Cyprus Approves new Medical Marijuana Bill

According to philenews, a Greek news distributor, a new bill has been approved that should extend the legislation of medical marijuana in the Republic of Cyprus this Friday. 

After a decade of debating, companies are finally allowed to produce medicinal cannabis in Cyprus. This is not only a big step towards a worldwide acceptance of medical marijuana, but it also opens up new streams of income for the government.

The newly implemented law allows the granting of three licenses which are valid for 15 years and will need a renewal afterwards. Moreover, the licenses will be issued to private companies which will then be allowed to cultivate the cannabis and distribute it to authorized pharmacies. At first, the product will only be available for purchase in-state pharmacies.

However, this milestone is not a free ticket for the cannabis industry in Cyprus, as Cyprus Mail reported in November 2018. The police will supposedly retain control of the supervision of the premises to ensure that all the involved parties comply with the law. Furthermore, the quantity of prescribed marijuana is not allowed to exceed 30 grams and if doctors suggest prescribing more, they have to get permission from the responsible authority. Once Gesy, the health insurance system of Cyprus, is fully in place, private pharmacies will also be able to distribute medical cannabis.

Related: Greece issues Licenses for Medicinal Cannabis

Some critics might argue that the bill will lead to an oligopoly because the initial licenses cost €20,000 each. The legislation was also criticized for not going far enough on numerous occasions. According to the law, doctors are only allowed to prescribe medical cannabis to patients suffering from specific illnesses. However, mental illnesses like depression, neurosis, psychosis and anorexia nervosa are excluded from being treated with medical marijuana, as it may only be prescribed for tremors, ulcerative colitis, spinal cord injury, Tourette syndrome, Crohn’s disease, nausea associated with HIV and cancer treatments, chronic pain and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Security personnel, CCTV and producers of medical marijuana will be subject to a slew of requirements every step of the way which inevitably increases the production costs, resulting in higher costs for the patients.

While it is generally known that cannabis is highly adaptable to various conditions, cannabis plants should receive at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day according to Leafly. However, under the legislation of Cyprus, medical marijuana has to be grown in greenhouses, this means that the plants will be subjected to more humidity, which can lead to mould and damages. To resolve these difficulties, the growers will need specialized air-conditioning equipment and dehumidifiers, which will, once again, lead to higher prices for the patients.

Related: Hope for Legal Marijuana in Mexico

In May 2017, Canadian cannabis producer Tilray already announced to be exporting medical cannabis products to Cyprus. With the new legislation, the medicine will reach not only severe cancer patients, but it will also be used to treat several other diseases. The development can be seen as the first step towards a general legalization of cannabis in the Republic of Cyprus.

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