Spanish parliament agrees to regulate medicinal cannabis

by Lorraine Williamson
medicinal cannabis on prescription

MADRID – The Subcommittee on Medical Cannabis of the Congress of Deputies on Tuesday approved the regulation of this substance for therapeutic purposes. 

The PSOE, Unidas Podemos, Ciudadanos, PNV and CDeCAT voted in favour. ERC and Bildu abstained and the PP and Vox voted against. One of the most important innovations is that it opens the door to dispensing medicinal cannabis in community pharmacies. This was specifically requested by Unidas Podemos and other left-wing groups. 

See also: Support in Spanish parliament for medicinal cannabis regulation 

Specifically, it has been established that the distribution of these standardised cannabis extracts or preparations “must be carried out through the community pharmacy network”. The PSOE had to give in on this point, as this party wanted to limit dispensing to hospital pharmacies. 

In addition, the door is once again opened for the use of flowering tops (cannabis flower) or “preparations of another type available in countries of the European Union”. This is always within an “experimental framework”. 

PNV, Bildu, and ERC supported Unidas Podemos in the ambition that the flower of the plant could also be used. This is something the PSOE is against. 

Against endometriosis, cancer pain, or some forms of epilepsy 

Therapeutic cannabis should be indicated for “spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis, nausea, and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, endometriosis, cancer pain and chronic non-cancer pain (including neuropathic pain) and some forms of epilepsy,” the subcommittee said. 

According to the committee, the list can be extended to other therapeutic indications if studies substantiate their effect. “The available scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic use of cannabis and its products is limited to a few diagnoses. Research should provide more clarity on this in the future,” the committee said in a statement. 

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On prescription 

The prescription to use therapeutic cannabis must be made “exclusively” by physicians and medical specialists “in a context-free from potential conflicts of interest, such as that provided by public health services”. Therefore, according to the committee, training in the therapeutic use of cannabis should be promoted among medical professionals. 

Central registration 

The subcommittee also wants a central registration of patients who are prescribed therapeutic cannabis. PNV, ERC, and Bildu rejected the need for a central patient registry, unlike PSOE and Unidas Podemos. 

The subcommittee justifies a registration system. This is because the data can then form the basis for an evaluation of treatment results in different patient profiles. In this way, the knowledge about the medicine can gradually improve and ultimately benefit the patients. 

The use of therapeutic cannabis should not lead to higher use outside a medical context 

The committee also included in its conclusions a series of points to check that the use of medicinal cannabis does not lead to “greater availability and consumption of cannabis outside the clinical context”. This corresponds to what is required by PSOE, PP, or VOX. 

It is, therefore, necessary to prevent the availability of cannabis for therapeutic use leading to greater availability and consumption of cannabis outside the health context.” 

Periodic evaluation 

Finally, the committee recommended that the therapeutic use of cannabis and consumption data in the population should be periodically evaluated. 

Within 6 months from the adoption (probably next week) of this report by the Parliament’s Health and Consumption Commission, the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) will collect and process these recommendations to improve the availability in the pharmaceutical market of therapeutic cannabis”. 

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