Updated on April 18, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
In 2017, India authorized two scientific organizations to research cannabis’ medical properties. With certain types of marijuana approved for study, research and development could lead to a national medical marijuana program. Currently, medical marijuana in any other context is illegal. So, what would an Indian medicinal cannabis program look like?
Since most Indian citizens can’t legally use cannabis, patients who want to use it as medication have plenty of risks to face. The most notable danger is legal persecution, which tends to disproportionally target benign users instead of criminals. Giving patients legal access lets them find relief without fear.
A medical marijuana program would also regulate the quality of medicinal cannabis. Since patients have to get their medicine from illegal sources, it often doesn’t go through any testing for safety or potency. Legal remedies would let patients benefit from a treatment they know is harmless and effective.
If India legalizes medical marijuana, they may or may not require a special application to get it. Many countries originally considered cannabis an illicit substance. While we believe cannabis is a safer option than many pharmaceuticals, the stigma surrounding it often adds extra barriers.
So, what would an Indian medical marijuana program application involve? Countries that require extra steps for obtaining cannabis medicine usually make you see a doctor, who will evaluate your eligibility for marijuana treatment. Sometimes they have a special certification from the government, and other times they can be any licensed doctor. If the doctor approves, you can complete an application to send to the proper government department.
India could also avoid the application process altogether and treat cannabis medicine as a standard medication. In this scenario, your doctor would write you a prescription, which you could take to a pharmacy to fill.
Once you get approval to use medical marijuana, that permission would likely have an expiration date. People’s health needs change over time, so you need to provide updates to let your doctor know how to manage your treatment. Whether or not you have to join a medicinal cannabis program, you’ll still need to maintain your patient status somehow.
In the case of an official medical marijuana program, patients usually have to renew their membership. You would likely visit your doctor for a follow-up visit and submit a renewal form. To keep getting prescriptions from your physician, you would need to work with them continuously.
No matter how you would be required to renew your eligibility, you should still practice some good habits to ensure the best treatment possible. Let your doctor know if you have any side effects or new symptoms, and schedule regular appointments with them to keep an official record of your health history.
Indian physicians may or may not have to take extra steps to legally recommend cannabis medicine. In some cases, doctors must receive a special certification to approve patients for medicinal cannabis use. But, other countries let any licensed physician give permission. Sometimes, a wide variety of medical professionals can provide certification.
Regardless of the circumstances, a physician should carefully consider the qualifying conditions that will be established by Indian law. Regulations might mention specific health issues, or it may leave eligibility up to the doctor’s judgment. Stay up to date with any relevant medicinal cannabis research to make sure you’re informed when any changes occur.
If you want to express your opinion about medical cannabis to government officials, get in touch with your parliament members. Visit the Parliament of India’s official website for a list of every member and their contact information. For updates on Indian medical marijuana law, follow our blog.