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Growing pot to self-medicate is not allowed, rules Swedish court

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Growing pot to self-medicate is not allowed, rules Swedish court
File photo of cannabis plants. Photo: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
12:27 CET+01:00
It is illegal to grow cannabis yourself even if it is in order to self-medicate, Sweden's top court has ruled.

Anders Thörn broke his neck in a motorcycle accident in 1994 at the age of 15 and was paralyzed from the chest down. Around ten years ago the pain from his injuries grew worse, and no medication he tried seemed to help. Instead, he began to grow cannabis in his laundry room, and then consumed the oil of the plant.

He was cleared in 2015 by the district court in Västerås, who judged that Thörn had "been in an emergency situation" having "tried everything the healthcare system has to offer".

However, the court of appeals threw out the verdict and the case was eventually remitted to Sweden's top-tier criminal court, the Supreme Court, which issued its ruling on Monday.

The court said he "was in an emergency situation" but that cultivating cannabis at home was "still not permitted". 

However, it noted that Thörn's purpose had been medical and that he had tried to grow cannabis containing minimal amounts of psychoactive substances.

The court said that taking all circumstances into account the crime therefore constituted only a minor drug offence. It fined him 5,200 kronor ($616).

"It feels good that this whole process is over. It has cost me a lot, both physically and mentally. Whatever the outcome, it's good that it's over," Thörn told broadcaster SVT.

Sweden has by and large a 'zero tolerance' approach to drugs, although calls for legalizing the drug are sometimes heard and it has become more permissive of using cannabis for medication purposes.

Thörn's situation has changed since the legal process began in 2015. Earlier this year he was granted the right to use cannabis to relieve chronic pain – one of the first such cases in Sweden.

Since that decision in February, 30 patients have applied to Sweden's Medical Products Agency for permission to use cannabis, and 12 have been granted such licences. The applications must be written by a doctor and cannot be submitted by a private individual. 

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