STA, 6 October 2020 - Hemp growers and supporters have called on the Slovenian government to regulate hemp growing in the country so that farmers producing industrial hemp could be internationally competitive and the industry may grow. They have also called for the commitments for legalisation of medical marijuana to be met.
The call was issued at Tuesday's press conference by the interest association Cannagiz, the Konopko cooperative of hemp growers and the Ljubljana-based International Institute for Cannabinoids (INCANNA).
Presenting the letter sent to the government and parliament, Cannagiz president Rok Terkaj noted that the national authorities have not even gotten the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs from 1961 translated into Slovenian.
As a consequence, the legislation on hemp in Slovenia is one of the most obsolete in the EU, and the growing and processing of hemp is consequently uncompetitive.
Industrial hemp grower Bogdan Mak noted that the size of agricultural land covered with industrial hemp was dropping drastically. Five years ago, it was 500 hectares and now it is less than 200 hectares this year.
He called for regulations to be changed so that multiple sowing of hemp is possible in one year and that growing in greenhouses is allowed, which would increase the volume of produce in a small area and make Slovenian growers competitive in Europe.
Terkaj said that due to restrictions, Slovenian industrial hemp growers were forced to move their businesses to Austria and Italy.
The regulations limit the content of the psychoactive substance THC in industrial hemp to 0.2%, while Cannagiz proposes that the limit be increased to 1%, which would provide for the same level of safety while enabling better production.
When it comes to the use of medical marijuana, the Health Ministry has been called to draft legislation enabling treatment with medical marijuana as a medicine and growing and processing of hemp for medicinal purposes.
Tanja Bagar of INCANNA noted that patients in Slovenia could get synthetically produced cannabinoids in pharmacies, but many of them wanted hemp products due to synergies of various cannabinoids. They resort to black market, where they get unregulated products, she added.
Cannagiz has also called for legalisation of the production and sale of cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from hemp, which is not a psychoactive substance, as only the sale of pharmaceutically synthesised or isolated CBD is allowed in Slovenia at the moment.
Gorazd Reberšek of the association noted that producers of natural CBD were treated by Slovenian law as organisers of the production and trade in prohibited substances.
All our stories on marijuana and Slovenia
STA, 6 August 2020 - Police have seized 2,650 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of around EUR 2 million in the Lendava area in the north-east in what is the biggest cannabis bust in the Pomurje area in recent years. Three middle-aged men were arrested and face up to ten years in prison.
The plants were grown on an island on the Mura river on a plot measuring 100 X 300 metres. The land has multiple owners, with the biggest being the state, and is just next to the Croatian border.
According to Dejan Ravš, the head of the organised crime unit of the Murska Sobota police department, the bust was made following a tip-off to the Lendava police.
Police occasionally laid in ambush at the site but it was only this Monday morning that three men, aged 40, 45 and 48, appeared at the plantation.
A view from the air of the plantation
All three were arrested and police also confiscated their vehicle.
Since the water level of the Mura is high these days, the cannabis plans were transported from the island by a police helicopter.
The plants were 80-110 centimetres high and could be used to produce at least 600 kilogrammes of high quality marijuana with an estimated street value of around EUR 2 million.
They will be dried and used as evidence before being destroyed. The suspects face from one to ten years in prison.
According to Ravš, this is the biggest cannabis bust in the Pomurje area in recent years. This year, five illegal marijuana growing operations were discovered along with two indoor growing facilities.
STA, 26 June 2020 - The National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) has highlighted on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse the problem of widespread cannabis use among Slovenian adolescents. An international study places Slovenia among the countries with the highest shares of 15-year-olds using cannabis.
The institute pointed to the 2018 HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children WHO collaborative cross-national survey) report that showed an average of 13% of 15-year-olds in the 45 participating countries have already used cannabis. The share for Slovenia is 21%, which ranks the country 7th, the NIJZ said.
Slovenia fares even worse when it comes to 15-year-olds who have used cannabis in the 30 days before being quizzed for the survey. The international average is 7%, while it is 13% in Slovenia, which places the country only behind Canada and Bulgaria.
