Over the course of history, the Grecian people have been hugely influential members of society whose contributions helped shape the course of today’s culture, philosophy, architecture and science. Now, modern-day Greece is opening up its arms to medical cannabis as well, making it the sixth European Union country to do so (joining the Czech Republic, Portugal, Spain, Finland and the Netherlands). The decision was made well over 100 years after the country first banned cannabis sales, consumption and importation in the late-19th century.
On June 30, 2017, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced in a press conference that a medical cannabis legalization effort has been officially signed. Tsipras’ statement, which was translated from his native language, exhibits the hopeful progress to support sick patients everywhere. “From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal,” he said.
“From now on, the country is turning its page, as Greece is now included in countries where the delivery of medical cannabis to patients in need is legal.”
This decision has been over a year in the making. In 2016, Greek Health Minister Andreas Xanthos issued a Common Ministerial Decision, which set up a special committee to study and discuss the possibility of medical cannabis in the country. According to the Greek Reporter, individuals in a variety of professional categories, such as academics, psychiatrists, scientists and legal advisors were invited to participate in the discussion with the goal of proposing regulations. The group’s proposition was submitted to the Xanthos on October 30, 2016.
This time around, the Ministries of Health and Justice were the driving force behind the official legalization in June, who also decided to reschedule cannabis from a “Table A” substance to a “Table B” substance. The “Table A” classification is similar to the Unites States’ Schedule I, as it deems substances to have no medical value. Now, Greece has opened the doors to patient access to medical cannabis by moving cannabis into a category that also acknowledges some medical value, along with other substances such as methadone, cocaine and opium.
According to Neos Kosmos, a Greek newspaper published in Melbourne, Australia, there has yet to be an official announcement issued regarding how the country will obtain its cannabis. However, many believe that Greece will be allowed to provide licenses for cultivation. Other sources predict that Greece will rely heavily on importation from outside the country.
So far, only patients who suffer from conditions such as chronic pain, neuropathic pain, nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, cachexia and anorexia are allowed to consume medical cannabis. Patients will be required to obtain a doctor’s recommendation in order to gain access to their medicine.
Greece has experienced some financial difficulties in the past. The country has encountered numerous bankruptcies, but things could be looking up for Greece if it’s able to successfully launch its legal medical cannabis industry.