EU Parliament Vote Supports Medical Cannabis

The Parliament of the European Union is calling for a formal EU policy for the manufacture and use of medical cannabis and targeted funding for scientific research.

A number of EU states have legalised the use of certain forms of cannabis or cannabinoids for medical purposes and others are in the process of debating similar changes to their legislation.

However, the rules on which products are allowed and their permitted usage varies widely from state to state and at present no EU country authorises the smoking or home-growing of cannabis for medical purposes. 

Since the World Health Organisation officially recommended that the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) should not be classified as a controlled substance, EU policy-makers have debated changes to the union’s laws in the fields of both medical and recreational cannabis use.

On 13 February 2019, members of the EU Parliament (MEPs), adopted a resolution on the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. MEPs noted that there is a growing base of research which shows that cannabis and cannabinoids may have therapeutic effects in stimulating appetite (for weight loss linked to AIDs) and in alleviating the symptoms of, for example, mental disorders or epilepsy, asthma, cancer and Alzheimer’s. However, the members further noted that more research is needed.

While non-binding, in the resolution the EU Parliament proposed that a legal definition of medicinal cannabis is codified to clearly distinguish it from other uses. The resolution also states that research and innovation on medicinal cannabis should be boosted and sufficiently funded, while also opining that proven effective cannabis-based medication should be covered by health insurance schemes.

The MEPs proposed that a clear and stable legal framework would improve the quality of available medicinal cannabis and the accuracy of its labelling, ensuring patients would be better informed about safe use, with particular precautions set-out for young people and pregnant women.

It is important to note that as a non-binding resolution of the EU Parliament, this action by the MEPs does not actually have the effect of changing any laws. It is instead intended to act as a catalyst to encourage member states to focus on the issues with a view to agreeing a framework for future legislation which will ultimately be transposed into EU Law, and ultimately filtered down into the legislation of the member states.