Poland’s lower house of parliament (Sejm) has voted overwhelmingly in favour of making medical cannabis legal “under certain circumstances”.
The decision, which was made on Thursday 22nd June 2017, makes Poland the latest European nation to join the rapidly expanding legal cannabis market throughout the continent. The vote saw a landslide 440 votes in favour, with two opposed and one abstention. The results of this vote means that the Polish public will now have cannabis-based medicine available to them from pharmacies on receipt of a valid prescription.
The tabling of the bill came as a result of public debate which intensified in 2015 following the controversial dismissal of a medical professional. The Warsaw doctor was fired after it was revealed he had experimentally administered cannabis to his young, epileptic patients, without the authorisation of his superiors.
The debate was then revived in 2016 by Tomasz Kalita, a lawmaker that campaigned for the legalisation of medical cannabis throughout his own battle with a brain tumour - a battle which he lost in January 2017. During this time, Kalita was able to stage a demonstration outside the Sejm and later meet with the Polish president - two acts which played a major part in the drafting of the bill.
The Next Steps
The bill was initially put forward in February of 2016 by rapper-turned-politician, Piotr Liroy-Marzec and after a few months of swift progress was signed by Poland’s President, Andrzej Duda. The Bill which was backed by Poland’s own Health Care Committee goes into effect in October. As with previous cases of legalisation, prescription of medical cannabis is restricted to certain conditions, such as nausea brought on by chemotherapy, MS and epilepsy. However, the Polish Bill is a lot less restrictive than its predecessors - allowing doctors to offer prescriptions for any condition that can be treated with cannabis, if supported by research.
Importation & Education
Domestic growth is illegal, however. Although Piotr Liroy-Marzec is still advocating for that aspect of the law to be changed. This means that (initially, at least) all cannabis-based medicines will have to be imported. With this in mind, it’s likely that Poland’s close neighbour, Germany, who have already started to gain a firm foothold on the nascent European medical cannabis market, could see their cultivation demands expand across the border. Although it’s important to state this is all just speculation at this point.
Meanwhile, pharmacists, along with doctors and judges, are being encouraged to educate themselves on all things cannabis before the Bill passes in October. “We sent [a to-do list] to the government to let them know what they need to do to prepare” stated Liroy-Marzec in an interview with Marijuana.com. “The Polish Institute of Cannabis will be starting right now. Education on cannabis is what Poland needs”.