Medical Marijuana in Finland
Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Following its legalization of medical marijuana, Finland has continued to integrate its medical cannabis program into its healthcare system. Though recreational weed remains illegal, the ability to access medical cannabis has offered patients across the country the opportunity to alleviate symptoms traditional drugs could not.
Medical Marijuana Program in Finland
Since 2012, Finland’s medical marijuana program has undergone several changes. Its approval of the cannabis-based medicine, Sativex, eliminated the application process for both pharmacies and patients, though traditional medical marijuana, which is supplied by Bedrocan, requires a special permission permit.
Because pharmacies fulfill medical marijuana orders, Finland permits physicians to prescribe medical weed. An exception, however, is that specialists must recommend it, rather than a general practitioner. These prescriptions are valid for a 30-day supply and are covered by health insurance.
History of Medical Marijuana in Finland
During the 1700s, hemp was the leading crop in Finland. As the popularity of cotton and flax grew, the cultivation of hemp decreased. Centuries later, during the late 1900s, the government began to criminalize both recreational and medicinal weed.
It took until the early 2000s, more than 30 years later, for the country to rethink its marijuana laws. While Finland legalized medical cannabis, it did not change its stance on the recreational use of weed. However, it did reform the processing of charges for cultivating, carry or selling marijuana.
Possession and Cultivation of Medical Marijuana in Finland
While you may possess medical cannabis in Finland, you cannot cultivate it. Carrying recreational weed is also subject to day-fines, though you may face additional penalties if you have more than 15 grams of medical pot on your person.
Telemedicine in Finland
Back in 1994, the Finnish Health Care System began implementing telemedicine. Many hospitals throughout the country now offer telelaboratory and teleradiology services, including remote consultations you can use to make your medical care more convenient.
Qualifying Conditions for Medical Marijuana in Finland
Finland does not limit which ailments are eligible for medical cannabis. Instead, patients and their physicians determine together if medical weed is an ideal treatment option for their conditions or symptoms. Medications like Sativex, however, are only approved for select conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Finland
Depending on your condition, you may have to apply for a medical marijuana card. In Finland, these are referred to as a Special Permission for Compassionate Use. Applications for these permits are submitted to and approved by the Finnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA). If you receive a prescription for Sativex, you do not need to apply.
Facts About Medical Marijuana in Finland
A few facts about Finland’s thriving medical marijuana program include:
- Three types of medical cannabis are available: Bediol, Bedica and Bedrocan.
- FIMEA issued more than 100 Compassionate Use permits in 2014.
- Cannabis quotas topped more than 40,000 in 2014 and are expected to rise.
Medical Marijuana Penalties in Finland
Finland’s medical marijuana penalties can be severe. Its laws do not differentiate cultivating from selling or transporting from producing — instead, all penalties are based on the amount of cannabis in question. As a result, punishments can range from a day-fine to up to 10 years in prison.
Get the Latest News on Medical Marijuana in Finland
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we provide continuous coverage on medical marijuana in Finland and around the world. Through our expansive resource library and doctor-patient portal, we help patients, physicians and caregivers learn more about medical cannabis laws, programs, research and more.
Read up on the latest developments in Finland’s medical marijuana program by following our blog!
Are you a patient in Finland interested in medical marijuana? Use this information to figure out how to get started finding a treatment plan for your chronic illness.
Is Marijuana Legal in Finland?
Marijuana laws in Finland aren’t quite as slack as they are in some other countries like Amsterdam, but the Finnish government has taken steps in recent years to relax some areas of their cannabis policies. As a traveler, it’s important to know the current laws.
Though not completely banned in the country, marijuana is by no means fully legalized in Finland either. In 2008, after years of prohibition, the country made the progressive choice to allow for cannabis to be prescribed medically.
However, unlike the United States, where doctors can prescribe cannabis as a treatment for all kinds of ailments, it is much more difficult to get a prescription for cannabis in a country with such strict drug laws as Finland has. Though there are many high ranking officials who have come out in support of medical marijuana use, its use is still met with contempt by many of the bureaucrats working in health care. Medical marijuana is approved for use only when it has been proven that commonly accepted medications have effectively failed to help the patient.
As a consequence, there are very few people in the country who are legally allowed to possess and use the plant.
Getting caught smoking in public will land the offender a fine. That’s not so bad, but the downside is that it gives police a reason to search the homes of anyone caught smoking or in possession of any plants, growing materials, paraphernalia, or anything else that might give them reasonable suspicion of illegal activities. Those offenses can add up quickly, and, depending on what police find in the home, the small fine for possession can suddenly turn into a large fine, possible jail time, and probation.
Due to the stiffness of international drug laws, it’s not at all advisable to travel into the country with marijuana, even with a medical prescription from home, unless the transport has somehow been officially approved by Finnish authorities beforehand. Just don’t do it.
Marijuana cultivation, regardless of the size and scope of the operation, is automatically categorized as production, which is a very serious offense in Finland. This carries with it much more severe penalties than mere possession.
The distribution of marijuana is still very much a crime, though unlike cultivation, the severity of the punishment varies depending on the amounts involved.
Finnish dealers caught with smaller amounts may get off with a fine as a slap on the wrist, while repeat offenders or those with a larger amount on them may be facing sentences carrying jail time.
Oddly enough, the possession and sale of cannabis seeds are legal in Finland, and there are many head shops that operate freely and legally selling pipes and other paraphernalia. Sales are restricted, however, and they may only be purchased by those over the age of 18. Other hemp products such as soaps, shampoos, and ropes can be bought and sold freely.
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Cannabis laws in Finland aren't quite as slack as they are in some other countries but the government has taken steps in recent years to relax them.