Luxembourg lawmakers have unanimously supported a bill to legalise medical cannabis.
The law, passed on June 28, allows cannabis to be prescribed and used for patients who suffer from chronic pain, nausea relating to chemotherapy, or muscle spasm resulting from multiple sclerosis. The original draft of the bill stated that only specialists could prescribe the drug, but the final version passed allows any general practitioner to prescribe cannabis if they have undertaken relevant training.
Health Minister Lydia Mutsch praised the legislative support for the bill. "I am pleased that the House has agreed with the bill to legalise access to cannabis for medical purposes”, she said. “The medical use of cannabis is an important step in our efforts to reduce the pain and suffering of some patients, where usual treatments do not allow it."
Medical cannabis will be imported from Canada as oils or capsules, and only available on prescription from hospital pharmacies, according to the Luxembourg Times.
The law has faced some criticism for being too restrictive. Some legislators are concerned that only four hospital pharmacies in the country will provide access, meaning that people living in more rural areas may find it difficult to acquire their medicine.
Additionally, some are concerned that the new law will not permit many patients who need the drug to have it prescribed.
Dr Jean Colombera, a physician and current member of Luxembourg's Chamber of Deputies, told Delano magazine that he has “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.”
“Cannabis medicines can be used to treat a far larger number of illnesses…for example if you’ve problems sleeping or depression or pain,” he added.
Several other EU countries have changed their approach to medical cannabis recently. The Portuguese parliament approved medical cannabis regulation earlier this month, legislators in Greece did so in March, and Germany legalised the drug for medical purposes in early 2017.
For an overview of medical cannabis access in the EU, take a look at our interactive map: