Medical cannabis removed from EU short-term agenda

There is no European plan to address in the short-term the regulatory barriers for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the Council presidency of the EU and the European Commission have confirmed to EURACTIV.

Contacted by this website, a diplomatic source said that although therapeutical cannabis is certainly an important topic, at the moment no work is planned on this dossier during the German EU presidency, which runs until the end of the year.

Expectations to address medicinal cannabis at the EU level were high before the start of Berlin’s presidency, as Germany is currently the most-advanced European market for hemp products for therapeutic purposes.

After having passed a reform of the country’s drugs law in 2017, Germany paved the way for other EU countries to develop policies for granting patients easier access to medical marijuana.

The Czech Republic, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are among the other member states which have established a specific access scheme for cannabis preparations for the treatment of a narrow range of medical conditions.

Before the law was changed, only 1,000 patients were prescribed with medical cannabis. In 2018, after the law was passed, doctors issued approximately 142,000 prescriptions for therapeutical marijuana only.

In 2017, the German government also created a new body within the German Medicines Agency (BfArM) tasked with regulating the nascent domestic industry and issuing licenses for the import of medical cannabis.

According to the main stakeholders in the field, the German model has been considered a reference for high-quality standards at the EU level and best practices in terms of removing barriers on the free circulation of medical cannabis products.

In a recent interview with EURACTIV, Sita Schubert, secretary-general of the European Medicinal Cannabis Association (EUMCA), suggested replicating Germany’s regulatory approach to medical cannabis across Europe.

For these reasons, the German presidency appeared as an opportunity to launch a debate on an EU-wide framework on medical marijuana, also considering that health issues were listed among the top priorities for the semester.

However, the German government expectedly decided to focus more on COVID-19 and on the creation of a European Health Data Space.

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