Tag: Europe

High-CBD Cannabis Cigarettes Coming to Swiss Supermarkets

Shoppers in Switzerland will soon be able to purchase cannabis cigarettes alongside their bread and cheese. The major Swiss supermarket chain Coop has announced that it will sell what’s being billed as the world’s first hemp cigarette.

The cigarettes are so low in THC that they’re legal under Swiss law, according to the company Heimat, which manufactures the cigarettes. While many EU countries cap allowable THC at 0.2%, Swiss law has a higher limit: 1%.

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The cigarettes will indeed deliver a burst of cannabinoids, just not psychoactive ones. Heimat says the smokes will contain 20% CBD. So even though the cannabis cigarettes won’t produce a noticeable high, the amount of CBD means they could offer relief from pain, inflammation, depression and anxiety, epilepsy, or other ailments.

According to the English-language Swiss news outlet The Local, a Coop spokesman said the supermarket already sells other hemp products, like tea, beer, and oil, and are in “high demand.”

Manufacturer Heimat, which is based out of the Swiss city of St. Gallen, has been producing tobacco cigarettes since last year. Only recently did the company turn its attention towards making cigarettes using hemp.

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The cigarettes are expected to retail for 19.90 Swiss francs (around US$20.61) per pack and will be available for purchase on the company’s website and through various outlets across the country, including Coop supermarkets.

CBD products, such as oil, are already experiencing a boom in the country, as the annual sales of legal cannabis is around 100 million Swiss francs (US$103.6 million).

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A promotional video and more information are available (in German) on the product website.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Greece Will Legalize Medical Cannabis

Last week, shortly after Catalonia legalized cannabis and just before the launch of Nevada’s adult-use market, the medical cannabis community in Europe welcomed another member: Greece.

At a press conference June 30, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Health Minister Andreas Xanthos announced the change to the country’s Law on Control of Drugs. Tsipras said the nation is “turning its page.”

“Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” he said, according to the Greek Government Gazette. The nation joins six other European Union countries—the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Germany—that have legalized the drug for medical use.

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While Tsipras’s left-wing Syriza party has yet to define how cannabis would be grown or distributed under the proposal, the prime minister said cannabis would be downgraded from Table A to Table B under Greece’s regulatory structure. The move is akin to moving cannabis from a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States to Schedule II, and it recognizes the plant’s medical value in treating certain conditions.

The changes would also allow Greece to import cannabis from other medical marijuana growers, such as Canada’s licensed producers.

Greece’s Ministry of Health has identified chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, some eating disorders, and a number of other conditions as potentially legal to treat with cannabis. Back in April 2017, the ministry said it was preparing measures to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis.

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Early indications are that the country will allow only cannabis edibles or extracts rather than dried flower, which is often consumed by smoking.

The legalization announcement is the latest in Greece’s slow rejection of prohibition, which has been the law of the land for decades. Recent years have seen the legalization and slow reintroduction of hemp—cannabis with less than 0.2% THC, per Greek law—as well as more organized advocacy efforts.

Friday’s change, however, was relatively unexpected, largely seen as the result of the radical-left party Syriza’s rise to power in 2015, in the wake of Greek’s economic crisis.

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Kostas Skliamis, a Greek-born PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam, and Leafly News Editor Ben Adlin contributed to this report.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Catalonia OKs Cannabis Legalization, but Will Spain Let It Fly?

After a petition drive that gathered 67,500 signatures, the autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia has legalized the cultivation, consumption, and distribution of cannabis. It’s now a question of whether Spain’s federal government will challenge the plan.

The region is already home to pseudo-legal cannabis clubs. The government’s move legalizes them fully and imposes a set new regulations, limiting sales to members aged 18 or older and capping an individual cannabis club’s production of dried flower to 150 kilograms per year.

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Advocates triggered government debate on the topic by submitting the signed petition. The ensuing discussion drew comments from more than 30 cannabis experts, including psychologists, sociologists, and pharmacologists. Ultimately 118 of Catalonia’s 127 ministers voted in favor of legalizing and regulating  cannabis clubs, according to the Independent.

“The law we will approve is very advanced and gives a very clear message,” Alba Verges, chair of the parliamentary health commission, told HuffPost Spain. “It’s time for a paradigm shift when it comes to legislating drugs.”

