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Prosecution of Medical Marijuana User Sparks Debate in Sweden

Bill Weinberg

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The trial of a paralyzed man who was prosecuted by Swedish authorities for self-medicating with cannabis has sparked debate over legalization in the Scandinavian nation, according to a report in Sweden's English-language publication the Local

Andreas Thörn, 37, who broke his neck in a motorcycle accident in 1994, used cannabis for relief from neuropathic pain, as well as treatment for anxiety and depression. He was initially acquitted in August 2015 after successfully using a medical defense. Thörn said he had tried numerous pharmaceuticals which did not help and had run out of legal options.  

Claes Hultling, a spinal injury specialist at the Karolinska Institute, testified that studies indicate barely a fifth of spinal cord patients can be treated with the drugs available today.

Thörn said he put the cannabis in his coffee, although accounts did not make it clear if he was using it in tincture form (which could be more effectively administered that way).

But the prosecution appealed, and Thörn faced trial again this week. A follow-up piece in the Aftonbladet newspaper tells us he escaped prison time but was fined 11,700 crowns (about $1,400).

Despite its socially liberal reputation, Sweden is pretty conservative when it comes to the herb. The manufactured cannabis preparation Sativex is legal for multiple sclerosis sufferers—but the cost is prohibitive. Thörn has called on Justice Minister Morgan Johansson to set up a commission to look into proposals for changing the law.

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