Tag: Europe

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.

RELATED STORY

Are Tourists Allowed in Dutch Coffeeshops? The Strange Tale of the ‘Weed Pass’

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.

RELATED STORY

Dutch Police Raided Nearly 6,000 Cannabis Grows Last Year, Still Can’t Keep Up

“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.

RELATED STORY

How GW Pharma Could Use U.S. Patents to Shape the Future of Medical Cannabis

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.

RELATED STORY

The Roots of Eastern Europe’s Medical Cannabis Revolution

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.

RELATED STORY

Trouble in Bogota: How the Risks of Homemade Cannabis Remedies are Being Felt in Colombia

“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.

RELATED STORY

The Only Dutch Pharmacy That Sells Its Own Cannabis Oil

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.

RELATED STORY

Where to Buy Cannabis in Europe? Coffeeshops vs. Cannabis Social Clubs

“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.

RELATED STORY

Why Europe Can’t Legalize Cannabis Like the US

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.

RELATED STORY

Pressure Mounts as Dutch Coffeeshop Pioneer Languishes in Thai Prison

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.

RELATED STORY

How GW Pharma Could Use U.S. Patents to Shape the Future of Medical Cannabis

“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.

A European’s Take on Colorado’s Cannabis Market

European cannabis consumers, patients, and activists are watching with a bit of envy as legalization in the United States moves beyond Colorado and Washington to other states, from California in the west to Massachusetts in the east. Mainstream media in Europe now routinely report that hundreds of millions of dollars are being collected annually in each state in “weed taxes” and how legalization has created jobs, reduced prison occupancy, and led to capital improvements at schools, parks, and community centers.

Legalization activists in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, and other European nations with relatively liberal drug policies are discussing American cannabis regulation. Some are even crafting legislation based on laws enacted in the first US. states to end the prohibition of cannabis.

RELATED STORY

Why Europe Can’t Legalize Cannabis Like the US

But for a growing number of Europeans, talking theory isn’t enough. They want to see firsthand how it feels to live—if only for a few days—in states where cannabis is legal. Leafly caught up with one of them, Vladan M. (he asked we not use his full name), a 29-year-old chemist from the Czech Republic who spent a week exploring Colorado’s cannabis market.

The more things change…

“The most striking feature of Colorado’s legalization, for me, was the fact that during the whole holiday I failed to notice anything extraordinary or ‘different.’ Be it Denver’s downtown, the outskirts of Boulder, or villages in the countryside, people looked like anywhere else. There were no stoned kids on the streets, fatal car accidents everywhere, or other nonsense predicted by both American and European prohibitionists.”

As a longtime recreational cannabis consumer who has always had to rely on the black market or home cultivation—both illegal in his home country—Vladan couldn’t wait to dabble in Colorado’s legal market and sample some legal stuff for the first time in his life.

RELATED STORY

5 Ways to Help Your Budtender Help You

“Me and two of my friends choose a very discreet dispensary in Boulder, which had the best online rating, and bought a selection of following strains: Blueberry, Maui Wowie, and Lemon Kush, plus some edibles,” he said. “We really appreciated the politeness and helpfulness of the staff, the professionalism of the whole place, and of course the quality of the cannabis we bought.”

Politicians: See it firsthand!

Vladan also praised the fact that every time he and his friends were buying cannabis, they were required to present ID. He and other cannabis tourists visiting the US from Europe are convinced that if law enforcement and conservative politicians from European countries would simply get on a plane and see with their own eyes how legalization works in Colorado, their prohibitionist views would quickly change. “The whole industry seems to be highly professional and decent,” Vladan said. “I think that if I hadn’t been looking specifically for dispensaries and talking with people about cannabis, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that this plant is legal here.”

RELATED STORY

Data Dive: Legalization No Longer a Partisan Issue, 2016 Election Data Show

Vladan currently working for a water cleaning company whose lab—largely thanks to his input—has recently started to offer cannabinoid testing for public and private companies. Now that he’s back in Czechia, what’s his favorite memory from his Colorado adventure?

“I still have to smile when I remember walking past a hippie-type guy in Denver who was having a pleasant, cannabis-related chat with a local police officer,” he said. “It made me realize that this is how it should be everywhere around the world.”


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.