While the vote to legalize and regulate cannabis is a noteworthy win for advocates, it may also be short-lived. Spain’s federal government could challenge the legalization in court, potentially overturning it. Last year the country’s highest court overturned Catalonia’s 2013 ban on bullfighting after Madrid’s ruling political party said the move threatened artistic freedom and cultural heritage.

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The independence movement in Catalonia, however, is gaining ground. In early June, the Catalan government announced that it would hold an independence referendum on Oct. 1.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

France Will Soon Replace Marijuana Arrests With Fines Nationwide

French President Emmanuel Macron

PARIS — The government of newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron announced intentions to soon replace marijuana arrests with fines nationwide.

Police in France will soon issue a simple ticket for the use and possession of marijuana.  Offenders will no longer face possible prison time or court convictions.

France’s Minster of the Interior Gérard Collomb said Wednesday the newly implemented government wants to implement nation wide cannabis policy, a campaign promise of Macron, within the next three to four months.

The move to a ticket-only offense is supported by the UNSA Police union, who have long pushed for the change in policy.  In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the union called the current process of arrest and prosecution cumbersome and time-consuming, noting that criminalizing marijuana possession was not effective in combating drug trafficking.

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Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Dutch Lawmakers Extend Tolerance to Cannabis Cultivation

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favor of tolerating the cultivation of cannabis, a move that could bring to an end a key paradox of the relaxed Dutch policy on marijuana and hashish.

Buying small amounts of cannabis at so-called coffeeshops has long been tolerated in the Netherlands, but cultivating and selling the drug to the coffeeshops themselves has remained illegal.

That hasn’t stopped coffeeshops flourishing since liberalization of drug laws in the 1970s, and becoming a major tourist draw card, particularly in Amsterdam, where tourists often visit the cafes to light up a joint.

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A narrow majority in the lower house of the Dutch Parliament voted in favor of the new law that would extend tolerance to growers as well as smokers. However, the bill still has to be approved in the upper house, known as the First Chamber, where it is not clear if it can find a majority.

If the votes in the upper house go along the same party lines as in the lower house, the bill would be rejected, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported. That means that the issue could become a bargaining chip in discussions to form a new coalition after the Netherlands’ March 15 lower house election.

Despite that uncertainty, weed sellers welcomed the vote.

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“It is good news for the coffeeshop industry because it will finally — if it passes the First Chamber — put an end to a lot of stuff we can’t organize in a normal and transparent way,” said Joachim Helms, chairman of the Coffee Shop Union.

Ahead of the vote, Alexander Pechtold, leader of the D66 party that drew up the legislation, said it would allow quality checks on cannabis crops, free up police and allow authorities to levy taxes on the huge pot-growing industry.

Afterward, he called the vote “a historic breakthrough.”


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Cannabis Drug Could Extend Lives of Brain Cancer Patients, Study Finds

UK drugmaker GW Pharmaceuticals announced Tuesday it has achieved positive results in the second phase of a clinical study on Glioma, a cannabinoid-based therapy aimed at treating an aggressive form of brain cancer.

The study looked at 21 patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiform, or GBM, and found that participants who were given the drug—a combination of THC and CBD—lived significantly longer than those who took a placebo.

“These promising results are of particular interest as the pharmacology of the THC:CBD product appears to be distinct from existing oncology medications and may offer a unique and possibly synergistic option for future glioma treatment,” the study’s principal investigator Susan Short, an oncology professor at the Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology at St. James University Hospital, said in a statement.

Study participants who received Glioma showed an 83 percent one-year survival rate, GW reported, compared to a 52 percent rate among those who took a placebo. The median survival rate was 550 days among those who took the drug and 369 days among those who did not.

While the company says the treatment was “generally well tolerated”  by patients, there were some observed side effects.  Most common were vomiting, dizziness, nausea, headache, and constipation.

GBM, one of the most common types of brain tumor, is an aggressive cancer that arises in the brain or spinal cord. It carries a poor prognosis, with only 28.4 percent of patients surviving longer than a year after diagnosis. Only 3.4 percent of patients survive to year five.

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CEO Justin Gover said in a statement that the latest results continue to validate the importance of researching cannabis as a treatment for cancer and other diseases.

