As legislators begin to channel money into medical cannabis research and lay the foundation for a set of harmonised European laws, medical cannabis is slowly making its way onto the European Union agenda. The European Parliament’s health committee voted in late 2018 to approve a draft resolution regarding the medicinal use of cannabis. Now a few years later the motion is looking like it will be a reality.
The medical cannabis market in Europe
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions (EMCDDA) provided the first report on medicinal marijuana in December 2018. It provided information on the evidence for cannabis use and cannabinoids, as well as defining cannabis preparations and distinguishing between them.
The EU’s legal cannabis market is expected to reach 115.7 billion euros, or 136 billion dollars in 2028. This makes it the largest global cannabis market. The EU cannot legalize cannabis immediately due to wildy differnt regulations of the many member states. However, it can provide guidelines for each country that they can follow ito implement the EU’s vision.
The EMCDDA Report
The report is aimed at policymakers and responds to the growing interest in the topic as more European countries adopt more positive policies towards the substance.
According to the report, “Many EU countries allow or are contemplating allowing medical cannabis use in some form.” Most EU countries have legal medicinal cannabis. A few have decriminalised recretional use, but none have legalised it.
The report does note that there are many differences in approaches between countries regarding the products they allow and the regulatory frameworks they employ.
The report also discusses how the terms “medical use of cannabis and cannabinoids” can be used to refer to a variety of products and preparations. They may contain different active ingredients or use different routes of administration.
The report includes case studies from none EU countries around the world that illustrate the different approaches taken by countries to legalize medical cannabis.
Alexis Goosdeel is the director of EMCDDA. He explains that: “In most countries, the provision of cannabis and cannabinoid products and preparations for medical purposes has evolved over time, often in response to patient demand or product development.”
This report highlights the difficulties of decision-making and summarizes the many issues governments will consider when making cannabis or cannabinoids legal for medical use.
Goosdeel concludes, “This report seeks to provide an objective look at current evidence, practice, and experience in this very fast-moving field and describe the complex patchwork of approaches adopted in the EU and beyond.”
It also highlights how important it is to develop a common language that can be used to aid in evaluation and assessment. This basically means that everyone will have the same definitions of key points when regulation is finally drafted.