A patient advocate group has given its seal of approval to the new legislation on medical cannabis, which regulates a number of issues including the use of medicinal marijuana.
The Cyprus Federation Of Patients Associations and Friends, an umbrella organisation for patients groups, has issued a statement thanking members of the House as well as former health minister George Pamboridis, who championed the legislation while he was in office.
“This new legislation coming into law is ointment to many patients, as they will be able to have access to medicinal cannabis with a doctor’s prescription,” the group said.
While medical cannabis was not illegal previously, medicinal use of marijuana was unregulated and only the health minister could make exceptions
While medical cannabis was not illegal previously, medicinal use of marijuana was unregulated. As a result, patients had to resort to writing letters to the health minister in order to get help and avoid troubles with the law.
Following a long and protracted debate behind the scenes, the law passed last week with the final draft granting exclusive licences to three producers for the first 15 years. Initial drafts started with discussions on only one or two licences, while tough debate on financial aspects finally settled at having a producer fee set at €500,000 and €30,000 annual registration fees.
Legislation to legalise cannabis for medicinal had been moving forward in many countries, including Cyprus. But last year the bill was stuck in the House health committee with a number of local MPs citing fear that marijuana was linked to crime. Police also feared that if the bill passed the House, it would require cops to monitor production and open many fronts that would put pressure on law enforcement authorities.
Media reports of horrific crimes, including a double murder in Strovolos last April, were also cited in the overall discussion. Stories drew links between murders and the use of cannabis, prompting MP’s to request a postponement of medicinal marijuana legislation.
Medical doctor's prescription required
Based on the provisions of the new law, which passed last Friday with 34 votes in favour and 18 against, only medical doctors are allowed to prescribe cannabis for medical use.
Medicinal cannabis can be prescribed by medical doctors to patients suffering from chronic conditions associated with, among others, cancer, HIV, degenerative diseases of the motor system, rheumatopathy, neuropathy and glaucoma. It can also be given to patients suffering from Tourette's syndrome and Crohn's disease.