Updated on January 28, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Denmark continues to expand its policy toward medical marijuana. In addition to legalizing cannabis-based medicines, including Sativex, the country has approved magistral preparations and started a four-year pilot program for prescribing other forms of medicinal cannabis, including oils, tablets and more. With these recent legislation improvements, Denmark is in the beginning stages of developing an inclusive, comprehensive medical marijuana program.
Legislators in Denmark established the country’s medical marijuana program in 2011. Through the program, patients can access Sativex, Marinol and Nabilone under select stipulations and through specific physicians — neurologists, for instance, can only prescribe Sativex.
Additionally, Denmark allows the magistral preparation of cannabis substances, such as capsules or oils by local pharmacies. The country has also established a medicinal cannabis pilot program, which lets physicians prescribe any cannabis medicine — this program ends in 2022 for assessment by the government.
The program also offers single reimbursement for Sativex, Marinol and Nabilone.
Like other Scandinavian countries, Denmark features an extensive cannabis history. In fact, several Viking settlements, which date back as early as 550 CE, used hemp seeds — at that time, it is believed Vikings used its fiber. Hundreds of years later during the 18th century, hemp became a booming industry in Denmark.
While hemp farming is still present today, it’s not as prominent as before — the crops cannot exceed a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of 0.2 percent. With the introduction of Denmark’s pilot program, however, licensed producers can now exceed that concentration, opening for a resurgence in quality hemp farming.
Like many other countries, Denmark does not permit the possession or cultivation of recreational marijuana. It does, however, offer exceptions due to its pilot program. Through this program, approved producers may cultivate the plant, while patients with a valid prescription may possess the medicine in the prescribed form.
Denmark started a nationwide initiative to provide telemedicine to all its citizens in 2012. Through Healthcare Denmark, the country has worked to offer telemedicine support across its five regions. So far, the initiative has been met with success, helping patients with rheumatoid arthritis and many other chronic conditions.
Several conditions qualify for medical marijuana in Denmark, including:
Denmark’s qualifications for medical marijuana do include some limitations. For patients with terminal diseases, for example, the country must approve a compassionate use permit. Denmark also prohibits minors from using marijuana, even with the permission of their guardian.
Since Denmark has integrated its medical marijuana program into its healthcare system, the country does not require patients to apply for a medical marijuana card. It does mandate licensed doctors to file some paperwork, however, including for compassionate use permits and single reimbursements.
Some facts about medical marijuana in Denmark include:
While Denmark does not ban the use of recreational or medicinal marijuana, it does penalize for the possession, cultivation and transportation of it — excluding prescriptions. If a non-patient is found with cannabis, they’ll likely receive a fine based on the amount they have. The courts may also order a prison sentence, which can last up to two years.
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