Ljubljana related

21 Jul 2022, 11:48 AM

STA, 21 July 2022 - The Ljubljana District Court has found eight people guilty of drug trafficking and related criminal acts and sentenced them to a total of 28 years in prison. The ruling is not yet final, and the sentencing of the alleged leader of the ring has been postponed to autumn due to illness.

Jure Močnik, Branko Šćulija, Samir Velić, Anis Ličina, Jure Slaviček, Luka Korošec Lazić, Svetlan Stjepić and Jernej Kotnik were found guilty of unlawful manufacture and trade of narcotic drugs, illicit substances in sport and precursors to manufacture narcotic drugs as the court declared the ruling on Wednesday.

Stjepić and Šćulija received the highest sentences - seven and a half years in prison each, and a fine of EUR 10,000.

Ličina and Kotnik were sentenced to three years and a half years in prison each, with the former being also slapped with a EUR 7,000 fine, and the latter with a EUR 6,000 fine.

Slaviček and Močnik were sentenced to two and a half years in prison and got a EUR 5,000 fine each, while Korošec Lazić was sentenced to year and a half in prison and will have to pay a EUR 2,000 fine.

The panel of judges, chaired by Srečko Škerbec, found that it was a typical, hierarchically organised criminal ring that carefully checked undercover police officers, including the addresses of their residences, and photographed their documents.

In agreement with the undercover police officers, they planned to transport 30 kilos of cocaine from Ecuador to the Slovenian port of Koper and the Croatian port of Rijeka, but the scheme had not been fully implemented.

Ring members have been found guilty of trading in heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, hashish and amphetamines from September 2017 to January 2020 in Slovenia, Croatia and Austria, to earn at least EUR 1.3 million.

A total of 33 people had been initially charged, and the trial has ended for 13 people, who did not immediately plead guilty. Five people have been acquitted due to lack of evidence.

The trial took place without the chief defendant, Aleš Zupančič, who fell ill a few weeks ago. His lawyer was expected to deliver closing arguments yesterday, but she had also fallen ill, so this part of the trial was postponed to the autumn.

19 Jul 2022, 10:29 AM

STA, 18 July 2022 - A retrial in the case of the confectioner from Hoče near Maribor, who was found guilty in 2020 for lacing cookies with cannabis and selling them to unsuspecting customers, has resulted in the court finding Niko Štekar guilty and handing him a 15-month suspended prison sentence, according to the newspaper Večer.

The Maribor District Court found Štekar guilty of baking cannabis-laced cookies for Zlatko Babič, a retired health inspector, and later serving them to regular but unsuspecting customers, failing to inform them of the nature of the butter Babič provided as part of a cookie baking request.

Two of the customers ended up seeking medical assistance for THC poisoning after eating a substantial amount of the cookies.

The first-instance ruling was later upheld by a higher court, so it became final, but the defence had the ruling overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The Supreme Court ruled that the case should be retried before a different judge.

In the first trial, Babič also faced charges over the manufacture of narcotic drugs, but the judge found him not guilty and agreed that Babič meant to use the cannabis-laced butter he delivered to Štekar for personal use in order to alleviate health issues.

According to Večer, Štekar still maintains he was not aware the butter contained cannabis, whereas Babič claims he made this clear upon making the cookie-baking request.

The defendant's life companion corroborated his claims by saying she saw the cookie dough in the fridge and did not suspect it to be laced with anything, but this failed to convince either the prosecutor or the judge Mateja Kamenšek Gornik, who upheld the first-instance verdict and found Štekar guilty.

23 May 2022, 11:53 AM

STA, 23 May - The Supreme Court has annulled the 15-month suspended sentence handed out to a confectioner from Hoče for baking THC-laced cookies for a health inspector back in August 2017 and offering them to customers. The court said that it had not been proven in the trial that Nik Štekar had known that the cookies contained THC, the newspaper Večer reports.

Štekar was sentenced to the suspended prison sentence with a probation period of two years by the Maribor District Court in March 2020 as he served the cookies to four of his regular but unsuspecting customers.

He allegedly baked the cookies for Zlatko Babič, a retired health inspector and fellow resident of Hoče near Maribor, while he was not informed 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 verdict was upheld by the Maribor Higher Court, with the newspaper Delo reporting at the time that the judges said that an explanation different than that he had known about the content of the cookies could not be accepted.

They noted that Štekar had told the guests, who later had to seek medical attention, that there was nothing hazardous in the cookies, which was an unusual thing to say when food is served in an establishment where food was supposed to be harmless.

Štekar's defence turned to the Supreme Court, which has recently ruled that it had not been proven in the trial that Štekar had known that the cookies contained THC, Večer reported on Monday.

Annulling the rulings of the district and higher courts, the Supreme Court said a retrial should be held before a different judge, so the file has been handed to Mateja Kamenšek Gornik, the newspaper added.

