By parliamentary majority and with the only abstention from the CDS-PP; Portugal legalizes medicinal cannabis. But such legalization excludes self-cultivation

Portugal has just taken another significant step in the regulation of cannabis. Not only implemented in 2001 a system to regulate drugs based on treatment and prevention, instead of sanction and criminalization, but just approved last Friday the regulation of the medicinal use of cannabis. The law, presented by the Left bloc, was approved in first reading by all the parliamentary groups. Except for the abstention of the rightist CDS-PP.

Unfortunately, and despite the rational advances in the matter, our Portuguese neighbor remains very inflexible regarding the cannabis self-cultivation, an aspect that had to be removed from the bill for final approval by a parliamentary majority. In this sense Portugal remains one of the few European countries that criminalizes the possession of seeds and prohibits the sale of equipment for the cultivation of cannabis. This is a contradictory attitude and incompatible with its policy of non-criminalization, by denying consumers the possibility of accessing to its own substance, having to resort to the black market.

The approved regulation also stipulates that patients can only resort to this substance in case other conventional treatments fail. But always under a special medical prescription. The medicine can be dispensed in pharmacies in the form of different preparations, from the dehydrated flower to oils.

The legalization of medicinal cannabis in Portugal poses many problems

Despite the approval, Cannabis Associations like Cannativa consider it only a partial success and expose a series of problems to which the new law does not give solution.

For example, the law only provides for medical prescription in the event that conventional treatments fail, without first questioning the possibility that a cannabis-based treatment is specifically more effective for a patient’s condition. In this sense, the association also draws attention to the fact that the regulatory criteria are those that meet the medical criteria to establish the appropriateness of a treatment, forcing patients to undergo treatments that may be inconvenient or contraindicated entry for ailments. Specific, only because the law states that they must fail first in order to have legitimate access to cannabis. Similarly, Cannativa appeals to the urgency of clarifying the legal status of CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and with multiple therapeutic properties that could benefit patients immediately.

Cannativa also considers that the lack of training of health professionals will make it difficult for patients to access cannabis. Therefore the association has promoted the realization of Lisbon Medical Cannabis. It is the First International Conference on medicinal cannabis in Portugal, which will take place in Lisbon on November 9 and 10. This event includes accredited training for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and veterinarians .