“These data are a catalyst for the acceleration of GW’s oncology research interests,” he said, “and over the coming months, we expect to consult with external experts and regulatory agencies on a pivotal clinical development program for THC:CBD in GBM and to expand our research interests in other forms of cancer.”

GW Pharma is already known widely for its seizure drug Epidiolex, a cannabis-derived treatment that has shown promising results in reducing symptoms in children with a rare form of epilepsy. Beginning in 2007, the company has conducted research into cannabis as a treatment for various forms of cancer, including brain, lung, breast, pancreatic, melanoma, ovarian, gastric, renal, prostate, and bladder. It has also investigated the possible use of cannabis to treat diseases such as diabetes, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and multiple sclerosis.

The company’s research has resulted in a number of registered patents that could become increasingly important as medical cannabis expands both in the United States and globally.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

German Parliament Greenlights Plan for Cannabis Prescriptions

BERLIN (AP) — German lawmakers have approved legislation that would allow some patients to get cannabis as a prescription-only medication.

Parliament’s lower house passed the bill unanimously on Thursday. The vote clears the way for the law to take effect in March.

Health Minister Hermann Groehe has stressed the move does not mean marijuana will be legal for non-medical purposes.

Groehe says: “Seriously ill people must be cared for in the best way possible” and that includes allowing the public health system to fund cannabis prescriptions for patients “if they cannot effectively be helped any other way.”

Patients in Germany previously have had to seek special authorization to use the drug and around 1,000 people did so. Until a cannabis-growing program is started in Germany, prescriptions will be filled with imported marijuana.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Pressure Mounts for Slovenia to Embrace Medical Cannabis

Pressure to legalize medical cannabis in the small, Central European country of Slovenia has been mounting for some time. It’s beginning to look like 2017 could be a year of change.

The country, perched on the edge of the Alps just south of Austria, boasts magnificent mountin peaks, clear lakes and raging rivers, and—for the past five or six years—a rapidly growing medical cannabis community. While cannabis remains illegal in the country, the number of patients using cannabis to treat their ailments has skyrocketed. Many Slovenes now consume potent extracts made following the recipe of Canadian cannabis advocate Rick Simpson, who visited the country several times during his exile in Europe.

While still anecdotal, the stories of patients successfully treating themselves with medical cannabis have reached Slovenian doctors and scientists. That, combined with growing scientific evidence from around the world, makes the country’s current prohibitionist policies appear untenable in the long run.

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On Dec. 22, Slovenian national newspaper Delo informed readers about various governmental and nongovernmental organizations asking the Health Ministry to clarify its policy on cannabis and protect medical use. The pressure for reform extended to adult-use legalization, though that issue has less public support.

“The attorney general said there are too many court cases for possession and drug trafficking (most regarding cannabis) and too many courts decisions with different standards which only proves the politics and the law is unclear,” Dean Herenda, who’s worked for the Slovenian government for 17 years, told Leafly.

Tens of Thousands of (Illegal) Patients

According to data from the Slovenian Ministry of Health, about 160 patients are currently enrolled in a limited program that allows consumption of synthetic THC—dispensed as Marinol, a registered pharmaceutical—for the treatment of a handful of conditions. “On the other hand, there are around 30,000 Slovenians treating themselves illegally with cannabis today,” Herada said, “which is a huge number for population of 2 million.”

Currently a secretary for the Ministry of Infrastructure, Herenda, 57, became a cannabis activist after first learning about the therapeutic effects of extracts in 2011. He’d just met Simpson as well as his most active Slovenian protégé, Božidar Radišič.

The turning point for Herenda came in 2015, after he watched the country’s medical system leave his loved ones to die. Within the span of three months, he lost his mother, father, and partner to different illnesses. “Cannabis extract helped all of them, but it was unfortunately too late to save their lives,” he said. And because it’s illegal, patients are forced to undergo treatment without a doctor’s supervision.

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“In November 2015, we established the Association of NGO’s for Drugs and Drug Use, with me as president,” Herenda said. “Our goal is to change the inhumane laws concerning the growth, possession, and use of cannabis in Slovenia.” The association now organizes educational seminars for doctors, lawyers, politicians, and the general public.

