While the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal in Luxembourg, the use of medical marijuana is now legal — but only for a few patients.
Luxembourg allowed the sales of Sativex for multiple sclerosis patients back in 2012. It took the government until the end of 2017, however, to announce plans for a pilot project, and roughly seven more months for the nation’s Chamber of Deputies to agree to a bill legalizing medical marijuana — barely.
The new law, passed June 28, makes the use of medical marijuana legal for patients with chronic pain, nausea as a result of chemotherapy, or multiple sclerosis causing muscle spasms.
Everyone else — like epilepsy patients, for example — will have to wait.
Even if patients are legally allowed use medical marijuana, getting their hands on it might prove difficult. The drug will only be available at a few Luxembourg hospital pharmacies, which will likely make it difficult for some patients to acquire their medicine — especially if they are too sick to travel far. In order to supply these pharmacies, hospitals in will order cannabis from Canada.
Dr. Jean Colombera, who was investigated for allegedly prescribing cannabis-based drugs in Luxembourg in 2012, and who supports wider legalization of medical marijuana in the country, says the current law is too conservative.
“I have the impression it will only be used for people whose illnesses are too advanced… For me it should be used well before they reach this stage,” he told Delano. “Cannabis medicines can be used to treat a far larger number of illnesses…for example, if you’ve problems sleeping or depression or pain.”
The doctor is correct: Many other patients could, indeed, benefit from medical cannabis. And thankfully for them, the law will be reviewed in two years, at which point other health conditions might be added to the list.
Elsewhere in Europe
While frustrating, Luxembourg’s slow pace toward legalization mirrors the rest of Europe.
The Netherlands and Switzerland have legalized medical cannabis, and make it easy for patients to get their medicine, but France only allows a few patients to use Marinol, and raw forms of marijuana are strictly prohibited.
Other countries, like Romania, authorize marijuana for medical purposes, but patients can run into a few obstacles in getting their drugs — likely because researchers and entrepreneurs aren’t interested in serving them.
Bulgaria, Slovakia, and the Baltic countries don’t allow any form of medical cannabis, whether it be in raw form or a synthetic substitute.
Stay tuned to the Sugar Leaf for updates.