Ljubljana related

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

06 Aug 2020, 17:32 PM

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.

pot marijuana weed slovenia field.PNG

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.

26 Jun 2020, 19:52 PM

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.

Related: Talking with the Slovenian Cannabis Social Club (SKSK) About Its Aims & Achievements

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.

Related: Ljubljana Ranks High in European Consumption of Cocaine and MDMA, in Mid-Range for AmphetaminesLjubljana Ranks High in European Consumption of Cocaine and MDMA, in Mid-Range for Amphetamines

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