Another important step in the march towards medical legalization came in October of last year, when the Chamber of Medical Doctors initiated a discussion on cannabinoid medicines in the Slovenian Parliament’s Committee for Health. Herenda and Radišič were present at the  meeting and helped persuade all 11 members of the committee to vote for the removal of cannabis plants from the list of Schedule I substances and the reclassification of THC from Schedule II to Schedule III. The group also voted to begin preparing a legal framework that would allow cultivation, distribution, and prescription of cannabis flowers, oil, and tinctures—with costs covered by public health insurance.

The Health Ministry is expected to present a proposal for cannabis legislation to the government by the end of January.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Despite Growing Demand, Dutch Health Insurers Dropping Cannabis Coverage

One of the biggest health insurance companies in the Netherlands announced last month that it will stop covering the costs of medical cannabis. The announcement, which comes at a time of increasing use of medical cannabis in the country, has sparked sharp criticism among patients.

A spokesperson for the Zilveren Kruis insurance company has said reimbursement for medical cannabis “can no longer be justified because in recent scientific research the effects of medicinal cannabis have not been demonstrated.” The research the company refers to is a 2015 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that concluded that “cannabis and cannabinoid drugs are widely used to treat disease or alleviate symptoms, but their efficacy for specific indications is not clear.”

But the Dutch Bureau of Medicinal Cannabis (BMC), part of the country’s Ministry of Health, sees things differently. In a brochure for patients, the BMC notes that “Medicinal cannabis as yet plays no role in the healing of diseases, but it can reduce the symptoms of the diseases. Medical cannabis can also help reduce the dosages and side effects of other medications.”

“Nobody owns cannabis, so nobody wants to pay for large-scale clinical studies with cannabis.”

Dr. Arno Hazekamp

The decision to drop coverage, which takes effect this year, comes as more and more patients begin treating their ailments with cannabis. The country is on pace to see an 80 percent rise in the number of cannabis prescriptions this year, according to The Dutch Pharmaceutical Weekly, with a total of roughly 45,000 transactions. That number doesn’t include those patients who buy cannabis at the country’s many at coffeeshops or who purchase cannabis oil over the internet.

Since whole-plant cannabis oil is only available at a single pharmacy in the country, an underground network of growers has sprung up to supplying patients, mostly elderly people. The country has also seen an increase in Suver Nuver medical social clubs. They’ve sprung up in three Dutch cities, and two more are set to open next month, including one in Amsterdam.

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The decision by Zilveren Kruis to stop reimbursing the costs for medical cannabis leaves only two smaller insurance companies that still cover cannabis treatment. It strikes many as a strange development in light of the fact that The Netherlands and Canada were the first countries in modern history to legalize medical cannabis on a national level, back in 2003.

Dr. Arno Hazekamp, a leading Dutch cannabis researcher who helped set up Bedrocan, the only legal cannabis production facility in the country, explained the development in a recent interview with Vice. “When a new drug is introduced on the market, it’s extensively researched and tested,” he said. “These studies cost millions, and they are paid for by the manufacturer, who has an interest in approval of the new drug, so that it can be sold at a large profit. That’s how they quickly recover the research costs. But nobody owns cannabis, so nobody wants to pay for large-scale clinical studies with cannabis.”

There is, of course, lots of small-scale research being done. What’s lacking, Hazekamp said, is coordination and standardizatiom. “Different researchers use different types of cannabis, different ways of taking the medicine, and different dosages,”  he said, “so you end up with a lot of different stories.” He compared these smaller studies to pieces of a puzzle—taken together, they support the many positive effects of medical cannabis.

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“In Germany they said, ‘We don’t exactly know for which conditions cannabis is effective,’” Hazekamp continued, “but they chose to authorize patients to use a selection of cannabis products in the coming years. These products have to meet certain quality standards, and all the patients are registered.”

In effect, that creates a gigantic research group. “Put together, this will be a large clinical study to gain experience with medical cannabis,” he said. “Insurance companies must cover the costs, so they can learn what is needed to set things up well. That’s a very scientific approach, and much more honest and decent than what is now happening in the Netherlands.”

