Macedonia announced the approval of new medical marijuana laws, making it the second Balkan nation and the 13th nation in the European Union to treat the herb as conventional medicine.
“The need to change this law comes from the requests of patients who want to have the option to use naturally derived cannabis products, under strict supervision. The amendments would allow patients to have access to strictly controlled products, improving on the current situation when some patients use unverified products without any supervision regarding the dosage,” said Stojanco Stojkovski, State Secretary of the Health Ministry in Macedonia.
Increasing Cannabis Availability
The country’s new stance on medicinal marijuana was confirmed by Nikola Todorov, Macedonia’s Health Minister. Proposed amendments to the Control of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances law includes allowing the plant to be an option for treatment for patients suffering from crippling diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, childhood epilepsy and HIV. Officials are pushing for mainstream availability by the end of May this year. If all goes according to plan, medical cannabis may soon be available for qualified patients in local pharmacies across the country.
During the parliament meeting, Saso Vasilevski, a member of the ruling VMRO party, elaborated on his relative’s experience with the plant. The cannabis advocate explained that the patient took marijuana extract to alleviate specific ailments associated with cancer. Alen Georgiev from the opposition SDSM party also showed his support, explaining that the legislative changes should be expedited in a timely manner.
The Macedonian Parliament Health Committee had the proposal on their radar for several months before the announcement. To ensure compliance, the organization held several meetings on how to support the new measure. Conflicting interactions with other types of medicine was one of the group’s primary concerns, as well as the possible reclassification of cannabis in the region.
Too Early for Recreational Marijuana
According to a recent poll published through Balkan Insight, roughly 70 percent of local residents in the area support the use of medical marijuana. Despite unwavering support from various local groups and parties, the country seems to be holding back on the possibility of full legalization for recreational use. Only 34 percent of poll respondents acknowledged supporting the herb for recreational purposes. However, with medical cannabis laws on the horizon, more Macedonians may change their views on full legalization measures in the near future.
For now, the government has their hands full with creating a conducive environment for individuals who want to enter the industry. The Macedonian Health Ministry and the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices plan to seek help from foreign authorities to assist in guiding local medical specialists on the proper use of marijuana products. “We are consulting experts, specialist doctors from various fields, pharmacologists, representatives of civil society. We believe that they will help us in finding the most optimal solution,” highlighted Macedonia’s health ministry during an interview with BIRN.