When the new judge asked the defendant last week if he would defend himself, he said that he had already said everything he had to say.

Večer notes that Babič explained in the first trial that he had asked the confectioner if he would bake him cookies with THC, and that Štekar had agreed to this. Babič confirmed this last week when he appeared in court as a witness.

The trial will continue on 21 June, the newspaper adds.

17 Mar 2022, 16:22 PM

STA, 17 March 2022 - All Slovenian cities are above the European average in the use of cannabis, an international study based on wastewater analysis for 2021 has shown. The highest concentration of cocaine biomarker in Slovenia was found in Koper.

The study, published on Thursday by the SCORE group in association with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, analysed wastewater in 75 European cities from 25 countries, including Turkey.

It looked for traces of four illicit stimulant drugs (cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA/ecstasy) as well as cannabis, showing the use of most of the drugs returned to the pre-pandemic levels last year after falling the year before.

Slovenia has participated in the study for the fifth year; since 2019 six Slovenian cities or urban areas have been included; Ljubljana, Domžale-Kamnik, Maribor, Koper, Novo Mesto and Velenje.

The port city of Koper had the highest levels of biomarkers of cocaine, ahead of Ljubljana, and Maribor had the lowest. With the exception of Koper, all Slovenian cities ranked below SCORE monitoring average of population-normalised loads.

Velenje in the mid-north-east had the highest concentrations of traces of ecstasy and amphetamine in its wastewaters among the Slovenian cities included in the study.

The urban areas of Domžale and Kamnik north of Ljubljana, Maribor and Koper had amphetamine below the quantification level in all samples of wastewaters. The capital Ljubljana had the highest levels of methamphetamine and THC residues.

While all Slovenian cities were above average in terms of THC concentrations, they were deep below average in methamphetamine. The most popular drugs are THC and cocaine, according to the study.

Over the past five years, amphetamine and MDMA (ecstasy) levels dropped in Ljubljana, with the exception of the high level of MDMA in 2020. The trend is similar for cocaine as methamphetamine and THC use appear to be constant.

Cocaine and THC use has been on the increase in Maribor and Domžale-Kamnik as the latter has been seeing a falling trend when it comes to amphetamine. Velenje saw an increase in cocaine levels in 2021.

See the full report

17 Feb 2022, 12:45 PM

STA, 17 February 2022 - Slovenian company PharmaHemp has started building an EUR 11 million facility to produce and process hemp products in Komenda, north of Ljubljana, in what it says will bring together the broadest range of services in the field of hemp in Europe.

The 3,320-square metre hemp factory will be "the most modern and technologically-advanced infrastructure for the processing and production of raw materials and products from hemp", the company announced in a press release.

The investment into production, storage and office premises is to enable the company to later expand to the pharmaceutical business of production of active substances suitable to be built into various types of cannabis-based medications.

"The expansion will add to the company's existing portfolio of technological solutions in research, development, processing, production and laboratory testing of raw materials and industrial hemp products," reads the release from PharmaHemp.

The company says it is one of few to have successfully completed the validation process for two applications for novel food authorisation with the European Commission, for cannabidiol (CBD) and for hemp extract. The procedure validates the safety of products containing CBD and other cannabinoids.

According to information posted on its website, PharmaHemp started out as a family business in the former Yugoslavia in 1965 before introducing in 1995 a pioneering line of body care products enriched with cold pressed hemp oil.

Lean more about PharmaHemp

19 May 2021, 20:16 PM

STA, 18 May 2021 - Slovenian cities are mostly below international average when it comes to the use of illicit drugs, with the exception of ecstasy levels in Ljubljana and amphetamine in Velenje, an international study based on wastewater analysis for 2020 has shown.

The study, released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, in cooperation with the SCORE network, involved 99 cities in 27 countries with a total population of 50 million, including six Slovenian cities or urban areas.

According to information provided by the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS), which coordinates the study in Slovenia, Ljubljana recorded the highest levels of biomarkers of cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine in its wastewater, while Velenje had the highest level of traces of amphetamine among the six Slovenian towns included in the study.

All average levels in the Slovenian urban areas were below the SCORE average, with the exception of MDMA or ecstasy in Ljubljana. The biomarker of cocaine, BE, was just below the average in Ljubljana and Koper.

Compared to European and world capitals, Slovenian cities rank in the upper half of the list of all the cities included in the study when it comes to the levels of benzoylecgonine, the biomarker of cocaine, in their sewage water, while they rank in the lower half in terms of other biomarkers.

Two exceptions are amphetamine in Velenje, in the mid-north-east of the country, and MDMA in the capital Ljubljana, which the IJS notes rank in the upper half of the range.

The analysis has also shown that cocaine and cannabis are the most widely used, with the cannabis leading by the number of doses.

