The end of this month should see the first medicinal marijuana products available in the Republic of Macedonia.
It was only last November that Macedonian’s health ministry said it was “seriously listening” to opinion on the possibility. Things apparently move quite fast in the nation’s government.
A bill was drafted in December last year that states cannabis will be produced and used only in Macedonia. In February, a Macedonian Parliament Health Committee gave the nod to amend drug control laws to accommodate the change in attitude to cannabis.
“The need to change this law comes from the requests of patients who want to have the option to use naturally derived cannabis products, under strict supervision,” said Stojanco Stojkovski, Health Ministry State Secretary at the time.
Macedonian Health Minister Nikola Todorov reportedly told a press conference on Saturday the program will make medical cannabis available for treating a range of serious illnesses.
The Minister stated foreign experts will also be invited to train medical specialists and pharmacists in the country with regard to safe and effective use of cannabis products.
Medical marijuana has strong support in the Republic of Macedonia, with a survey last year indicating 70 per cent of Macedonians support the medicinal use of the plant for treating serious diseases.
While cultivating cannabis has been illegal in the Republic of Macedonia for some time, it has been grown for thousands of years in the south-eastern region of the country and its presence somewhat tolerated by authorities.
Possession of a small amount of cannabis often just results in confiscation and a warning or detention for a few hours; however larger quantities even if for personal use can lead to a trafficking charge with serious jail time.
Acceptance both in the population and the government of medicinal marijuana is picking up pace in Europe, with more than 17 countries now permitting the use of specific cannabis based medications. While often very restricted at first, these programs represent a foot in the door.
For example, last week we reported Germany will extend its program and soon permit dried cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts to be made available in pharmacies on prescription under certain circumstances – and it will be free.