Greek Government Approves Medical Cannabis

Medicinal cannabis in Greece
Leaf image : Dohduhdah, Public Domain

Greece has announced it will allow for the introduction of approved imported cannabis medications to treat a range of conditions.

The country’s Ministers of Heath and Justice published the decision late last week in the Official Gazette, indicating Greece will join other European nations legalising medical cannabis, including Austria, Germany, Italy and Spain.

In a speech last Friday, Greece’s Prime Minister said he believed it was an important initiative that will have positive results, both in terms of treatment of disease and investment – and Greece could definitely benefit from the latter.

“From today, the country turns page as Greece is now included in the countries where the granting of medical cannabis for patients who can need is legitimate,” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reported to have said (take into account translation issues).

The decision comes nearly a year after the Greek Health Ministry  announced the formation of a working group investigating the potential of cannabis medicines.

According to GreekCityTimes, changes to the country’s laws including reclassification of cannabis will also pave the way for licenses to be granted for cultivation in the near future. A domestic cannabis cultivation industry could give a much needed boost to government coffers and given the climate, the crop will grow well there. In fact, Greece had a booming trade in cannabis resin prior to prohibition in the late 1800’s.

Possession or use of even small amounts of cannabis has been illegal in Greece for many years. While offences involving small quantities may be decriminalised in court, large amounts can lead to a lengthy stint in prison.

The announcement won’t put medical cannabis products into the hands of patients immediately as a number of additional administrative procedures will need to be set in place first, but the government has committed to do so as soon as possible.

Greece had a very long association with cannabis prior to prohibition. According to Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Greek physician and pharmacologist Pedanius Dioscorides  described the use of the plant for treating some conditions nearly 2,000 years ago in his manuscript De Materia Medica, which remained a leading pharmacological text for 16 centuries.

The ancient Greeks apparently used cannabis as a remedy to treat inflammation, ear aches, and edema.