The NIJZ listed relative ease of access as one of the reasons for widespread use of cannabis among Slovenian youngsters. The survey has half of the 15-year-old Slovenian respondents assessing they could obtain cannabis easily or very easily within 24 hours.
Related: Learn Slovenian With Cannabis
The institute stressed the importance of preventive activities, such as equipping young people with proper social, emotional and behavioural skills, and measures aimed at reducing access to drugs, while stressing the use of cannabis among young people is harmful for brain development.
"Research has shown that with children and youngsters cannabinoids affect the development of the part of the brain responsible for the processing of received information and for thought processes helping solve problems and taking decisions. With regular use, these capacities are reduced, especially for those who start using this drug before the age of 18," Ada Hočevar Grom of the NIJZ warned.
Moreover, some research links the use of cannabis to poorer school performance and to the increased risk of the abuse of other drugs and addiction.
STA, 5 March 2020 - In a court epilogue of a cannabis poisoning story that made headlines in 2017, a confectioner from Hoče near Maribor has been handed a 15-month suspended prison sentence for having served cannabis-laced cookies to four of his regular but unsuspecting customers.
Niko Štekar failed to convince the judge that Zlatko Babič, a retired health inspector and fellow Hoče resident, had not informed him of the nature of the butter Babič provided as part of a cookie baking request.
Štekar reportedly baked roughly a kilo of cookies with the THC-laced butter, keeping a share of the product for himself and offering it at one point to four guests without a warning.
Two of the guests - one said he had had ten pieces - ended up in hospital to be diagnosed with THC poisoning.
The couple testified they were convinced that Štekar, who described the cookies as excellent as he detailed the recipe in court, had known the cookies were laced, saying a strange grin escaped him as they started feeling strange in the store and confronted him.
This was also claimed by retired health inspector Babič, who said he had informed the confectioner of the type of butter he was dealing with beforehand.
Babič, who was reported to the police by Štehar, was also facing charges over the manufacture of narcotic drugs, but the judge agreed the purpose of four plants discovered in his garden had indeed been personal use for the alleviation of health issues.
This was not the only widely publicised case of this sort in Slovenia in recent years.
The other involved the organiser of a cannabis plant workshop, which was held in Vrbje near Celje in 2015 and ended with 15 of the 40 participants requiring medical assistance.
Many of the poisoned participants were pensioners and the assistance of a firefighting unit was necessary at the site to get them down from a hay drying frame they had climbed on.
The organiser, who admitted the deed an got away with a one-year suspended prison sentence, said he had not counted on the factor of people eating more of something if it was free.
All our stories on marijuana and Slovenia are here
STA, 26 February - The coalition government that is being formed by Janez Janša is planning to reintroduce military conscription, effectively secure the border, decentralise the country and increase local government funding, as well as introduce a general child benefit.
This follows from a 13-page draft coalition agreement obtained by the STA. The draft was initialled on Monday by Janša's Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi), Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Pensioners Party (DeSUS), but unofficial information indicates the parties have already signed the agreement.
Under the draft, the partners plan to gradually reintroduce conscription, which Slovenia abandoned in 2003, and a six-month military service. They also pledge to "tackle the situation" in the police force and consistently implement asylum procedures.
More on the conscription plans here
The parties have also committed to implement the Constitutional Court ruling mandating equal funding of private and public primary schools, and complete the system to fund science and research.
The per-capita funding of municipalities is to be raised to EUR 623.96 in 2020 and EUR 628.20 in 2021, which compares to EUR 589.11 and EUR 588.30, respectively, under the valid budget implementation act.
The coalition pledge to put in place a housing scheme for young families, build rental flats and establish a demographic and pension fund, headquartered in Maribor. Slovenia's second city will also host a government demographic fund. Pension rights are not to be changed.
The coalition also plan to reform social transfers policy and introduce free kindergarten for second or more children simultaneously enrolled in pre-school care and education. Family-friendly policies also include plans to introduce a universal child allowance.
The coalition pledge to secure extra financing from pubic and other funds in order to establish a financially sustainable and stable financing of the national health system and long-term care, and take effective measures to cut short waiting times in healthcare by engaging all staff resources.
