Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Following its legalization of medical marijuana, Finland has continued to integrate its medical cannabis program into its healthcare system. Though recreational weed remains illegal, the ability to access medical cannabis has offered patients across the country the opportunity to alleviate symptoms traditional drugs could not.
Since 2012, Finland’s medical marijuana program has undergone several changes. Its approval of the cannabis-based medicine, Sativex, eliminated the application process for both pharmacies and patients, though traditional medical marijuana, which is supplied by Bedrocan, requires a special permission permit.
Because pharmacies fulfill medical marijuana orders, Finland permits physicians to prescribe medical weed. An exception, however, is that specialists must recommend it, rather than a general practitioner. These prescriptions are valid for a 30-day supply and are covered by health insurance.
During the 1700s, hemp was the leading crop in Finland. As the popularity of cotton and flax grew, the cultivation of hemp decreased. Centuries later, during the late 1900s, the government began to criminalize both recreational and medicinal weed.
It took until the early 2000s, more than 30 years later, for the country to rethink its marijuana laws. While Finland legalized medical cannabis, it did not change its stance on the recreational use of weed. However, it did reform the processing of charges for cultivating, carry or selling marijuana.
While you may possess medical cannabis in Finland, you cannot cultivate it. Carrying recreational weed is also subject to day-fines, though you may face additional penalties if you have more than 15 grams of medical pot on your person.
Back in 1994, the Finnish Health Care System began implementing telemedicine. Many hospitals throughout the country now offer telelaboratory and teleradiology services, including remote consultations you can use to make your medical care more convenient.
Common conditions that qualify for medical weed in Finland include:
Finland does not limit which ailments are eligible for medical cannabis. Instead, patients and their physicians determine together if medical weed is an ideal treatment option for their conditions or symptoms. Medications like Sativex, however, are only approved for select conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
Depending on your condition, you may have to apply for a medical marijuana card. In Finland, these are referred to as a Special Permission for Compassionate Use. Applications for these permits are submitted to and approved by the Finnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA). If you receive a prescription for Sativex, you do not need to apply.
A few facts about Finland’s thriving medical marijuana program include:
Finland’s medical marijuana penalties can be severe. Its laws do not differentiate cultivating from selling or transporting from producing — instead, all penalties are based on the amount of cannabis in question. As a result, punishments can range from a day-fine to up to 10 years in prison.
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we provide continuous coverage on medical marijuana in Finland and around the world. Through our expansive resource library and doctor-patient portal, we help patients, physicians and caregivers learn more about medical cannabis laws, programs, research and more.
Read up on the latest developments in Finland’s medical marijuana program by following our blog!