This is the fourth time that Slovenia and Ljubljana have been included in the study. To make out reliable trends, at least five years of monitoring would be needed, although the IJS has detected some specific temporal trends in the use of certain drugs for each Slovenian urban area involved.

Compared with the year before, the use of illicit drugs in Ljubljana declined last year, with the exception of MDMA, the use of which increased. The same trend is observed for cocaine and cannabis over the four years with a general declining trend. So has the use of amphetamine decreased, while the use of methamphetamine was increasing until 2019 before falling in 2020.

The Domžale-Kamnik urban area in central Slovenia and Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, took part in the study for the third consecutive year. Last year Maribor recorded somewhat lower levels of illicit stimulants but somewhat higher levels of cannabis compared with the year before.

Domžale and Kamnik also recorded a decline in traces of cocaine, amphetamine in their wastewater, as well as comparable levels of MDMA and increased levels of methamphetamine and cannabis compared with 2019. Over the past three years, there is a falling trend for amphetamine and an increase in the use of cannabis.

Koper, Novo Mesto and Velenje were included in the analysis for the second time. Koper saw a drop in the use of all types of the monitored drugs, with the exception of methamphetamine, whose levels were flat. Lower levels of stimulants were also detected in Novo Mesto (SE), and comparable levels in Velenje.

You can find the full report in PDF and interactive forms here

24 Feb 2021, 16:47 PM

STA, 24 February 2021 - The government has established a task force for hemp management that will assist it in looking for solutions for regulating the growing and processing of hemp for medical purposes. It will also look to enable demographically endangered areas in Slovenia develop this activity into revenue-making business.

The task force has been formed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, which told the STA on Wednesday that it would consult with external stakeholders about the efforts to regulate growing and processing of hemp for medical purposes.

It will be also coming with concrete proposals, including for developing this activity into revenue-making business in "demographically endangered areas, with which new jobs will be created."

"This will help stop people moving from these areas and lead to them actually gradually moving there," the ministry added.

Regulation of growing and processing of hemp for medical and industrial purposes is part of the coalition agreement.

Prime Minister Janez Janša said last November that the Slovenian legislation in that part was "perhaps too rigid." He agreed that Slovenian growers are being put in a position that makes them non-competitive, and that the field needed to be regulated.

Janša said that changes to two relevant regulations were in the making that would introduce the possibility to grow hemp with seedlings and to grow hemp in greenhouses, and determine conditions for growing of seedlings intended for sale or further processing. They are expected to be adopted this spring.

All our stories on cannabis and Slovenia

19 Feb 2021, 12:00 PM

STA, 18 February 2021 - The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) has tabled a bill that would legalise the growing of medical marijuana, a step it says would improve access for patients.

"We're not talking about marijuana legalisation, we want to create the legislative conditions to grow this plant for medical purposes," MP Andrej Rajh told the press on Thursday.

Under existing rules, it is permitted to use marijuana for medical purposes, but since growing is not allowed Slovenia relies on imports of mostly synthetic products.

Slovenia has a thriving underground market in medical marijuana, a substance particularly popular among chronic patients and people with cancer.

According to Rajh, the new legislation, which is modelled on Germany's 2017 law, would regulate the market and provide medical marijuana grown in a controlled way.

Borut Štrukelj of the Ljubljana Faculty of Pharmacy said there were currently two institutions in that grow medical marijuana for scientific purposes, specifically to determine which cultivars are best for different growing conditions.

"There is a lot of knowledge," he said, noting that pharmacies could make products from Slovenian-grown cannabis.

He said this would also reduce the size of the black market, create export opportunities and generate significant budget revenue.


All our stories about cannabis and Slovenia

16 Nov 2020, 16:53 PM

STA, 16 November 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced in parliament on Monday support for the relaxing of rules on the growing of cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes. He said the Agriculture Ministry was already drawing up changes, which are expected to be confirmed in the spring.

Asked by Janja Sluga of the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) whether the government planned a comprehensive regulatory framework for this field, Janša agreed that certain rules on growing medicinal and industrial cannabis were "probably too rigid and undermined the competitive ability of Slovenian producers".

While Sluga of the SMC, which proposed a full legalisation of cannabis in February 2018, spoke of "a multi-billion business in Europe" and of Slovenia's legislation in this field being "one of the most outdated in Europe", Janša said the ministry was drawing up new rules governing the growing of cannabis and cannabis seedlings.

"Both sets of regulations are expected to be adopted in the spring next year," he explained, saying all relevant acts were subject to coordination within the coalition.

The growing and use of cannabis have been subject to several attempts at legislative change in recent years and the use of standardised cannabis buds for medicinal purposes was legalised in March 2017. However the growing of medical cannabis is still prohibited.

Past proposals have also included the raising the THC ceiling for industrial hemp from 0.2% to 0.9%, which would allow domestic growers to use Slovenian seeds as opposed to imports.

07 Oct 2020, 12:04 PM

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

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