Access to cannabis-derived medicines to be made easier

The Drug Dependency Act, introduced in 2015  brought about the idea of treatment rather than imprisonment for those caught with small quantities of prohibited drugs for personal use. The same law also spoke of the medicinal use of cannabis

A regulatory overhaul would be required to allow the production of medical cannabis in Malta
A regulatory overhaul would be required to allow the production of medical cannabis in Malta

All doctors may soon be able to prescribe medicine derived from cannabis as government plans to present the legal changes to Parliament in the coming days.

The Bill to amend the Drug Dependency Act will make it possible for general practitioners to prescribe the medicine, a government spokesperson said.

The proposal amends Article 10 of the Drug Dependency Act that limits the ability to prescribe cannabis medicine to specialist doctors.

The changes are also expected to cater for synthetic cannabinoids that have until now fallen into a legal grey area.

Introduced in 2015, the Drug Dependency Act introduced the concept of treatment rather then imprisonment for persons caught in possession of small quantities of prohibited drugs for personal use.

However, the same law also spoke of the medicinal use of cannabis, allowing specialist doctors to prescribe such medicine if they believe there is “no viable alternative to such prescription”.

Access to cannabis-derived medicines will be made easier, according to the government spokesperson. 

“The Bill is likely to be introduced in Parliament in the coming days,” he added. Patients who have used cannabis-derived products to ease pain have clamoured for easier access to these medicines.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday that Cabinet had approved the proposed legal changes to allow all doctors the ability to prescribe such medicine. However, he also floated the idea of Malta becoming a producer country of medicinal cannabis.

The spokesperson said a regulatory overhaul would be required to allow the production of medical cannabis in Malta.

Cabinet was presented with a memo providing an overview of practice in other countries and detailing the changes that would have to be done to Malta’s regulatory systems.

“Work on this aspect of the medical cannabis issue is still underway,” the spokesperson said.

These changes are distinct from the wider debate on legalising cannabis use for recreational purposes, which was an election pledge by the Labour Party. The public consultation on this aspect is still going on. 

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