Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Due to the nature of Belgium’s medical marijuana laws, it’s essential to understand them. Whether you’re interested in using medical cannabis for your condition, or assisting a loved one as they weigh their options, it’s key to understand how the country’s laws impact its medical marijuana program, use and more.
Belgium’s medical marijuana laws play a significant role in the medicine’s use. While most countries permit patients to use medical cannabis oils, topicals and capsules, Belgium has only legalized the prescription of licensed cannabis-based medications, such as Sativex.
For several years, however, the country has allowed the cultivation of marijuana. Patients may cultivate up to one marijuana plant with a THC content less than 0.2 percent. Many patients opt to grow and cultivate their medical pot through a cannabis club.
The country’s medical marijuana laws regulate its medical cannabis program. Through the program, you must meet with your physician to discuss the possible benefits, side effects and role a cannabis-based medicine may play in your treatment plan. Once your doctor issues a prescription, you simply visit a local pharmacy to have it filled.
The other option is to cultivate your own marijuana. Many patients become cannabis club members, as it lets you join a community of patients who are familiar with medical weed. A club may also give you the opportunity to try different strains that may be better suited for your condition. It’s important to note, however, that these clubs occupy a legal gray area.
In 2003, the Belgium government decriminalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use. The new legislation defines personal use as three grams of recreational or medical weed, as well as the cultivation of a single marijuana plant.
The public use, sale and transportation of pot, however, pose severe penalties. Using medical cannabis near public place, such as a school, can result in fines that start at more than $7000. Jail time of up to three months is also a potential penalty. Carrying more than three grams with you at once has fines that range from $100 to $200.
A few limitations of medical marijuana laws in Belgium include their acceptance of only cannabis-based prescriptions — which are not available to minors — and strict limits on the cultivation of marijuana. These restrictions often leave patients unable to receive the medicine they need to ease their discomfort or pain.
Research throughout the years demonstrates medical marijuana can help children with certain conditions. Neither Sativex, Cesamet or Marinol, however, are approved for patients under the age of 18, which leaves them unable to benefit from medical cannabis in Belgium.
Belgium has worked to protect its patients and physicians through its medical marijuana laws. By only allowing licensed cannabis-based medications, the government is ensuring the medicine patients are accessing is safe and has undergone years of testing.
The country’s legislation for medical cannabis also prevents physicians from prescribing a medicine they may be uneducated about. With these licensed medications, doctors learn about their uses, benefits and side effects before making the decision to prescribe them, which protects patients’ health.
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