It may appear to some that the U.S is the only place that is interested in medical cannabis, since much of the discussion surrounding the issue has focused on the U.S, where several states have enacted medical marijuana or CBD-only laws. However, if one looks further and wider, it will be realized that other countries across the globe are not only investigating cannabis for its medicinal benefits, but have also established laws and are working to establish laws to approve the use of cannabis medicine such as cannabidiol (CBD oil) for the treatment of various medical conditions that goes beyond epilepsy. As medical marijuana research expands and its potential benefits are unearthed, not only the U.S but countries outside its borders are stepping into the medical marijuana world.
Cannabis Extract Medicine in North America and the Caribbean
In the U.S, more than two dozen states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, with varying stipulations such specific conditions allowed for treatment, limits on CBD extract, or a physician’s prescription or recommendation. CBD oil has become very popular in the U.S and has largely been the focus of epilepsy treatment in patients with rare genetic conditions such as Dravet syndrome.
In neighboring Canada, the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) was established in August of 2016, which allows for reasonable access to cannabis for medical purposes for Canadians who have been authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes by their healthcare practitioner. Furthermore, qualified users are allowed to grow their own cannabis at home, or designate a caregiver to produce or access it for them.
Paving the way for the Caribbean is Jamaica, that recently enacted the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act, 2015, which decriminalized the personal use of small quantities of cannabis (two ounces or less), and permits the possession of ganja (cannabis) for medical or therapeutic purposes on the basis of a recommendation or prescription by a registered medical doctor. With Jamaica leading the way, hopefully, other Caribbean nations will follow suit.
In early February, 2015, the Uruguay government regulated the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for medical purposes, emphasizing in a decree that only doctors can prescribe marijuana for medical use or any medication that may contain it; medical marijuana will be sold exclusively in pharmacies that must be approved by the Ministry of Public Health (MSP).
The first state (anywhere in Latin America) supported medical marijuana project was carried out by Chile in 2014, when it approved the growing of 850 cannabis plants in a residential area of the capital city of La Florida for the purpose of extracting cannabis oil to be used as a painkiller for 200 cancer patients. The governor of La Florida supported the measure as a way of providing cancer patients with a natural, healthier and cheaper treatment option to alleviate their pain and suffering.
By far, Europe has the most established use of cannabis medicine, particularly in Western Europe, where Sativex has been largely approved for use. Countries including the Czech Republic, Croatia, Finland, Germany, and Austria have all legalized marijuana for medical purposes, among others.
Middle East and Australia
The tiny Middle Eastern nation of Israel is leading the world in medical marijuana research. Operating under the authorization of the Israeli government, Tikun Olam is one of the biggest medical cannabis companies in Israel and have one of the most extensive medical cannabis patient databases.
Recently, the Australian Federal Government green-lighted authorized companies to legally import, store and sell medical marijuana until domestic production meets local needs. This comes a year after the government established legislation permitting medicinal cannibal for the purposes of treating painful and chronic conditions.
Medical marijuana is gradually gaining support from scientists, medical professionals and policy makers across the globe. As the potential benefits of cannabis are tested through animal and human research and trials, patients suffering from diseases such as cancer, pain and inflammation, epilepsy, anxiety, and depression, among other conditions, can now look to cannabis medicine to possibly ease their suffering. Although much of the news on medical marijuana seemingly focuses on developments in the U.S, researchers in other parts of the world are showing a strong interest in the medicinal benefits to be derived from cannabis compounds such as CBD and THC.