Spanish Doctor Launches Cannabis Research Hub Amid Push for Reform

Legal access to cannabis in Spain, where the plant remains in a legal gray zone, is still a ways over the horizon, but medical patients in country are hopeful change is underway. Developments such as a new national observatory centered on medical applications of cannabinoids and initiatives like the CannabMed conference in Barcelona are adding to the country’s cannabis knowledge base, empowering patients and health care professionals, and highlighting the need for reform of medical cannabis legislation.

José-Carlos Bouso, a pharmacologist,, psychologist and scientific director of International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Science (ICEERS), together with other top scientists and researchers, has created the Spanish Observatory on Medical Cannabis (OECM, Observatorio Español del Cannabis Medicinal). The organization counts among its honorary members a number of top cannabis scientists, such as Raphael Mechoulam, who first isolated and later synthesized tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, Germany’s leading medical cannabis authority; and American neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo.

The observatory promotes the work of its members including the research of Dr. Manuel Guzman and Dr. Cristina Sanchez on the specific actions of cannabinoids in oncology, and also highlights the ongoing research of hundreds of other Spanish health professionals who are breaking new ground in cannabis research. The group is also putting pressure on lawmakers in Madrid to improve safe access to cannabis for medical patients.

RELATED STORY

Why Europe Can’t Legalize Cannabis Like the US

Apart from the Spanish observatory, Bouso is also helping the Spanish cannabis reform effort by launching Cannabmed, a two-day conference on medical cannabis in Barcelona. The gathering of officials and experts will be hosted at Barcelona’s Autonomous University.

“Above all,”, Bouso says, “we want to give a prominent role to patients. They are the real experts, as they are the ones who suffer the disease and know it best. We want to create dialogues where we will analyze problems and find solutions together.”

Spain currently prohibits medical cannabis containing THC. As a result, many patients turn to the hundreds of cannabis social clubs around the country that try to provide minimum medical cannabis services. For now, however, truly safe access to products subject to quality assurance and testing is far from guaranteed.

And although Spain is the world’s second-largest producer of legal opium poppy for medical use, there is still no legal production of medical cannabis. The enforcement of Spanish law “persistently runs over the rights of patients,” Bouso said, “and medicinal cannabis users are affected by the same persecution as non-medical users.”

RELATED STORY

How GW Pharma Could Use U.S. Patents to Shape the Future of Medical Cannabis

Meanwhile, legally sanctioned cannabinoid medicines are limited to extremely expensive registered pharmaceutical drug products such as Sativex, produced by the UK-based pharmaceutical giant GW Pharmaceuticals. Cannabinoid preparations that are purported not to contain the psychoactive compound THC—generally advertised as containing non-psychoactive CBD instead— are increasingly being purchased online in the forms of tinctures and various topical and oral preparations based on hemp extracts, he said.

“Although there are exceptions, many of these oils do not contain what they pretend to,” Bouso said. “Worse still: when analyzed, many of them were found to contain toxic waste chemicals and other contaminants, making the remedy worse than the disease.”

Bouso denounced companies that, he said, “take advantage of the needs of patients to sell them a product of unknown reliability at soaring prices, impossible to pay for many,” but he remains optimistic that the efforts of the new observatory, in addition to conferences and local activism, will illustrate to officials that it is time to reform Spain’s cannabis laws.


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.

Italian Cannabis Reform in Question Following Prime Minister’s Resignation

More than 60 percent of eligible voters in Italy rejected a package of proposed constitutional reforms last month, pushing Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign from his post and throwing into question the fate of a cannabis legalization bill being considered by the country’s parliament.

Italian lawmakers had been debating the pros and cons of an adult-use legalization bill—Europe’s most wide-ranging cannabis legalization proposal to date—for more than a year. A vote on the cannabis bill was set to follow a yes vote on the Dec. 4 constitutional reforms, but that yes vote didn’t materialize. Cannabis advocates are now wondering if the political mess could throw a wrench into the national legalization effort.

Lawmakers in Germany have an adult-use cannabis legalization bill in parliament, though a medical cannabis legalization bill is garnering most political support there. In the Netherlands and the Czech Republic lawmakers are drafting bills to legalize commercial and home cultivation, respectively.

RELATED STORY

First Vape Lounge for Cannabis Patients Opens in Rome

In the aftermath of Renzi’s resignation, Giovanni Paglia of the country’s Left party said he doubted the departure of the prime minister, a cannabis opponent, would actually help the legalization bill’s progress in parliament.

Roughly 60 percent of voters said no to Renzi’s proposed constitutional changes, which some said would weaken the country’s system of governmental checks and balances.

