the country.
Despite this, the government has yet to make a final decision on the matter.
Meanwhile, marijuana cultivation has already been established as a growing industry in Macedonia, with some companies exporting medical marijuana products.
As the debate surrounding recreational use continues, it remains to be seen whether Skopje will indeed become the “Balkan Amsterdam” or if the country will take a different approach to its cannabis industry.
Current Laws and Regulations
Possession and Use
In North Macedonia, medical cannabis is legal, while recreational use is still illegal.
Possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use is decriminalized, and offenders may face fines rather than imprisonment.
However, possession of larger amounts of cannabis can lead to imprisonment.
It is important to note that even though medical cannabis is legal, it is only available with a prescription from a licensed physician and can only be obtained from licensed pharmacies.
Patients who use medical cannabis without a prescription may face legal consequences.
Sale and Distribution
Currently, the sale and distribution of cannabis for recreational use is illegal in North Macedonia.
However, the government is considering legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in cafes and hospitality places in the capital, Skopje.
On the other hand, medical cannabis exports have been legal in North Macedonia since 2016. The law allows only oils, extracts, and tinctures to be exported, which are measured by weight and not by volume.
It is important to note that while some countries have legalized cannabis, it is still illegal under international law.
Therefore, it is illegal to transport cannabis across international borders, even if it is legal in the country of origin and the destination country.
Penalties for Violations
Possession and Use
In North Macedonia, possession and use of cannabis for recreational purposes is illegal and can result in fines, community service, or imprisonment.
The amount of the penalty depends on the amount of cannabis in possession:
- Possession of small amounts of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to 300 euros or community service.
- Possession of larger amounts is considered a felony and can result in imprisonment for up to 5 years.
Sale and Distribution
The sale and distribution of cannabis is also illegal in North Macedonia.
Those caught selling or distributing cannabis can face fines, community service, or imprisonment depending on the amount of cannabis involved in the offense.
The sale or distribution of small amounts of cannabis is considered a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of up to 5000 euros or community service.
The sale or distribution of larger amounts is considered a felony and can result in imprisonment for up to 10 years.
It is important to note that penalties for cannabis-related offenses can vary depending on the circumstances of the offense and the discretion of the judge.
Repeat offenders or those caught with large amounts of cannabis may face harsher penalties.
It is also important to note that while medical cannabis is legal in North Macedonia, it is heavily regulated and only available to patients with specific medical conditions.
Enforcement of Laws
North Macedonia legalized medical marijuana in 2016, but recreational use is still illegal.
The government has expressed interest in legalizing recreational use in certain areas, such as hospitality places and tourist hotspots, including Skopje and Ohrid.
As of March 2023, there have been no updates on whether this proposal has moved forward.
It is important to note that while some states in the United States have legalized marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.
The same applies to North Macedonia, where even though there may be discussions about legalizing recreational use, it is still considered illegal under federal law.
The penalties for possessing or selling marijuana in North Macedonia can be severe. Possession of small amounts for personal use is punishable by a fine, while larger amounts or intent to distribute can result in imprisonment.
The severity of the punishment is determined by the amount of marijuana found in possession.
It is also important to note that while some countries in Europe have legalized marijuana, North Macedonia has not.
It is still considered illegal in the country, and visitors should exercise caution when traveling with or using marijuana in North Macedonia.
Public Opinion and Advocacy
Public opinion on the legalization of marijuana in North Macedonia has been mixed. While some citizens support the legalization of medical marijuana, others are against it.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the Center for Research and Policy Making, 43% of respondents were in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, while 51% were against it.
Despite the mixed public opinion, there are advocacy groups in North Macedonia that are pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana.
One such group is the Association for the Legalization of Medical Cannabis in Macedonia, which was formed in 2013. The group advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana and provides information and support to patients who use cannabis for medical purposes.
In addition to advocacy groups, there are also political parties in North Macedonia that support the legalization of marijuana.
In 2016, the Liberal Democratic Party became the first political party in North Macedonia to publicly support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
The party has since proposed legislation to legalize medical marijuana, but it has not yet been passed into law.
Overall, while public opinion on the legalization of marijuana in North Macedonia is mixed, there are advocacy groups and political parties that are pushing for the legalization of medical marijuana.
It remains to be seen whether or not the government will ultimately legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
As of now, cannabis is illegal in Skopje, Macedonia.
However, the government has been discussing the possibility of legalizing recreational use in certain tourist hotspots, including Skopje and Ohrid.
In November 2020, the prime minister announced plans to legalize recreational use in hospitality places, but no official legislation has been passed yet.
Despite the illegality of cannabis, it is still commonly used and easily accessible in Skopje. If you choose to partake, it is important to be aware of the legal risks and to use caution when obtaining and using cannabis.
It is worth noting that medical marijuana is legal in North Macedonia, and there are legal marijuana producers operating in the country. However, this does not extend to recreational use at this time.
In conclusion, while cannabis remains illegal in Skopje, there are discussions and plans to potentially legalize recreational use in certain areas. It is important to stay informed of any updates or changes to the laws and to exercise caution when using cannabis in the meantime.