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Slovenia Cannabis Referendum Votes Set For June 9th

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Slovenia’s Freedom Movement, the largest party of the current ruling coalition, was successful in its push to place consulting referendums related to medical and non-medical cannabis use before Slovenian voters. Slovenia’s voters will decide on a medical cannabis referendum question and a “cultivation and possession of cannabis for limited personal use” question on June 9th.

The referendum questions were approved by Slovenia’s National Assembly on April 25th and voting on them will occur alongside the vote for the European Parliament. Opponents of the referendum sought to delay the votes until November, however, the push to delay the vote was unsuccessful.

According to initial domestic reporting by The Slovenia Times, the cannabis referendum questions evolved during the parliamentary process, “from the initial proposal to inquire about support for the cultivation, processing, sale and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes” to two separate questions.

“The question was changed after the parliamentary legal service reminded the initiators that the sale and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is allowed already, but not the cultivation.” The Slovenia Times reported in its coverage.

It is worth noting that the referendum questions are not legally binding, and even if the votes are successful, it’s possible that Slovenia’s governing coalition will not adopt them. However, approval of one or both referendum questions would place considerable political pressure on Slovenia’s lawmakers to respect the will of its constituents.

Per an analysis conducted by Marihuana Marš, Študentska Organizacija Univerze v Ljubljani and published in November 2023, Slovenia is home to over 200,000 cannabis consumers. The same researchers determined that roughly 2,000 criminal offenses involving cannabis occur every year in Slovenia.

Slovenia’s recent cannabis referendum vote approval comes amidst a renewed push by local cannabis advocates to work with lawmakers to modernize Slovenia’s cannabis policies. Slovenia is already an international research and development hub for several industries, including the pharmaceutical industry, and local advocates believe that the same could be true for the emerging global cannabis industry.

“Slovenia has a research and development sector framework in place that few other countries have,” stated Alex Rogers, CEO of the International Cannabis Business Conference and co-founder of the Talman Group. “Slovenia’s research facilities, academic institutions, and product development experts are unrivaled, making Slovenia the perfect place for international cannabis entities to conduct their research and development. It’s a matter of modernizing the nation’s policies and regulations to permit such activity for the legal international cannabis industry.”

Medical cannabis is currently permitted in Slovenia, although domestic production is not allowed, as previously noted in coverage by The Slovenia Times. Still, despite Slovenia’s current limited medical cannabis policies, the use of medical cannabis in Slovenia is already proving to be successful in some cases.

“For the past ten years, we have been treating more than 300 children and adolescents with resistant epilepsies/encephalopathies with add-on cannabidiol and medicinal cannabis with great success, as nearly half of them are seizure-free and the rest reduced the number and severity of their seizures thus improving the quality of life of these patients and their families,” stated Dr. David Neubauer who works at the Department of Child, Adolescent and Developmental Neurology at the University of Ljubljana.

The referendum votes in Slovenia come at a time when many nations in Europe are working to reform their cannabis policies and regulations, with the most noteworthy example being in Germany where a new adult-use cannabis legalization measure took effect on April 1st, 2024.

As of April 1st, adults in Germany can cultivate up to three plants in their private residences and possess up to 25 grams of cannabis while away from their homes. Noncommercial cannabis clubs are expected to launch in Germany in July, and eventually, the nation will also be home to regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot projects.

Regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot projects are already in operation in Switzerland and the Netherlands, and cannabis cultivation, possession, and consumption are currently legal in Malta and Luxembourg. Only time will tell if the same eventually proves to be true for consumers in Slovenia.