The commitments include adopting legislation on long-term care and reforming the healthcare and health insurance act to change the management and functioning of the Health Insurance Institute and transform top-up health insurance.
Under the plans, employees will be able to take three days of sick leave without seeing a doctor, but only up to nine days a year. Measures are also planned to increase the vaccination rate and to set up an agency for quality of medical services.
The coalition have also committed to reduce taxes on performance bonuses and to reform the public sector wage system by pegging part of pay to performance.
Plans in the judiciary include making court rulings fully public and giving judges the option to pass dissenting opinions. Legislative changes are to affect the Judicial Council, state prosecution service, insolvency law and penal procedure.
The foreign policy agenda includes a pledge to support Western Balkan countries in their integration in the EU and NATO.
Other concrete projects include introducing e-motorway toll stickers and considering the option to transfer the Koper-Divača railway project and its manager 2TDK to the national railways operator.
The coalition would also like to reform land policies and the Farmland Fund, amend the co-operatives act and regulate production and use of cannabis in medicine and industry.
The coalition agreement sets out that the partners are taking the responsibility to manage the state according to voters' will, constitutional values, and rights and obligations as set forth in the agreement, based on the principles of equality and partnership.
The coalition pledges to focus on what connects and unites people in the country, and to advocate cooperation based on the willingness to work for the common good.
Under the draft, the SDS will be responsible for the departments of home and foreign affairs, finance, culture, which includes media, as well as the environment, diaspora and cohesion. The SMC was allocated the briefs of education, economy, public administration and justice, the NSi labour, infrastructure and defence, and DeSUS health, agriculture and the demographic fund.
This is the first in a series on the new government’s plans, to be posted in the next few days, with the whole set here
STA, 31 January 2020 - The Croatian police have caught a couple of marijuana smugglers from Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina near the border with Slovenia. The pair was transporting almost 500 kilos of marijuana, estimated at between EUR 675,000 and EUR 945,000.
The 41-year-old Slovenian and 29-year-old citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina were apprehended on Thursday in Croatia's Radakovo near Brežice in eastern Slovenia, the Croatian Interior Ministry announced on Friday.
The alleged smugglers were transporting 481 kilos of marijuana. They had procured the supplies together, but it is still unclear how they managed to get such a large quantity of the drug.
The pair have been charged with drug trafficking and put in detention.
All our stories on drug trafficking in Slovenia are here
STA, 29 January - Slovenian police have busted an international drug ring in cooperation with police forces from Croatia and several other European countries, seizing 120 kilos of amphetamine and arresting 20 people in nearly 50 raids on Wednesday morning.
The ring supplied the Slovenian drug market as well as international markets, the General Police Administration said in a press release.
The group imported a variety of illegal drugs from abroad and produced vast quantities of amphetamine in Slovenia.
In the course of the investigation, the police collected evidence of at least 48 drug trafficking crimes committed by 45 members of the ring.
This morning, the police carried out 47 house searches in and around Ljubljana, Maribor and Celje, seizing tens of kilos of various illegal drugs, equipment to make and package drugs, precursors, marijuana growing equipment and illegal weapons and ammunition, as well as EUR 150,000 in proceeds from drug sales.
The investigation was steered by the Ljubljana District Prosecutor Office and led by the Ljubljana Criminal Police. It featured close cooperation with the Croatian police, as well as police forces from other European countries.
A total of 460 criminal investigators and police officers from across the country took part in today's sting. The majority of suspects will be charged and brought in front of an investigative judge today, the press release says.
Most of the suspects have been previously involved in drug trafficking crimes or thefts.
STA, 6 November 2019 - Tobacco and alcohol seem to be losing appeal among Slovenian youth, according to a survey presented at a round table debate in Otočec on Wednesday. However, the use of cannabis is on the rise along with social media and video games addictions.
The results of the 2018 international survey Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children show that smoking as a habit has become less common among teenagers, especially 13- and 15-year-olds, heard the debate hosted by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).
The share of youth who were drunk at least twice in their lives also dropped in all age groups, NIJZ head Nina Pirnat said in presenting the results of the survey.
