The latest changes to the Drug Abuse Prevention Act, which entered into force on the 25th April 2019 (Official Gazette 39/19) enacted long discussed and widely publicly debated conditions for growing and production of hemp for medical purposes.

The old version of the Drug Abuse Prevention Act (Official Gazette 80/13) and the Regulation on Conditions for Hemp Cultivation, Notification of Poppy Cultivation and Conditions for Possession and Traffic of Narcotic Drugs in Veterinary (Official Gazette 57/16) permitted cultivation of industrial hemp for the purpose of food and feed production purposes.

The Drug Abuse Prevention Act provides for the new definition of "industrial hemp" which is defined as a hemp listed in the EU Database of registered plant varieties, containing 0.2% THC or less and is not on the List of drugs, psychotropic substances and plants that can produce drugs (the List has been issued by the Ministry of health in February 2019).

The new definition of industrial hemp makes it possible to use the entire plant of industrial hemp in the construction, textile and cosmetics industry, auto industry, paper industry and biomass fuel production, unlike the situation as was before where only the seeds of the specified varieties may have been used exclusively in the food industry for the production of food and feed, whereas remaining parts of plant (e.g. stalks) had to be destroyed. The destruction of the hemp stalk, for every undertaker that was engaged in hemp cultivation business, turned out to be the loss of revenue since the usage of hemp seeds represents less than 10% usage of the plant.

The Drug Abuse Prevention Act as in force simplifies procedure for natural and legal persons aiming at becoming growers of industrial hemp. Unlike the old law under which a licence for production of industrial hemp had to be obtained from the competent ministry (Ministry of Agriculture) the new regime requires solely registration with the Registry of Industrial Hemp Growers which is kept by the Ministry of Agriculture and what is to be done prior to commencement of sowing.

The amended Drug Abuse Prevention Act for the first time ever permits growing and production of medical hemp though provides strict requirements under which a legal person may grow and produce medical hemp. Under the Drug Abuse Prevention Act growing of medical hemp may be performed only by those legal persons who have obtained the license for production of drugs in compliance with the Drugs Act to be issued by the Drugs Agency and based on the license for growing of medical hemp of the Ministry of Health. On the other side production of medical hemp may be performed by legal persons who have previously obtained the license for production of drugs in compliance with the Drugs Act and based on the license for production of medical hemp to be issued by the Drugs Agency.

The Drug Abuse Prevention Act does not regulate in details the procedure for obtaining licenses in respect of growing and producing hemp for medical purposes what will be regulated by special regulations which are expected to be adopted within the short timeframe.