After legalization, what’s next for medical cannabis?
In the past 2 decades, Marijuana laws have increasingly been lifted and relaxed across the globe, hower cannabis continues to be frowned upon in most parts of the world, despite its proven medical benefits. Nonetheless, in the last few years, several countries and US states have laid the groundwork towards legalizing medical cannabis.
Additionally, several European countries have not only legalized medical cannabis, but they are starting to invest heavily in this promising industry. That being said, legalizing medical marijuana is not enough for a population to fully benefit from its many medicinal properties. There are various industries that are impacted by these new laws, and some of these industries cannot adapt fast enough to satisfy the population’s demand for cannabis treatments. Despite the ongoing expansion of legalization, there are still major changes that need to be implemented before anyone can fully embrace the advantages of medical cannabis.
In order for cannabis to be used in the pharmaceutical world, it needs to abide by strict production standards, and since this herb has so far been illegal in most parts of the world, we don’t yet have an efficient production model that can be implemented in the countries that legalized the drug. Nonetheless, Europe has taken upon itself to become the biggest cannabis market in the world. This is happening mainly because Europe does not want to depend on imports to support its cannabis industry. Moreover, it doesn’t hurt that the cannabis industry is proving to be quite a lucrative market. According to financial experts, the medical cannabis market is expected to be worth €55 billion by 2028.
However, in most of the legalized countries, the production process of legal medical cannabis still has a long way to go until it can satisfy the needs of the population. For example, in Germany, treatment stocks run out in a few days and most patients have to wait weeks, sometimes even months until they can have access to their prescribed treatments.
The illegal history of cannabis has hindered numerous research possibilities. Cannabis has indeed proved to have numerous health benefits and its side effects are not dangerous enough for governments to continue to outlaw this herb. Nonetheless, just because it is not dangerous, it doesn’t mean that we don’t need to study it further.
We still lack a lot of data regarding the proper dosage of cannabinoids, not to mention the fact that we haven’t explored many of the pharmaceutical preparation methods that this herb could support. As far as we know, smoking continues to be the fastest and most efficient way to get the right dosage in the body, but further research could change this fact.
TRAINING FOR PHYSICIANS
Whether or not you have your own production system in place, or you rely on imports, simply owning sufficient cannabis is not enough in order to satisfy the population’s need. And that happens for a very simple reason: since this drug has been illegal for such a long time, there are no physicians that are trained to prescribe it. For example, in the UK, over 80,000 doctors are allowed to prescribe medical cannabis, yet only a handful of them do it. Clinicians don’t yet know the procedures required for prescribing medicinal marijuana. Medical cannabis has proven to be particularly efficient in alleviating multiple sclerosis symptoms. However, so far, only a few UK patients have been able to access the treatment, and until this problem is fixed, the black market will continue to thrive. This isn’t in the government’s interest, nor is it in the interest of the patients, who can’t be certain of the quality of the herbs that they are procuring illegally.
As you can see, there are still many challenges that hinder the development of the medical cannabis industry. Governments that have legalized or are looking to legalize medical marijuana must follow some strict guidelines so that patients can actually have access to proper treatments:
- Develop evidence-based education standards and develop training programs for clinicians and dispensary staff.
- Create an efficient production system that can consistently supply pharmacies, dispensaries, and research facilities.
- Encourage investments in the medical cannabis market