The European Parliament is currently working on a draft proposal on medical cannabis to harmonize laws within the European Union.
The move has wide-ranging implications because it recognizes the conflict between law and medicine. The proposal cites marijuana’s known medicinal properties and how existing EU prohibitions on cannabis prevent the scientific community from implementing research and treatment, particularly in a widely fractured legal regulatory environment.
The European Parliament shares the legislative function with the European Council. European deputies are directly elected in each member country in Europe, every five years. European deputies can apply to various inner commissions and work on pre-selected policies, but also are free to propose resolutions. If a resolution is adopted, it is very difficult for a member country to oppose it.
Some members of the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety Commission are currently working on a draft proposal for medical cannabis. The motion for a resolution dates back to June 28, 2018, and is being amended. A public hearing should be held on Oct. 1, 2018, to discuss on the draft proposal and see if it could qualify for an official proposal.
Laws Vary Throughout Europe
Each European country has unique policies regarding medical cannabis. Germany has fully legalized medical cannabis, but other countries allow only pharmaceutical cannabis-based drugs or forbid cannabis altogether.
With the proposed rule changes, the European Parliament aims to unify laws inside each member country and create a global policy. The proposal reflects an understanding of the increasing interest in medical cannabis and how a regulated industry could benefit member nations. The proposal specifically aims to curb the illicit marijuana market, control points of sale, add barriers to underage use, and provide safe access for medical patients.
In addition, the draft proposal intends to:
- Draw a clear distinction between medical cannabis and other uses.
- Speed up the research on cannabis for medical purposes.
- Implement a strategy for cannabis-based medicines.
- Encourage medical professionals to share knowledge about cannabis-based medicines.
- Create comprehensive regulation of medical cannabis.
This motion for a resolution from European Parliament members comes from the relevant parliamentary committee on health. Once amended by the parliamentarians, the text will have to be presented to the European Commission, which will have to approve it so that it can be debated and amended in the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, or adopted directly.
Béchir Bouderbala, policy director with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) France, told marijuana.com that the organization “welcomes the important work done by MEPs [members of the European Parliament]. In concrete terms, this motion for a resolution is primarily symbolic, since the powers of the European Commission are themselves very limited in this area.”
“On the other hand, that the European Parliament asks about such an important subject reassures us, so there are many elected officials who understand the social and health emergencies related to the use of medical cannabis, as much as economies of scale that a generalization of drugs could produce.”
If the resolution, after a long process that may last more than eight months, is adopted and becomes law, then it would compel the member states to comply.
However, Bouderbala said this draft proposal could exert leverage that pushes French authorities forward on the topic.
“If the resolution is adopted, it will be transmitted to the French Parliament and will have a legal value,” Bouderbala said. “Although it is not binding, it could be a means of pressure for NGOs to remind French political staff that France fits into a global European whole in which the French prohibitive exception cannot last.”