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Finland: Legalization of Medical Cannabis Considered

(Sept. 5, 2012) In a recent interview, Erkki Palva of Finland’s national pharmaceutical agency, Fimea, stated that the agency will, within a few weeks, issue an assessment of the use of a form of cannabis for medical purposes. (Finland Set for Medical Cannabis Legislation, ICE NEWS (Sept. 4, 2012).)

The decision will concern an oral spray form of cannabis called Sativex; Palva indicated there are no apparent obstacles to licensing the drug in this form. It is hoped that Sativex would help those affected by multiple sclerosis and other diseases; a doctor’s prescription would be necessary to obtain the medication. Sativex is already legal in Sweden. (Id.)

The plan is to determine eligibility for treatment with cannabis on a case-by-case basis. According to Eija Kalso, a researcher at Finland’s Helsinki University Central Hospital, cannabis must still be regulated and is not a general pain reliever. “It’s not effective for the treatment of acute pain or, for example, for cancer-related pains,” Kalso stated. (Id.)

Cannabis is currently not legal in any form in Finland; it is specifically included in the crimes listed in chapter 50, on narcotics offenses, in the Finnish Penal Code. (The Penal Code of Finland, Law 30/1889, as amended through Law 650/2003 [unofficial translation from the Ministry of Justice] (last visited Sept. 4, 2012).)