Legal Status of Marijuana in Belgium


Legal Status of Marijuana in Belgium

The land of famed chocolates and waffles unfortunately is not so spectacular when it comes to ganja reform. If you want that, go elsewhere. Further, legalization does not appear to be gaining any traction here, yet.

On the bright side, this is Europe. You won’t go to jail for a joint. Just don’t aggravate anyone by smoking in public.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA IN BELGUIM

Medical cannabis is legal here for the treatment of some chronic illnesses. These include glaucoma, MS-related spasticity, AIDS and chronic pain. You must have a valid prescription from a registered doctor. As of this date, however, it does not appear that many patients are filling their prescriptions in pharmacies. Most patients appear to be growing their own or going to one of five social clubs in operation in the country. Failing that, they cross the border into the Netherlands. This has also met with various levels of political support and opposition.

There has been attempt to redress this situation specifically. Maggie De Block, federal minster of health, is working on a proposal to make pharmacy prescription more mainstream.

Patients may also buy Sativex.

The laissez faire attitude of the government, despite a few backlash campaigns, has been to allow patients to get what they need, in moderation. At one point, an online Dutch pharmacy even sent mail order pot to patients. This has subsequently been shut down.

RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA IN BELGUIM

Cultivation of a single plant has been decriminalized as has possession of up to 3 grams.

That said, cultivation of the plant has blossomed here. It is absolutely up to the discretion of authorities as to how and when you get fined. Bottom line? As a tourist especially, do not flaunt the law.

If you get caught with less than 3 grams and are over 18, you are probably going to get off with a slap on the wrist. This is especially true of a first offense. However, remember that cannabis is only decriminalized here. Those over the age of 18 who are caught with more than 3 grams face fines starting at €75. It is prosecuted as a public nuisance law.

Do not, under any circumstances, sell cannabis here. It is a criminal offense subject to jail sentences of between three months to five years. Fines range between €1,000 and €100,000. Aggravating circumstances including minors, injury or death plus any links to criminal organizations can increase sentences to between 5 and 20 years. Fines can be up to €500,000.

Belgium appears to be in a bit of a retrograde swing on cannabis right now. As of 2014, the far-right leaning government announced its opposition to tolerance policies on cannabis. That said, effectively, the same laws are in place. It is just a matter of discretion how they are applied.