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Greece issues first medical cannabis prescriptions, 7 years after legalization

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Greece has reached an important milestone by officially making cannabis for medicinal purposes accessible to patients in pharmacies. The first prescriptions for medicinal cannabis put an end to a long struggle, which had lasted for seven years, since the country legalized medicinal cannabis in 2017. The possibility of prescribing cannabis to Greek patients came into force on February 19th and marks the change in the country's healthcare landscape, with the possibility of legally using cannabinoids in various pathologies. But not all doctors can prescribe it.

After Greece legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2017, the country embarked on a long journey to make this therapeutic option easily accessible to its citizens. However, this effort was not without challenges, as bureaucratic obstacles and regulatory complexities ended up prolonging the process for seven years.

Access to treatment: Responding to patients’ needs

With the availability of cannabis for medicinal purposes, Greek patients now have access to a range of treatment options for various illnesses, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and combination therapy for HIV or hepatitis C.
  • Chronic pain management.
  • Spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.
  • Appetite stimulation in palliative care.

Medical specialists, including anesthetists, neurologists and specialists in oncological diseases, infectious diseases and rheumatology, were authorized to prescribe cannabis for medicinal purposes. This authorization aims to ensure that patients receive personalized care tailored to their specific medical needs.

The use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in Greece is not reimbursed, meaning that the total costs are borne by patients. Currently, only one product (a balanced CBD/THC preparation, supplied by Tikun Olam Europe), is available in Greek pharmacies. However, it is expected that other versions with higher levels of THC will soon enter the market to satisfy the diverse needs of patients.

Patients fight for better access to cannabis

Anna Paga, one of the first medical cannabis patients in Greece, expressed her gratitude and relief, highlighting the newfound freedom of being able to obtain treatments through legal channels, and no longer having to resort to traditional illicit market channels. Your a testimony highlights the transformative impact of the legalization of medical cannabis on the lives of patients.

Non-profit organizations such as Mamaka (Mothers of Cannabis) have been fundamental in defending patients' rights and wider access to medicinal cannabis. Their tireless efforts have paved the way for ongoing discussions about import laws, pediatric use, reimbursement policies, and home cultivation rights. CannaReporter spoke with Jacqueline Poitras, founder of Mamaka, and we will publish the interview soon. Jackie, as she is known in cannabis circles, and who has a daughter with epilepsy, will be present, for the first time, at the next session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), which takes place from March 14th to 22nd 2024, in Vienna, Austria, representing the IACM Patient Council.

A promising future: Greece's role in the global market

With the establishment of Greece's first medical cannabis production facility by Tikun Olam Europe, the country is poised to emerge as a key player in the global medical cannabis market. This significant investment underlines Greece's potential to contribute significantly to the research, production and distribution of medicinal cannabis.

The start of issuing cannabis prescriptions for medicinal purposes in Greece represents a crucial moment in its healthcare journey. By prioritizing patient access, empowering healthcare professionals and promoting innovation, Greece is laying the foundations for a more inclusive and comprehensive healthcare system, but like Portugal, with so few pharmacy options available, it has still a long way to go.

 

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[Disclaimer: Please note that this text was originally written in Portuguese and is translated into English and other languages ​​using an automatic translator. Some words may differ from the original and typos or errors may occur in other languages.]

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