On 5 June, EMCDDA released a publication about cannabis laws and recent changes within the European Union including medicinal cannabis. The medical use of cannabis gained interest, as people seek alternative treatments for various health issues. The European medical cannabis market is evolving and that is why EMCDDA decided to prepare an overview.
International scope for medical cannabis
International law permits the use of drugs for therapeutic and research purposes. This includes cannabis or products produced from cannabis, which have medical use for treating specific diseases. Thus, the UN conventions underline the narrow range of pharmaceuticals used for medical and scientific reasons that are subject to international control.
The phrase “medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids” is present broadly in public discussion, including a range of preparations and products. Of course, from a regulatory point of view, it is crucial to understand the differences between these phrases. These products might include different active ingredients and can be given through various routes.
Marketing authorization for cannabis medicinal products in the European Union
The EU has the ability to authorise the marketing of cannabis-derived therapeutic products. This approval involves a thorough assessment of the product’s safety, effectiveness, and quality, which includes clinical trials and compliance with pharmaceutical regulations. On the EU market, a number of medications made from cannabis are already available.
However, some EU member states may, in extreme cases, grant patients access to cannabis-derived therapeutic treatments in the lack of marketing approval. In accordance with EU pharmaceutical law, this often involves the prescription of particular medicines to specific patients by medical specialists.
It’s interesting to note that the European Parliament has advocated for additional research into cannabis’s potential medical benefits. The EU highlighted the significance of evidence-based knowledge.
Approved medical cannabis products
We can provide some examples of products containing cannabis and cannabinoids for medical or therapeutic use. The first option is Epidyolex, a pure oral CBD solution made from plants. There is also Sativex, an oromucosal spray that contains nabiximols with approximately equal amounts of CBD and THC. These are some of the cannabis-derived medicines that have received widespread approval in Europe. Other examples can be Marinol and Syndros containing dronabinol or Cesamet and Canemes with nabilone. These products work for particular conditions and have received marketing approval.
Of course, the use of cannabis products for medical purposes is permitted through special access programs that have been put in place by certain EU member states. These programs frequently have strict guidelines. The national health insurance systems’ reimbursement practices have an impact on how much access patients have.
According to recent changes, we can expect more countries being open in medical cannabis products. Moreover, people’s attitudes towards medicinal cannabis changes, giving Belgium as an example. There are numerous countries which see medical cannabis as a beneficial source for the economy, including UK and Czech Republic.