Meanwhile, the use of cannabis seems to be on the rise, as one in five 15-year-olds and almost half of 17-year-olds have tried it.
Another problem is internet additions, with one in ten young people addicted to social media and online videogames.
Martina Vuk, a state secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, said a breakthrough should be made in these fields such as the one that led to a ban on smoking in closed public spaces.
She said this had been achieved only after a broad social debate on smoking, so she believes a general social consensus should be reached on what is acceptable and what is not.
"For as long as we are highlighting wine as food, we do not have a clear picture on what we want," Vuk stressed.
The head of the Public Health Directorate at the ministry, Mojca Gobec, agreed, adding that debates on this must not be confined to experts. "We must raise the debate to the national level," she said.
Vuk thinks progress in this field is being obstructed by strong lobbies on the one hand and weak politicians on the the other.
The participants agreed though that a lot can be done in terms of prevention in schools and with various programmes promoting a healthy lifestyle.
The debate was held as part of a national conference to mark the National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, which the NIJZ hosts in cooperation with the education, health and labour ministries.
All our stories on marijuana in Slovenia are here
July 18, 2019
In a retrial case of two cannabis activists the Higher Court in Maribor changed the previous District Court’s acquittal into a conviction this Tuesday. Sanjin Janšar, founder of the Cannabis Social Club Maribor, was sentenced to one year in prison, while his colleague Tomaž Zagoršak got a one-year suspended sentence with a three-year probation period.
Both men were found responsible for the existence of 44 Cannabis plants, about 6 kg of dried cannabis, 6g of resin and 700 ml of a THC ointment, confiscated in a January 2016 police raid of the Pekarna Cultural Centre in Maribor. According to more than twenty witness testimonials at the first level of the trial, the drugs were mostly sold or given to people in order to treat their various medical conditions.
The District Court then acquitted Sanjin Janšar and Zagoršek in 2017, arguing that with their illegal activities the two were in fact improving, not harming, people’s health, an argument supported by witness testimonials, but as Mladina later pointed out, this was not supported by any expert medical opinion, as the court expert was never called to testify on the possible reasons for of marijuana use and any improvements in patients’ health.
The prosecutor complained at the Higher Court, which eventually decided for a retrial. A new judgement at the Higher Court this Tuesday found the men guilty of illegal production and trafficking of a controlled substance. In sentencing, the court observed the prosecution’s reminder that cannabis remains an illegal substance in the Republic of Slovenia, as well as the defence citing the disproportionality of the small significance of the offence compared to the possible damage achieved by a guilty verdict. The court therefore decided to sentence Jašar to one-year in prison and Zagoršek to one year’s suspended sentence.
In 2017 marijuana was reclassified from class one, among the most harmful of the controlled substances, to a class two controlled substance which can be used in medicine.
STA, 29 May 2019 - The NGO DrogArt has launched a campaign to raise the level of nightlife culture in Slovenia and reduce the dangers of reckless partying.
The NGO is urging nightclubs, bars and event organisers to have trained staff available at all times and raise awareness among their guests about the dangers of drink and driving, including with brochures.
DrogArt would also like them to offer water, condoms and ear plugs to their customers free of charge.
The clubs and events organisers who will meet all these demands will be awarded a special NightArt quality certificate.
According to the head of the NightArt project, Lucija Golčer, many clubs around Europe have such certificates, which cost EUR 200 a year.
In Slovenia no club has received it yet.
DrogArt has promoted the project in several clubs in Ljubljana and one in Maribor, with its activists distributing 550 condoms and 300 ear plugs. The campaign was very well received by the revellers, Golčer said.
DrogArt campaigns against alcohol and drug abuse, offering counselling, psychotherapy and psychosocial assistance to addicts.
Its 2017 on-line survey among 554 drug users and 102 attendants of drug abuse programmes in Slovenia has shown most drug users take drugs a few times a year (22%) and several times a month but less than once a week (22%). They mostly smoke marijuana, or take MDMA, cocaine and amphetamines.
Among the attendants of drug abuse programmes, most respondents said they take drugs every day, mostly methadone, tranquillisers, heroin and marijuana.
Related: What’s on in Ljubljana…