So long as they don’t carry buds, cannabis plants are legal in Austria. Although cannabis as a recreational drug is as illegal as in most other countries, you can easily purchase White Widdow, Jack Herer, or Lemon Haze “cuttings” in Vienna and many other Austrian cities. The Austrian Narcotic Drugs Act only punishes cannabis cultivation for the purpose of drug production — a very significant disticntion.
The the 40-year-old drug law does not distinguish between flowering and non-flowering plants, but merely defines for which purpose cannabis is illegal. Therefore, those who cultivate non-flowering plants are acting in compliance with the law. The producers of the cuttings look accurately to ensure that their mother plants do not develop the slightest sign of it’s gender or any buds.
In the mid-1990s, the pioneers of the first Viennese growshop, “Was Denn? (What’s Up?)”, discovered the loophole in Austria’s Narcotics Act and started to grow and sell cannabis cuttings. The Austrian authorities did not want to know anything about legal cannabis plants in those days. Around the turn of the millennium, shops opened, were closed by the police, and reopened in a repeating process.
Eventually, shops complained about the confiscation of their plants on the basis of the Narcotic Drug Law and repeatedly won court cases. Since 2006, clone-shops have been able to produce in the liberal Vienna and surrounding area without being harassed; in other parts of the region, clone shops have been widely rejected by local authorities.
But since this acquittal for Vienna’s largest Cannabis farmer, Austria is booming with new cannabis shops sprouting like mushrooms all over the country. In the border regions to the Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, the new and legal business model is very popular.
Cannabis exports remain prohibited despite the EU’s internal market, but border controls are only provided in exceptional cases in the Schengen area, which also includes non-EU member Switzerland. Although the traders regularly remind German and Italian customers of the export ban, the small Alps Republic has become the No.1 export nation of cannabis genetics. Of course, in addition to cuttings, cannabis seeds are legal and even easier to transport than clones to Germany or Switzerland, where even seeds are unlawful.
A cuttle is not more expensive than a seed.
Since the price for a cutting of a well-selected strain is usually below the cost of a seed, most customers in Austria are counting on the faster method of asexually propagated cuttings. A cuttle costs between five and ten dollars, depending on the stage of development and the medium used — a package of 10 feminized seeds costs between 50 and 150 dollars. Regular, non-feminized seeds are becoming increasingly rare; they typically cost twice as much as female seeds..
In addition to a handful of genuine wholesale traders, there are also numerous smaller suppliers who specialize in niches like organic cuttings or the cultivation of seedlings from feminized seeds. At the time of purchase, the trader will inform his customer not to illuminate the plant less than 18 hours, because they could otherwise bloom and become illegal.
Officially, Jack Flash or O.G.Kush are offered as an ornamental plant or for aromatherapy. Producers must ensure that their plants do not show the smallest sign of a developing bud. Even one tiny white hair could be regarded as evidence of an attempt to produce addictive drugs. If a customer ignores this advice and illuminates the plants for 12 hours, the retailer is relieved of responsibility.
Hanf & Hanf Clones
One of Vienna’s largest and oldest clone producers is Hanf & Hanf in the Lasallestreet next to Vieanna’s famous “Prater.” From 50 meters in front of the shop, one can’t avoid the smell of freshly cut mother plants, which are used as a basis for breeding. Owner Drazen offers Bubble Gum, Cheese, Shiva Skunk, Herijuana, and White Satin clones in organic, rockwool- or Coco- substrate. Apart from cuttings, most Viennese shops now offer seedlings from feminized or even feminized automatic varieties. In addition, there are LED cuttings with particularly short internodes, outdoor and Sea-of-Green suitable clones as well as the complete box with 16 seedlings for 800 dollars. The consultation is always about “beautiful flowers,” which are cherished and cultivated in the production hall next to the shop by more than 20 gardeners on several hundred square meters. Here is a true sea of mothers, pre-breeding, rooting- and fogging-rooms on two floors. All in all, Hanf & Hanf offers more than 50 carefully selected varieties of Europe’s leading seedbanks. On “Green Friday,” which takes place once a month, all strains are offered at a special price. The founder of Hanf & Hanf regularly has to curb the flow of visitors by locking the door.
The “Hemp-Embassy” presents potent flowers
Last year, the “Hempembassy Association” dared to exhibit potent cannabis plants and buds in their rooms. The flowering cannabis plants are protected against unauthorized access and not grown with the intention of producing illegal drugs, but to inform visitors about the forbidden plant. The intention “not to produce drugs” makes it all legal.
The finished plants are brought to the Simmering waste incineration and destroyed under notarized supervision. In order to spread and shape the political message transparently, the entire flowering process is documented, filmed, and put online by the Hemp Embassy staff. Nobody is supposed to come up with the idea that a single bud grown here is being harvested or sold. The Hemp Embassy in the Esterhazygasse 34 shows eight large displays with clearly visible flowering plants. The plants are, on average, 1.20 m high, and show the charms of their buds in the various stages, separated from the visitors by safety glass. Every display has a string to pull that releases the specific smell of the strain variety through a few tiny holes in the glass.
“The real ambassador is the plant itself. We are not a ‘huray-legalize movement,’ but try to influence the discussion in a rational way,” embassy-initiator Stivi Wolyniec explained.
But despite the liberal clone regulations, Cannabis as a recreational drug or a medicine is strictly forbidden. Unlike in the Netherlands, Italy or Germany, there is not even a medical cannabis program deserving of the name. In the pharmacies, only Dronabinol (Marinol) and Sativex are available. This is exists in the face of the enormous sales and the related tax revenues for Austria.
Hemp Embassy Vienna-Hanfmuseum Wien
Open: Monday – Saturday 12:00 bis 8 pm
Metro: U3 Zieglergasse
Admission is free