While stakeholders generally recognise the real need some patients have for medical cannabis, a number of concerns need to be overcome before legislation on its cultivation on the island, export and use is passed in Cyprus.
The House Health Committee discussed the issue on Thursday with Health Minister George Pamboridis, who has been advocating Cyprus as the ideal place for the cultivation of medical cannabis for domestic use and export, asking stakeholders “to consider the matter as if it were a development work”.
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As well as noting the project’s potential benefits for the local economy, he also stressed the benefits of medical cannabis “for patients who have no other choice and are suffering”.
In favour of Pamboridis’ efforts are the Pancyprian Federation of Patients’ Associations and Friends, a representative of which at the Committee meeting told MPs “Now there are people in pain and turning to dealers who are taking advantage of them”.
Those concerned about the Health Ministry’s plans include opposition party AKEL and the Anti-Drugs Council which suggests that medical cannabis be imported for a time before decisions on its production in Cyprus are made.
A Council president Chrysanthos Georgiou cautioned that in every country were similar plans were being made, there had been an increase in illegal cannabis use.
A representative of the Law Office of the Republic noted that legislation did exist for doctors in Cyprus to prescribe medical cannabis but that it was not yet being imported to the island.
Some of those attending the committee meeting also expressed concern that medical cannabis, if sold in a form that could be smoked, would lead to it being used by people who did not need it for medical reasons.
The Health Ministry stated that the list of eligible patients Cyprus uses is the same as the list used in other European countries as well as in Israel and the US.
Concerns were also raised over security to protect cultivations. The Anti-Drugs Council’s president noted: “In Italy, medical cannabis is under the army’s jurisdiction. That alone should tell us something”.
A ministry official, meanwhile, also pointed out that Israel was also considering producing and exporting medical cannabis and that Cyprus could lose out on interested investors if a decision was not made soon.