Towards the legalization of medical cannabis?
What is medical cannabis ?
Medical cannabis uses chemicals from the cannabis plant to treat diseases or conditions. The most common use for medical cannabis is pain control.
The cannabis plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Each one has a different effect on the body. Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main chemicals used in medicines. It’s basically the same product as recreational marijuana, but it’s taken for medical purposes.
THC is illegal in most European countries but on the other hand, CBD is legal, it is understandable that clear rules need to be set.
When we talk about cannabis, the link has quickly been made with the psychotropic effects of the THC in cannabis. But it is important that the negative perception on cannabis will change. And therefore, citizens need to be educated on the use of medical cannabis, CBD related products and their positive benefits who are still largely unknown and still suffers today from many prejudices.
Although the World Health Organization has officially recommended, in February this year, that the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a controlled substance, there are no EU-wide rules now for either the medical or recreational use of cannabis.
A European policy: an objective for the new European Parliament?
Obviously, we are in favor of a European legislation of medical cannabis who will ensure as well that CBD is available and free to distribute and to use everywhere in Europe.
An agreement on European level is needed, to have once and for all a clear understanding everywhere.
Coming to an agreement for the regulation of medical cannabis is complex. At European level, the European Medicines Agency are responsible for the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety of the medical cannabis.
Even if legalization seems far from being on the agenda for all politics, the new constructed European Parliament may perhaps be the opportunity to advance this bigger question.
The medical use of cannabis or cannabinoids is legal in several European countries.
Medical Cannabis, for therapeutic use, is already authorized in 21 European countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands or Italy, but also in 33 American states, Canada, Uruguay, Lesotho (the only one in Africa) or Australia.
The precursors for medical cannabis are Canada, The Netherlands and Israel
Since 2002, Canadians with certain serious or incurable diseases, such as AIDS and cancer, could be licensed to smoke marijuana. And after a positive public opinion, Canada went further in October 2018 and legalized as well completely recreational cannabis.
Besides the fact that since 1976, sales in coffee shops, possession and consumption, of less than five grams, was tolerated, in 2003, The Netherlands was the first European country who produced cannabis for medical use designated for people with serious diseases prescribed by their doctor.
In Israel, cultivation has been legalized since 2012. Since last January, even export of the medical cannabis has been authorized
But also other countries in the world have legalized therapeutic cannabis.
33 states in the United States now allow medical cannabis.
Australia, legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2016, even farms have been legally cultivating medicinal cannabis since 2017. Australia authorized exports in early 2018 to extend the business for its domestic producers.
At the end of 2018, besides their very strict drugs laws, Thailand became the first country in Southeast Asia to legalize cannabis cultivation for medical purposes.
Several other Latin American countries have legalized cannabis for medical reasons: Chile in 2015, Colombia in 2016 and Argentina, Mexico and Peru in 2017.
Uruguay not only legalized medical use, but also authorized the production, distribution and consumption of recreational cannabis since December 2013.
For more information on medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids, please consult the report of the European Monitoring Centre For Drugs And Drugs Addiction