Greece has become the sixth EU country to legalize medical marijuana. This has been a six-year process after the government stated they would be preparing a bill that would decriminalize the use of drugs in August 2011, but the legislation still had not changed, until now.
The History of Cannabis in Greece:
In 1890, Greece outlawed the production and usage of hashish, but the laws were largely ineffective. Cannabis use rose following World War I, as Greek soldiers and refugees from now-Turkish Asia Minor arrived in mainland Greece, bringing the cannabis lifestyle with them. This upsurge faded after World War II due to the substantial death and disorder of the German occupation.
In 2016, the Greek government formed a working group to assess the possibilities of medical cannabis with a report. The Working Group established itself for the following main reasons:
- To evaluate the current experience
- To study the existing legislative framework and
- To formulate evidence-based proposals concerning the regulatory framework and the necessary legislative changes to allow medical use of preparations containing cannabinoids
The official report was delivered to Health Minister, Mr. Xanthos and published on February 22, 2017.
In its’ report, the Working Group states:
“The pharmacological properties of cannabis either in the form of substances active in the plant or the form of extracts or parts of the plant are acceptable” and considers “necessary the direct access of patients to these products also in Greece.”
Moreover, the Working Group highlighted that the existing legal framework allows the production and distribution of cannabis for medical use, by providing for this procedure state monopoly, giving a certain power to the Minister of Health and consultative role to the National Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
Last week, the Greek Prime Minister announced that a joint ministerial decision regarding the legality of the use of medical cannabis had been finalized. The decision was published in the Government Gazette and states the medical use of marijuana is from now on legal in Greece with a prescription. With the announcement, the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras commented ″our country is turning a page on its’ history since Greece is now included in the countries where the prescription of medical cannabis is legal for patients who are in need of it.”
As well as moving cannabis to a medical status to be prescribed by doctors, the government is also reclassifying cannabis from a “Schedule I,” to a “Schedule II” substance which is known to have medicinal value. Cannabis is typically prescribed for conditions like muscle spasms, chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy, and cancer.
Details on how the drug will be cultivated and distributed are yet to be established by Mr. Tsipras’ left-wing party. Greece will soon also be able to import cannabis-based medicines.
This is a great starting point for Greece. Which has us wondering if Greece will go even further and allow full-scale cannabis legalization, for recreational use as well as medical?
Did you know?
Growing less potent cannabis (less than 0.2% THC) has been legal in Greece for a while now, but patients are unable to medicate on that legal cannabis, as it isn’t robust enough to work efficiently.
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