30 medical cannabis patients given prescriptions so far

The Superintendence for Public Health has accepted 30 applications for prescribing medicinal cannabis since the Malta’s drug laws were amended in the March

Medicinal cannabis is now being dispensed by pharmacies
Medicinal cannabis is now being dispensed by pharmacies

The Superintendence for Public Health has accepted 30 applications for prescribing medicinal cannabis since the Malta’s drug laws were amended in the March.

Superintendent for Public Health Charmaine Gauci, said that 39 applications had so far been received, of which nine were still under review.

Malta amended its drug laws back in March in order to give patients better access to medicinal cannabis, with many MPs arguing that amendments passed in 2015 had not been too restrictive.

Gauci specified that there is no specific control card for cannabis, but rather one that was valid for all narcotics and psychotropics.

Asked whether it was ultimately up to physicians to determine whether their patient required medicinal cannabis, Gauci said that every case is treated on its own merit. “The prescriber applies for a control card for narcotics and psychotropics on a specific form. In accordance with the standard operating procedure, the prescriber lists the medications taken by the patient prior to the decision taken for prescribing cannabis,” Gauci said. “Where required the case is discussed with the prescribing doctor.”

Since Malta’s drug laws were amended, many have expressed their frustration at what they have described as an unnecessarily bureaucratic process for one to access the medication.

Cannabis lobby group ReLeaf said patients applying to use medicinal cannabis were being asked to give up their driving licence. The group said that doctors were being obliged to inform the Commissioner of Police that a patient is using cannabis, in order for the police to proceed with the revocation of their driving licence.

This was rejected by Gauci, however, who said that it was the patient’s doctor who ultimately had to decide whether they should continue driving.

“All doctors who prescribe medication in whatever form, which can hamper the ability of a person to operate machinery or drive safely are obliged to inform the Police on such prescription for this patient,” Gauci said. “This is in terms of Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations of the Maltese legislation.”

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