In October, medical cannabis in Lithuania was legalized by the country’s Parliament. While it will not go into effect until May of 2019, it will allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to treat a number of conditions. The legislation is expected to be officially signed into law by the country’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite.
Medicine Man Technologies has been watching the progress of this bill since November of 2017 when it was introduced by Lithuanian MP, Mykolas Majauskas. A member of the country’s conservative party, Homeland Union, Majauskas emphasized the need to change the laws in order to help patients forced to use, “morphine, opioid-based medicines, on a daily basis, when they can take cannabis medicines that are significantly less harmful [instead].”
To move the bill forward, lawmakers first amended the country’s laws on Pharmacy and Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Previously, cannabis was listed in the same category as highly addictive drugs such as heroin, opium, MDMA, cocaine and morphine. Possession of a small quantity came with a harsh penalty of up to 2 years in prison and growing for personal use could be punished with 5 years.
As the legislation gained momentum and moved through its phases, Majauskas was asked about what he predicted for medical cannabis in Lithuania. He stated, “In the longer term, I am confident we will be growing cannabis, producing food supplements, conducting clinical research, and making the best possible medicine for our patients. For the time being, we expect to import registered pharmaceuticals from other EU countries, just as many other countries do.”
While May 2019 is a long way out and changes to the law are certainly possible, here’s what we know at this point. All cannabis-based medications will need to be registered with Lithuania’s National Medicine Control Agency and their efficacy backed by scientific research. The agency will also be responsible for granting licenses to sellers and distributing permits for clinical trials.
Doctors may issue medical cannabis prescriptions for patients who have cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), severe or rare forms of epilepsy, or autoimmune diseases. Recreational use will remain illegal.
Medicine Man Technologies will continue to monitor medical cannabis in Lithuania in hopes that the current launch date will be moved up and the program expanded to include more conditions. For now, we’re excited to see this small country adopt a progressive stance in providing compassionate care.
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