Spain approves the therapeutic use of cannabis for medicinal use. By the end of the year, pain patients will be able to legally purchase medical cannabis in pharmacies. This has been agreed by a subcommittee of the Congress of Deputies, which has drafted a report that, when approved by the Health Committee, will inform the Government of the findings that have been presented to it over the last half year. This is what the implementation of cannabis for therapeutic use in Spain will be like:
When will it be available?
According to the report, which must now be voted on in the Health Committee, the Spanish Medicines Agency (Aemps) has six months to ensure that, through existing laws, medicines derived from cannabis can be prescribed and dispensed in their composition.
Who will be able to access medical cannabis?
Political groups agreed in the House of Congress on the strongest indications for the usefulness of cannabis to treat spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis, some forms of epilepsy, chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting, endometriosis, cancer pain and chronic non-cancer pain (including neuropathic pain). It also leaves the door open for extension to other therapeutic indications when studies provide consistent evidence.
In what formats will it be available?
Standardised cannabis extracts or preparations will be available. These can provide guarantees of composition, dosage and safety. However, “the development of experimental projects” with cannabis flowers or other preparations available in EU countries will be considered.
Who will be authorised to prescribe?
The submitted text states that prescribing shall be done exclusively by health professionals. “Preferably” it will be done by medical professionals who are specialists with competence in the areas.
Who will be authorised to dispense it?
According to the agreement of the parliamentarians, it is to be carried out “from the network of pharmacies of the health system”, with preference given to hospital pharmacies but exploring the alternative of community pharmacies that can meet the requirements.
Will it be adopted in more areas?
Not in principle. The agreement reached calls for “avoiding” that the therapeutic use of preparations or extracts is “confused with a generic invocation of the general use of cannabis for the population. It is asked to avoid that availability could also lead to increased availability and use of cannabis outside the health context.
How will implementation be monitored and evaluated?
Every year for the next ten years, the Health and Consumer Affairs Commission of the Congress of Deputies will hold a session focused on this issue, to assess the situation and its evolution. Every year, the AEMPS will produce a report on the therapeutic use of standardised cannabis extracts or preparations, which will include information on the options available, the services that prescribe them, patients treated and the volume of products dispensed, as well as their efficacy and safety.