U Turn on Medical Cannabis in the European Union: Patient voices

The biggest change in cannabis policy is the acknowledgement of the medical benefits of the plant. Main progress in countries happens, when patients tell their story, their battle, their relief! People make the change.

The Wild West of Cannabis

On the 30th of November an International Conference on Medical Cannabis was held for the first time in the European Parliament. A breakthrough! Politicians gathered with a range of patients, activists, campaigners, entrepreneurs and scientists from the European cannabis community to discuss the future of the industry: Graham de Barra (director Help Not Harm), Stelios Kouloglou (MP European United Left–Nordic Green Left), Pavel Kubu (International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute), Saul Kaye (iCan Israel), Vera TwomeyTom CurranStefan Eck (MP European United Left–Nordic Green Left). 


One of the key themes to emerge from the conference was the confusing regulatory landscape of the cannabis market across the EU. And it is a mess in Europe!

The Danes have approved a medicinal cannabis trial this year, starting in 2018, while in Hungary cannabis is still the devil’s drug.

In the Netherlands, the oldest controlled medicinal cannabis program in the world, the use of cannabis is no longer covered by health insurance. The Dutch advisory commission concluded there is no scientific proof cannabis is a medicine.

But the Dutch government has allowed to export more than 300 kilos of controlled weed to Germany! There, patients will get their cannabis reimbursed.

And in Italy, the army aims to produce ‘the best-quality’ medicinal cannabis!


Do you still get it?


  • Cannabis remains the most commonly used drug in the EU, with a last year prevalence rate of 6.6% in the EU (against 7% in 2006),
  • With regard to cannabis, for example, there are countries with a last year prevalence rate of 01% (e.g. HU and LT), while in other countries this is as high as 11% (e.g. FR and CZ).
  • The second is a gradual shift in cannabis imports, with European markets becoming self-sufficient under the double impulse of increased demand for Higher quality drugs and the wish for users to avoid interaction with criminal groups.
  • Mirroring the drug use data presented above, cannabis products represent the primary EU drug market, with an estimated retail value of around between EUR 8.4 billion and EUR 12.9 billion


  1. European Drug Report 2016
  2. A Review and Assessment of EU Drug Policy
  3. Legislation on Medical use of Cannabis (European Parliamentary Research Service)

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