Prominent Maltese MEP Miriam Dalli has called on the European Commission to seriously invest in research regarding medical cannabis, saying that Europe needs to harmonise its legislation on the plant-based medicine.
“Member States need to encourage increased knowledge among medical professionals regarding the use of cannabis-based medicine whilst making sure that patients will have proper and equal access to medical cannabis and ensure that medical cannabis is provided as a safe and equal choice for patients to cater for their actual needs,” she said in an article in a special edition of Health Europa Quarterly dedicated to medical cannabis.
She said that Malta was at the “forefront of European progress in the medical cannabis”, with Malta’s 2018 law a “very important step forward”
However, she continued by saying Europe needed a common legislative framework to fully ensure patients where accessing their medicine when needed, saying education and research where key to this end.
“It is education, research and a common legislative framework that can ensure that physicians will prescribe cannabis for medical use and no longer search for a compromise between medical necessity and legislative restrictions,” she said.
“It has been shown that there are doctors who are reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis because they were never trained to do so,” she said.
This is far from the first time that the Maltese MEP has made the call for more research into the drug.
“I feel strongly about the patient’s right to know”
She emphasised that European patients should be aware of the medicines available to them, and that disparities between Member States laws had to be addressed.
Indeed, just last year, a Spanish medical cannabis patient was fined and had his medicine removed when he came to Malta on a day cruise – even though he was a legitimate medical cannabis patient in Spain.
“Practices differ from one member state to another,” Dalli said. “This results in a fragmented European landscape where the person affected mostly is the patient and his or her ability to access and use cannabis and cannabis-based medicines for medical purposes.”
She called for increased investment into research to provide conclusive evidence on the benefits of medical cannabis, and increased cooperation between European nations to maximise on the medicine.
“Together with stakeholders, citizens and policymakers we can develop a far more reaching legislative framework that will help expand this growing market and bring this beneficial treatment to patients around Europe. For these reasons I am glad that Malta is a trendsetter in this regard,” she ended.
Cover photo: Genevieve Engel