Poland’s legal medical cannabis program went into effect last week, roughly three months after President Andrjez Duda signed the bill into law. Legalization proceeded swiftly over the summer. With overwhelming parliamentary support and approval from Poland’s Health Care Committee, the EU member country became the latest to legalize marijuana for medical use on July 20, 2017. As Poland legalizes medical marijuana, however, prospective patients may find the country in short supply of medicine.
Poland Legalizes Medical Marijuana Without A Domestic Grow Program
Doctor Marek Bachanski has seen cannabis oil dramatically improve the lives of children with epilepsy and other neurological illnesses. But Bachanski, a pediatric neurologist and Poland’s leading medical marijuana practitioner, expressed criticism of the new law’s many hurdles.
“Polish patients will have very limited access to this type of treatment because we don’t produce medical marijuana domestically,” Bachanski said.
Poland doesn’t grow cannabis domestically. So pharmacies have to import raw cannabis from other countries and process it on site.
The new law authorizes about 90 percent of Poland’s 15,000 pharmacies to produce cannabis medications. But it restricts patients and operators from cultivating their own plants.
As a result, treatments are going to be more costly for the nearly 300,000 people in Poland who qualify for medical cannabis use.
Even though pharmacies are prepared to process imported cannabis, Bachanski says that imports are already insufficient.
Poland is currently importing its cannabis from The Netherlands. However, experts predict adequate supplies of imported cannabis won’t arrive until next year.
And that’s why MP Piotr Liroy-Marzec, one of the bill’s authors and long-time medical marijuana advocate, is still fighting to change the law to allow for domestic cultivation. Liroy-Marzec is also planning to open a Polish Institute of Cannabis to help educated doctors, officials and pharmacists about medical marijuana.
But conservative Polish lawmakers worry that growing cannabis domestically will lead to recreational-use legalization, a move they oppose.
Poland Legalizes Medical Marijuana For A Broad Range Of Conditions
Despite import-only restrictions, the law legalizing medical marijuana in Poland is relatively expansive. Pharmacies can process cannabis into tinctures, resins, concentrates, oils and other non-herbal forms. They can also sell dried flower.
The law also lifts THC restrictions on cannabis oil. Now, patients can access CBD or THC dominant cannabis oil, depending on their symptoms.
Poland’s medical marijuana law was crafted with patients suffering from serious conditions in mind.
The law makes legal cannabis treatments available for patients with chronic pain, nausea and vomiting caused by cancer treatments, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy or other drug-resistant conditions.
Notably, however, Poland’s medical marijuana law does not set a specific limit on qualifying conditions.
In fact, the legislation doesn’t list specific conditions at all. The open-ended language of the bill was intentional. Lawmakers wanted to make sure doctors could expand access to medical marijuana based on new research into its applications.