The European Parliament voted last month in favor of a resolution that would help advance medical cannabis in the countries that form the European Union (EU).

In the statement announcing the resolution, the European Parliament argued “there is substantial evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids have therapeutic effects for treating chronic pain in adults, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and improve muscle spasticity in multiple sclerosis.”

The vote follows reports of the World Health Organization (WHO) recommending a rescheduling of cannabis and several of its key components under international drug treaties.

Seeking to expedite scientific research

Though non-binding, the resolution aims to encourage European nations to increase access to medical marijuana, and to prioritize further scientific research and clinical studies.

The measure specifically calls on EU member states to “address the regulatory, financial and cultural barriers” that have stunted scientific research on cannabis and its medical applications.

To do so, Members of the European Parliament said it’s important to “define the conditions required to enable creditable, independent scientific research based on a wide range of material to be conducted into the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.”

Greater clarity of cannabis laws is required

In the statement, the European Parliament seeks greater clarity in cannabis laws across EU countries and closer collaboration with the WHO in spite of international variation on the political treatment of cannabis.

The resolution also points out the need for EU Member States to ensure equal access to cannabis-based medicines and appropriate case-specific therapies. The measure further insists on allowing “doctors to make free use of their professional judgment in prescribing regulatory-approved cannabis-based medicines to patients with relevant conditions, and to allow pharmacists to lawfully honor those prescriptions.”

As with the WHO’s recommendations, the European Parliament’s resolution does not change any laws at national or international levels, but it is an indication of widespread and influential support for cannabis reform.

“The EU Parliament is just the latest voice to recognize the medical value of cannabis and the benefits of regulation over prohibition,” said Tom Angell, Forbes contributor. “I’m hopeful that the growing chorus in favor of reform will spur action by nations to change their policies and improve access for patients who need this medicine.”

Several EU countries have already legalized the use of some form of medical cannabis or cannabinoids, or are considering such changes to their legislation.

There is, however, wide variation on which cannabis products are allowed and how they should be consumed, although no EU country currently authorizes the smoking or home-growing of cannabis for medical purposes.

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