Marijuana in Sweden: Legal and Medicinal Status of Weed

The Legal and Medicinal Status of Weed

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Marijuana laws in Sweden are some of the harshest in Europe, and the country outright bans any and all possession, sale, transport, and cultivation of cannabis, including medical marijuana—with few exceptions.

Weed is very uncommon in Sweden, so you'll even have a hard time finding it as a consumer unless you know someone who grows it. Due to the risks associated with possession and distribution of this substance, even known sellers will not be open about their business and prices will be much higher than in legal shops in the United States.

However, the cities at times consider marijuana to be "street legal" and acceptable to smoke in a few quiet streets where it does not bother any passers-by. Still, it's important to keep in mind that the possession, transport, cultivation, and sale of cannabis is federally illegal in Sweden and many Swedish law enforcement officers and lawmakers do not distinguish between weed and harder drugs.

The national police use the standards of a particular policy known as "disturb and annoy," backed by the government's zero-tolerance policy. This means that police may stop an individual on the suspicion of drug use—and the police are trained on how to spot someone under the influence of a narcotic. They do not need any further reason than suspicion to make an arrest.

Traveling to Sweden With Weed

Carrying marijuana with you for international travel is rarely a good idea, even with the proper medical paperwork, but trying to smuggle weed into Sweden is at the top of the list of things not to do when visiting this country.

The best advice is to not risk bringing this illegal substance with you, even if it's a small amount. Although drug dogs for customs in Sweden might not be trained to target marijuana specifically, its strong odor and the rigorous screening officers use will likely lead them to find your stash.

If you are caught with marijuana by Swedish customs officers, you will immediately be handed over to the police and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, which means that your possession and transportation of cannabis would be handled as any other drug would.

Punishment for Possession of Weed in Sweden

The punishments for possession, sale, cultivation, and transport of marijuana can range from a fine to a  6-month prison sentence for minor offenses, up to three years in prison for regular offenses, and up to 10 years for serious offenses.

As such, marijuana laws in Sweden are often known as some of the harshest in the world. In fact, law enforcement almost always prosecutes users—the only exception being users under 18 who are often warned rather than prosecuted in cases of first-time infractions.

Perhaps because of these strict laws, Sweden has one of the lowest drug usage rates in the western world, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Where Smoking Marijuana Is Safer

The best advice for travelers visiting the south of Sweden is to follow the direction of other cannabis users and take the train to Copenhagen to hang out on Pusher Street in the Christiana district. Although weed is not technically legal in Denmark, the police typically turn a blind eye to users in this particular "hippie district."

You should not buy your weed in Sweden; rather, look for it on Pusher Street upon your arrival in Copenhagen, but remember to use all of it or leave it behind when making your return train or ferry trip back to Sweden.

Carrying weed on international transportation is an immediate offense against drug laws in both countries. Transportation of drugs across borders is a much higher offense that could result in stiffer penalties including jail time. No matter if you are a local or a visitor in Sweden, you will be prosecuted if caught.

Medical Marijuana in Sweden

Although Sweden has not officially recognized the validity of medical marijuana, there are a few international policies that might protect medical cannabis patients who are traveling to Scandinavia with weed.

Still, medical use is not seen as an extenuating circumstance by lawmakers in the country. Instead, courts in Sweden view the medical use of cannabis as aggravated circumstances. In one particular case that drew international attention, a woman with multiple sclerosis, who claimed medical marijuana helped her condition, was given an unconditioned jail sentence because she lacked the motivation to stop using the drug.

However, cannabinoid mouth spray called Sativex was approved in 2011 by the Swedish government for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis. Additionally, two patients were approved on an individual basis for the medical use of marijuana by Sweden's Medical Products Agency (MPA) for the first time in 2017, opening the door for others to plead their case for use in front of a court.