La Belgium is often presented as a country ahead of its time. At least with its European neighbours, who are more hesitant about certain major societal changes. She is thus regularly quoted for her love for freedom, and bold legislation on subjects as sensitive as abortion, euthanasia, marriage for all or even medically assisted procreation. Result of the races, it is often thought (wrongly) that Belgium tolerates the consumption of cannabis. It's wrong. Or at least much more nuanced than that. This article reviews the cannabis legislation in Belgium, the risks involved and the likelihood (or not) of legalization in the short term.
History of cannabis legislation in Belgium
Since 1921, Belgium has experienced a succession of laws, circulars and other ministerial directives concerning cannabis legislation which make the exact actual situation relatively unclear. The least that can be said is that both consumers and lawyers are navigating on this subject in a mishmash of gray areas among which sometimes a saving ray of light pierces. Thus, a small amount of weed (less than three grams) for personal use usually does not cause great harm to its owner. Let's dwell for a moment on the main constituent elements of the Belgian law on this subject in order to better explain what it is possible to do… and what it is better to avoid.
Key dates regarding cannabis legislation in Belgium
- Before 2003: Cannabis is illegal. The law in force covers cultivation, marketing and consumption, whether for private use or not.
- 2003: a new law announces the elimination of the systematic drafting of a report in the event of consumption of less than three grams of hashish (resin and pollen). The cultivation of one female plant per consumer is also tolerated, for personal consumption.
- 2005: direct consequence of the disagreement of part of the political class with the easing enacted in 2003, a new ministerial directive specifies that the possession of cannabis for personal use on Belgian soil (always for a maximum of three grams) or cultivation of a female plant must constitute the lowest degree in the scale of sanctions. Personal consumption is therefore weakly sanctioned… but sanctioned all the same! Recording of minutes is no longer anonymous. However, the so-called “simplified” reports are still preferred and they do not lead to the seizure of cannabis. Understand: you are not allowed to possess cannabis, but if you do and you are arrested, you can keep it.
- 2018: simplified reports (PVS) are always preferred, but the cannabis must also be seized.
Cannabis legalization in Belgium: what is allowed and what is not
As you will have understood, marijuana is not authorized in Belgium. Still, Belgians (or foreigners on Belgian soil) who nevertheless decide to smoke can get away with it rather easily if they take a few precautions:
- To be of age. Minors cannot indeed consume or possess cannabis, even in small quantities, under penalty of being subject to an ordinary report (and not a PVS). In addition to the report, the parents are notified and the minor may be required to perform community service.
- Have no more than three grams of cannabis (flowers, resin or pollen) on oneself, per person.
- Do not grow more than one plant at home and, where applicable, ensure that it does not cause any inconvenience to the neighborhood (smell, exposure to passers-by or neighbours, etc.).
- Not have a personal reserve from the harvest of this same plant of more than 90 grams, in a single container. A direct consequence of the single plant policy, this personal reserve must obviously only come from one and the same genetics. In case of doubt, the authorities reserve the right to carry out analytical tests.
Finally, and the nuance is significant, the relative tolerance for small quantities only applies to individuals without aggravating circumstances. They are valid in case of consumption and/or possession of cannabis in Belgium.
Several elements may lead the Belgian authorities to toughen the sanction provided for small quantities. They include in particular:
- The detention in presence of minors,
- Possession of cannabis in a educational establishment or a youth protection institution,
- Detention in an establishment or sports Complex,
- The detention on the public highway or in a place accessible to the public,
- La possession of equipment that can be associated with the needs of drug trafficking (scales, sachets, professional cultivation equipment, etc.),
- La cannabis marketing.
Sanctions related to the possession, consumption or marketing of cannabis in Belgium
The penalties for consumption (or possession) for personal use are relatively low:
- 15 to 25 euros fine the first time,
- 26 50 to euros in the event of a repeat offense within one year of the offence,
- 8 days to one month in prison assorted with 50 100 to euros fine in the event of a further offence.
The nature of the penalty for a Belgian who does not fall within the scope of consumption for personal use can vary according to a certain number of criteria (quantity of cannabis, presence or not of a history, marketing or not, sale “ simple” or traffic organization for example).
In the simplest and least serious cases, a dismissal is possible, i.e. the absence of sanctions. The King's Prosecutor (Belgium remains, let us remember, a kingdom) can also decide to impose conditions which will lead to the abandonment of the proceedings. A common condition is thus the weaning of the person concerned.
The higher level includes payment of a fine, usually set between 120 and 200 euros for a first offense, and between 200 and 400 euros in the event of a repeat offense within one year of the first offence. In the event of a new offense, the fine increases between 400 and 800 euros and is accompanied by a prison sentence ranging from 8 days to one month.
Organized gang trafficking and other more serious offenses can obviously result in heavier penalties.
What about CBD cannabis then?
As in the rest of the EU, CBD cannabis is perfectly legal in Belgium. As long as the plant contains less than 0,3% THC and the variety belongs to genetics authorized by European law, it is perfectly legal to buy and consume it. It is therefore useless to count on a possible legalization of cannabis in Belgium to take advantage of the soothing and relaxing effects of cannabidiol. Especially since it can also prove to be an ally of choice whenquitting cannabis THC !
Do you want to consume 100% legal CBD cannabis, in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe? The shop Weedy. Fr offers flowers, resins, CBD oils and other derivatives legally and at a fair price. If in doubt, our team will advise you on the product best suited to your needs.