Greece was historically one of the first countries to prohibit the use and cultivation of cannabis, citing it as an “imminent threat to society.” That was 1890, and a century later, penalties have only slight loosening for possession of small amounts, expressing an overall sense of hostility for the plant. This year, two proposals made their way to the Greek government in an effort to achieve a progressive national stance on medical cannabis. In February, twenty members of a Greek left-wing political party called SYRIZA proposed an initiative aiming to legalize the cultivation of hemp for medicinal purposes. SYRIZA cited the beneficial effects in cases of dangerous diseases such as glaucoma, cancer, and epilepsy, making the legislation for cannabis as medicine integral to treatment.

The criminalization of cannabis has led many patients to acquire cannabis through illegal pipelines, entailing a substantial loss of revenue for the State, as well as an increase in organized crime activities, contended the SYRIZA representatives. Just last month, SYRIZA put an added pressure on the Greek government, this time pitching legalization of medical marijuana for use and possession. Thirty-six members of the leftist group pleaded alongside Minister of Health Panagiotis Kouromblis on behalf of patients all over the country that are desperately seeking marijuana reform. SYRIZA presented the Minister with data from other European countries who have legalized medicinal marijuana to show potential benefits for legalization. Greece has fallen into a critical financial state, and should take cues from other countries on marijuana reform to maximize their revenue.

The powers of Greece have finally answered the call of many, organizing for the formation of a group tasked with investigating how other countries have implemented their policies for marijuana legislation, developing the best possible practices on their findings, and proposing a system that could thrive particularly in Greece. This team will reconvene and submit their overall conclusions to the Minister of Health Kouromblis by October 30, 2016.

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