A Croatian lawmaker has introduced a bill that would legalize recreational cannabis sales and permit adults to grow up to nine marijuana plants for personal use.
Mirela Holy, president of the Social Democratic Party’s Green Development Council, hopes to make Croatia the first country in Europe with a legal adult-use cannabis industry. She hailed the example set by Uruguay, Canada, and various U.S. states, and said that legalization could provide a significant boost to the country’s economy, while helping combat the illicit market.
Holy announced that the bill would be subject to public debate within a week, and then it will go up for a full parliamentary debate. She has proposed a state agency hybrid model, which would see the government work with the private sector to ensure a “high quality” standard is maintained across the industry.
Croatia legalized medicinal cannabis back in 2015 and it has also decriminalized recreational cannabis use, which is now punishable only by a fine. However, supplying cannabis remains a felony, carrying a mandatory prison sentence of at least three years.
Holy claimed that the North American recreational cannabis market is worth $43.7 billion, and said it is time for Croatia to reap the economic benefits of legalization. She was asked if Croatia is too conservative to follow suit, and said that attitudes have shifted in recent years.
“When I started talking about it a few years ago, the reactions were terrible, but things have changed,” said Holy.
She believes that better education on the benefits of cannabis legalization would help create support for the measure. She added that cannabis is not addictive, like alcohol and nicotine, and that nobody has ever died from an overdose.
Her bill would also legalize hemp use for commercial purposes. Holy hailed its economic potential and its versatility as she encouraged legislative colleagues to re-evaluate any prejudices they may have and pass the bill.
Holy previously served as Minister for Environment during the government of Zoran Milanovic, and she has always passionately championed environmental causes. She said that hemp can benefit the environment in many ways and that Croatia should harness its full potential.