Cannabis law and legislation in Hungary

Medical use

Generally, it is not permitted to grow, import or sell cannabis for medical use in Hungary. 

The production, manufacturing, export, import, transfer, purchasing, sales, storage, handling, handover or use of narcotics and psychotropic substances, and related education, research and analysis, as well as having plants suitable for the production of narcotics cultivated and related education, research and analysis, may only be carried out with an activity licence issued by the National Institute for Pharmacy and Nutrition ( OGYÉI). Such a licence for medical purposes may be issued for an activity involving narcotics and psychotropic substances aimed at pharmaceutical research and development, marketing authorisation or therapeutic use of medicinal products. The application for an activity licence for medical purposes requires a licence for manufacturing or trading a specific medicinal product.

According to Hungarian law, the use of THC strains is only permitted for research or industrial purposes (unless individual authorisation is granted, as described below). Currently there is no medicinal product containing cannabis or its derivatives as an active ingredient that has been authorised for marketing in Hungary.

Medicinal products containing cannabis that have been authorised for marketing in another country may be accessed by Hungarian patients only in exceptional cases. OGYÉI may give its authorisation if it is justified by patient care interests.

Otherwise, producing, selling, purchasing, trafficking or importing cannabis containing THC for medical use are strictly prohibited by the Hungarian Criminal Code and shall be punished with imprisonment for up to 20 years depending on the scale of prohibited activity and, more importantly, the level of THC in the cannabis.

Recreational use

Producing, selling, purchasing, trafficking or importing cannabis containing THC for recreational use are all strictly prohibited by the Hungarian Criminal Code (sanctions stated above).

Industrial use

Hungarian law does not provide an exhaustive list of uses permitted for industrial cannabis; it is always subject to an individual authorisation process by the relevant authority. Nevertheless, a recent amendment to the relevant law highlights that the industrial purpose shall not mean the development or production of products that are suitable for administering a new psychoactive substance or certain psychotropic substances (such as THC) into the human body. As a rule, any industrial activity with cannabis suitable for the production of narcotic drugs can only be carried out with an activity licence.

CBD is not regarded as a controlled substance in Hungary. The specific requirements of its use depend on the type of the product, i.e. whether the product in question is a medicinal product, a food supplement, a food product or cosmetic.
Medicinal products that contain CBD may only be imported with the authorisation of OGYÉI for individual patient use (see earlier). In relation to food supplements containing CBD, a notification obligation applies to the product. Food products containing CBD are subject to a Community authorisation obligation if they qualify as novel food products, or to the authorisation process of the Hungarian National Food Chain Safety Authority (NÉBIH) if they qualify as other type of food product. Cosmetics containing CBD are announced via the Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP).

Patentability

The Hungarian Patent Act provides that inventions are not patentable if their commercial exploitation would be contrary to public morality or public order. However, exploitation does not qualify as being contrary to public morality or public order merely because it is prohibited
by law.

Under Hungarian law, a cannabis-based product is patentable as long as its planned use is not contrary to public morality or public order. The fact that the Hungarian legal regime, as a general rule, does not allow use of cannabis in Hungary, does not necessarily mean that cannabis-based products are not patentable. If the planned use is in line with the pharmaceutical regulatory and criminal laws, the invention is potentially patentable.

Latest developments

There are several recent initiatives from the political as well as from the civil sector (e.g. from the Hungarian Medical Cannabis Association) aimed at achieving full legalisation of medical cannabis, or at least the introduction to the Hungarian healthcare system of those medicinal products containing cannabis or derivatives that are already authorised for marketing and successfully used abroad. In spite of the this, Hungary did not vote in line with the common position of the EU Member States on medical cannabis at the December 2020 meeting of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) which led to a currently ongoing infringement procedure against Hungary initiated by the European Commission.

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