Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, has been making headlines in recent years for its potential to become the next “Amsterdam of the Balkan” due to its growing cannabis industry.
However, while marijuana for medical and scientific purposes is legal in the country;
Possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis for recreational reasons are all currently illegal in Macedonia.
But despite the current debate over the legalization of marijuana, 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
Under the present law in Macedonia, the possession and use of marijuana are considered illegal.
This prohibition encompasses both recreational and medicinal usage and extends to any quantity – small or large.
Now, we did mention that marijuana for medical purposes is considered legal; however, this doesn’t mean that you can legally obtain it for medicinal purposes.
The reason for this is that the law regarding medicinal marijuana usage is incredibly convoluted, often seemingly conflating cannabis with hemp, which are two very different products.
From what we understand, it’s suggested that the use of marijuana for medical purposes is technically legal, but certification can be obtained only through government-approved specialist physicians and can only be prescribed for specific conditions, like multiple sclerosis and some cancers.
With that said, the possession of small amounts of cannabis (up to 5 grams) for personal use is decriminalized, and offenders may face monetary fines rather than imprisonment.
However, if you’re found in possession of small amounts of cannabis, it will be seized, and you will be detained.
You can expect to be questioned by law enforcement, who may ask you to identify your supplier, and you’ll likely face a fine.
On the other hand, possession of larger amounts of cannabis (over 5 grams) can lead to imprisonment of up to 5 years, and you may even face criminal charges, be suspected of drug trafficking, and serve a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Therefore, it is essential to realize that even though the possession and use of marijuana may seem like a minor offense in Macedonia, it can still have serious legal consequences.
Sale and Distribution
Currently, the sale and distribution of cannabis for recreational use is illegal in 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 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 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:
Sale and Distribution
The sale and distribution of cannabis is also illegal in 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 5,000 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.
However, it is important to note that penalties for cannabis-related offenses can vary depending on the circumstances of the offense and the judge’s discretion, with factors like the amount of marijuana involved and prior convictions being considered.
In short, repeat offenders or those caught with large amounts of cannabis may face harsher penalties.
It’s also crucial to remember that these laws are subject to change, and it’s always important to stay informed about the most current regulations.
Enforcement of Laws
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 October 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 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 Macedonia can be serious and even 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 as well as other factors such as prior convictions, etc.
It is also important to note that while some countries in Europe have legalized marijuana, Macedonia has not.
It is still considered illegal in the country, and visitors should exercise caution when traveling with or using marijuana in Macedonia.
Public Opinion and Advocacy
The local attitude towards marijuana in Macedonia is quite varied, with distinct generational and cultural divides.
It’s safe to say that older generations tend to hold more traditional views, often viewing cannabis use unfavorably due to its illegality and the associated penalties.
However, younger generations, particularly in urban areas like Skopje, adopt a more liberal stance, reflecting a broader societal shift toward acceptance.
Regardless, it’s important to remember that public use of marijuana is frowned upon and can attract unwanted attention from law enforcement.
Usage Among Locals
In terms of usage among locals, accurate data is hard to come by due to the illicit nature of the substance.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis use is prevalent, particularly among the younger population.
However, due to the stiff penalties and social stigma attached to marijuana use, it often occurs behind closed doors, and users tend to be very discreet about their habits.
Despite the mixed public opinion, there are advocacy groups in 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 and advocates for the legalization of medical marijuana while also providing information and support to patients who use cannabis for medical purposes.
In addition to advocacy groups, there are also political parties in Macedonia that support the legalization of marijuana.
In 2016, the Liberal Democratic Party became the first political party in Macedonia to publicly support the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes.
The party has also 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 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.
If you find yourself in a situation where you require legal assistance as a visitor in Macedonia, there are several resources available to you:
Contacting Your Consulate
If you encounter legal trouble in Macedonia, it might be helpful to contact your country’s embassy or consulate.
Here are the contact details for a few:
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 now ex-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 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.