The recently established lobby group is taking its first steps in the Brussels bubble, advocating for an EU-wide regulatory framework on medical marijuana.

While the market for medical cannabis is already well developed in some EU member states, only EU-wide standards can ensure patients have the same across Europe.

Different legislation across EU countries on prescribing cannabis-based medicines can hinder patients’ access to their treatment when they travel abroad, EUMCA said.

“Our main priority is informing national and EU institutions about the opportunity that this treatment is offering,” said Sita Schubert, secretary general of EUMCA.

Lack of clinical trials is a major reason why doctors are cautious about the drug. But according to Schubert, health actors and lawmakers are also often simply not familiar with medical marijuana.

“The use of cannabis for medical purposes was forbidden for so many years due to strong national laws on narcotics that there was no opportunity of gaining experience with cannabis,” she told EURACTIV.

MEP: EU framework on medical cannabis to give ‘peace of mind’ to patients

A strong EU regulatory framework on medical cannabis is needed to provide investors with stability but also to give peace of mind to patients struggling with fragmented legislation among member states, socialist MEP Miriam Dalli said.

German model

But Schubert believes the positive example of Germany can change perceptions when discussing an EU regulatory framework for medical cannabis.

According to her, the German regulatory approach allowed developing a quality and safe market for cannabis-based medical products in the country.

In January 2017, the German Parliament passed a reform of the country’s drug law, allowing easier access to cannabis products for therapeutic purposes.

Before the law was changed, only 1,000 patients were prescribed with medical cannabis. In 2018, after the law was passed, doctors issued approximately 142,000 prescriptions for medical marijuana only.

The national cannabis association Deutscher Hanfverband (DHV) estimates that there are 50-60,000 health insurance patients prescribed with medical marijuana, which makes Germany the third-largest market for these products outside North America.

Following Germany’s example, a number of other European countries developed policies granting patients easier access to medical cannabis.

The Czech Republic, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are among the other member states which have established a specific access scheme for cannabis preparations for the treatment of a narrow range of medical conditions.

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