7 December 2016
The Marijuana Times introduces its piece by saying….
On November 24th, the European Parliament in Brussels hosted its first international conference on medical cannabis. Cannabis experts, doctors, patients and representatives of the cannabis industry in Europe gathered to attend the three hour event.
It was an icy cold day and my car informed me that it was -4 degrees Celsius as I made my way into Brussels. Thankfully, the sun was shining. Colleagues (as we all work for the plant) and friends that I have been picking up along the way from the cannabis industry were converging in “the belly of the beast” to have a sensible conversation as to how medical cannabis is going to work in Europe.
Responsibility to provide safe access
Saul Kaye, CEO of iCan, couldn’t have summed the situation up better: “It’s not a matter of if, but when and how you make safe medical cannabis available in Europe. The industry is coming and it will make a lot of money. Not giving patients access to cannabis is negligence on behalf of regulators and they have a responsibility to provide this safe access, not to block it.”
Opening the conference, MEP Stelios Kouloglou spoke of how cannabis leads to economic growth. “Cannabis is the fastest growing sector of the US and Israeli economies. The EU has been left behind.” With regards to health he said, “We want to save lives, we know cannabis can help with many serious diseases. We shouldn’t act like we are in the dark ages and be guided by outdated laws from last century but must be guided by science.”
Introducing the first of two panels, Graham De Barra of Help not Harm, an organization supporting a realistic, evidence-based approach to drug policy in Ireland, reminded us that “we must integrate people into health services and away from the harmful black market”.
Doctors in the house
Well represented on the panels of the day were practitioners who had positive results with medical cannabis for their patients. Dr. Dominique Lossignol, who is a specialist in cancer and pain treatment, prescribes medical cannabis to patients in Belgium. He explained that the human body produces a huge amount of cannabinoids and that “there is a gap in our current medicine, and that gap is cannabinoids. We need them for the best treatment of pain.”
Dr. Franjo Grotenhemen (on hospital bed) addresses the conference. Panel two (from left): Petros Evokes, Manuel Guzman, MEP Katerina Konecna, Carola Perez, Saul Kaye. Image Credit: Bill Griffin
Dr. Franjo Grotenhemen, President of the International Association for Cannabinoids as Medicine and Chairman of the Medical Cannabis Declaration in Germany spoke of our “fundamental human right to good health.” Dr. Grotenhemen, who was speaking from a hospital stretcher for reasons that were not mentioned, said, “Patients have the right and the ability to treat themselves and we don’t allow it.”
He concluded with a powerful statement that makes things so clear, “Patients should have the right to access cannabis and doctors should have the right to prescribe it.”