As with many other subjects, every EU country seems to handle medical cannabis differently. Most European countries allow some form of medical cannabis, but not one has a comprehensive system in place that addresses the diverse needs of various medical patients and therapeutic consumers. There’s still some way to go until cannabis is a standardized item for insurers and medical professionals.

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Across the continent, however, some things are clearly moving in the right direction, as recent breakthroughs in Ireland and Germany demonstrate. In the Czech Republic, too, the nation’s drug regulator is negotiating with the leading health insurer on the topic of medical cannabis coverage. Even in France, one of prohibition’s last strongholds in Europe, there is talk of reform. It may only be a matter of time before the Netherlands stops moving backward and returns to its pioneering role in decriminalizing and normalizing cannabis.

It’s even possible insurers such as Zilveren Kruis would reconsider their position on covering medical cannabis costs if Dutch authorities allowed the distribution and sale of registered products that are safe, effective, and thoroughly tested. Such products enable precise dosage of defined amounts of active cannabinoids—exactly what medical professionals are looking for in Europe’s emerging medical cannabis systems.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.

Serbian Cannabis Leader Arrested Ahead of Public Hearing

Life in Serbia, the largest and most populous country to emerge after the breakup of communist Yugoslavia in 1991, can still be a challenge for some. The nation’s drug laws are strict, as made clear recently when a leading cannabis advocate, scheduled to give public testimony on the plant’s therapeutic powers, was jailed before he could make his legalization plea.

Patient and activist Dragan Alargić, known by many as the “Balkan cannabis hero,” has been fighting for legalization for several years. When arrested, he was gearing up for what appeared to be a big step forward in Serbian perceptions of medical cannabis.

Alargić is a founding member of the Initiative for Change of Cannabis Laws (IRKA), a nonprofit organization founded in 2013, and one of the most visible patient advocates in southeast Europe. He helped organize the first seminars in Serbia attended by world-renowned cannabis researchers and health professionals, such as Canadians Rick Simpson and Paul Hornby, American molecular biologist Robert Melamede, and Czech chemist Lumír Hanuš, who discovered the so-called bliss molecule in cannabis, anandamide.

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Alargić himself has a serious heart illness and kidney cancer and takes cannabis oil on a daily basis—which is what landed him in hot water with authorities. On Dec. 13, 2016, police broke into Alargić’s apartment, finding an alleged three ounces (100 grams) of dried cannabis buds. They promptly arrested him.

“Although police knew all about his activities, Dragan had been arrested just a few days before the beginning of a new public hearing about a new cannabis law—where he was supposed to testify,” said Milos Simic, who co-founded IRKA with Alargić. “He’s been in custody for nearly a month now as if he were some dangerous criminal. And he is facing three years in prison.”

“If this draft becomes law, thousands of Serbians would continue to suffer.”

Gradimir Veljkovic, IRKA

The public hearing was a step toward the country’s drafting of a new cannabis bill. It began Dec. 26 and has already drawn heavy criticism from activists.

First, IRKA and other NGOs were refused the right to participate in the debate. Then it emerged that the preliminary draft bill is actually more repressive than the current law, which recognizes THC—although not the cannabis plant as a whole—as a “psychoactive medicine.” As such, allows medicinal use of pharmaceuticals Marinol and Sativex, although both are so expensive that few have interest in importing them.

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“The new draft actually prohibits any kind of cannabis—even the use of the word itself—as well as the production of hemp,” said another IRKA member, Gradimir Veljkovic. “If this draft becomes law, thousands of Serbians would continue to suffer and engage in ‘criminal’ activities.”

To counter this trend, IRKA has been organizing meetings, workshops, and panel discussions, as well as participating in regional and international conferences. “We have also filmed over a hundred patient testimonies of successful cannabis treatments, more than any other NGO in Europe,” Simic said. Serbian media, however, don’t pay much attention to such efforts, and mostit’s the country still fear cannabis because of its classification as an illegal drug.


Thank you for visiting MDMMCC.com, the premier Medical Marijuana Certification Center in Maryland. Our Mission at the Maryland Medical Marijuana Certification Clinics (MDMMCC) is to provide the certification necessary for qualified patients to obtain Medical Marijuana in compliance with the Maryland Medical Marijuana Laws in the State of Maryland.  MDMMCC will have offices open throughout Maryland.