The strong vote in favor of preserving the current constitution could, paradoxically, be a good sign for change in terms of cannabis. Renzi’s center-left opponents, after all, favor cannabis reform. Yet it remains unclear whether there now will be early elections ahead of the next scheduled vote in 2018. The current leadership vacuum could end up overshadowing efforts to secure a vote on the cannabis initiative.

Cannabis could find a friend in the Five Star Movement, an upstart, anti-establishment political party that supports cannabis legalization and is currently leading in polls (though no party is expected to reach an outright majority). Many members of the Left party also support cannabis legalization, as does a minority of Renzi’s Democrats party.

RELATED STORY

Despite Obstacles, Italian Cannabis Supporters Optimistic on Legalization

According to several observers, the weakening of Renzi’s party could bring cannabis reform closer to the center of the government’s priorities if the Democrats open themselves to cooperation with their Left and Green counterparts in order to stay in power through 2018.

Yet the Five Star Movement is calling for new elections without delay. If snap elections are called in the country of 60 million people—which already has legal medical cannabis—the Five Star Movement, Left party, and some rebel Democrats could unite under promises to keep the constitution mostly unchanged. It’s still unclear if such an alliance could muster a majority in the fractured Italian Parliament, doing so would bring a pro-cannabis group into power.


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.

The Roots of Eastern Europe’s Medical Cannabis Revolution

Over the past six years, Eastern European countries have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of patients treating themselves with homemade cannabis extracts. The healing potential of THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids also led to the formation of several Eastern Europe-based patients movements demanding medical cannabis be legalized. What explains the development of such strong advocacy in this region, the likes of which are rarely seen in other European countries?

One explanation is Jindřich Bayer, one of Europe’s most important (yet least visible) cannabis activists. At first a translator specializing in drug policy issues, in 2005, Bayer helped establish the first companies in Central Europe to supply cosmetic products containing hemp extracts. Four years later, in 2009, he invited Canadian activist Rick Simpson and world-renowned Czech cannabis researcher Lumír Hanuš—who isolated anandamide, the first known endocannabinoid, in a lab—to tour the Czech Republic in order to spread the word about cannabis as medicine.

RELATED STORY

Meet Lumir Hanus, Who Discovered the First Endocannabinoid

A month after the tour, Bayer attended the High Times Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. At the event, Rick Simpson received the Freedom Fighter of Year award. Seeds of Eastern Europe’s cannabis revolution were already being sown.

While in Amsterdam, Simpson received word from his son in Canada that his house had been raided yet again by the police. Bayer offered him asylum in the Czech Republic. The two began advising and coaching patients on how to produce and use so-called Rick Simpson Oil, a extract that’s easy for patients to make at home. Despite impressive success with patients, RSO, as it’s now called, failed to win over many Czech health professionals or politicians.

Czechia eventually legalized medical cannabis in 2013. And while the pair’s activism certainly contributed to the change, legalization turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory. The medicinal cannabis law has never really worked in practice: Only a handful of patients and prescribing doctors are registered in the program, even three years after its adoption.

RELATED STORY

Rectal Suppositories Could Be the Future of Medicinal Cannabis

Bayer and Simpson didn’t limit their activities to the Czech Republic, Bayer told Leafly: “We were very disappointed with the lack of interest of Czech authorities in what cannabis extracts can really do, and decided to give it a try in other countries.” Between 2012 and 2014, they spread the word in Costa Rica, Honduras, Spain, and especially the Balkan countries, such as Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Macedonia.

The result of their endeavors is impressive. More than a million hemp cosmetics containers have been sold so far by the companies Bayer helped get to market. Tens of thousands of patients have experienced the therapeutic effects of cannabis extracts firsthand and have started to pressure their governments for reform. The efforts have led to medical cannabis legalization in some form or other in a number of Eastern European countries during recent years, and others are in the midst of heated debate. That speed of change hasn’t been seen in the rest of Europe, where attitudes of the public and the authorities towards cannabis as medicine are changing much slower.

Bayer summed up his experience with using cannabis extract to fight cancer and other diseases in a free e-book, titled Cure for Cancer: The Rick Simpson Protocol (available online here). He’s in the process of arranging for translation into as many languages as possible. English, Spanish, and Vietnamese versions are currently available, Bayer said. “German and Turkish translations should be out soon, too.”


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.