Updated on April 24, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Poland has become one of the many countries in the EU and worldwide to legalize cannabis medicine. So, citizens in need of an alternative form of treatment can now take medical marijuana safely and legally.
Some countries implement an official program patients can join to become eligible for medicinal cannabis. Poland has a program in the sense that the government dedicates some of its work to marijuana medicine. But, they don’t make patients enter a registry to get relief. Instead, Poland lets pharmacies create medications from imported cannabis.
This policy means patients can simply get a prescription for medical marijuana, just like they would for any other pharmaceutical. They can access anything the pharmacies produce, including tinctures, oils and concentrates — all they need is a prescription from a licensed doctor.
Medical marijuana was banned in Poland until 2017. It took a two-year fight from a member of parliament for this change to happen. When Piotr Krzysztof Liroy-Marzec became an MP in 2015, he immediately began work on promoting access to cannabis medicine. He drafted and presented legislation on the issue in 2016 but had no success.
However, after making amendments to his bill, Liroy found greater acceptance from his fellow MPs in 2017. He compromised with MPs concerned about home cultivation by removing all mentions of the subject. Parliament passed the legislation in February 2017 and implemented it later that year.
While Poland’s medical marijuana legislation has opened many opportunities for patients, it retains many of the restrictions the country had before. As part of the compromise with conservative MPs, Parliament banned recreational use and possession. They also made it illegal to grow cannabis at all in Poland, forcing pharmacies to import their plants.
Although a wide range of doctors and pharmacies can give patients access to cannabis medicine, many of them don’t have the proper training. So, telemedicine can help folks reach out to doctors who do have the knowledge to prescribe it confidently. While Poland has the resources for a proper telemedicine network, they are still trying to put it in place.
The medical marijuana bill doesn’t mention any specific health conditions for eligibility. MPs drafted the law this way so it can adapt to medicinal cannabis research. By excluding any exact definitions, anyone with a health condition that shows responsiveness to marijuana can get faster relief.
Poland’s medical cannabis bill doesn’t require patients to register for a card. Instead, they only need a prescription to get their medication. This prescription acts as proof of someone’s eligibility and lets them visit one of the many Polish pharmacies stocking marijuana medicine.
Here are a few things we know about Poland’s program so far:
Although even minor drug possession can earn someone up to three years in prison, Poland has laws in place that give some offenders the benefit of the doubt. If you get caught with a small amount for personal use, the judge and prosecutor can stop criminal procedures. Sentenced users can receive treatment instead of getting penalized in some cases.
With legal medical marijuana being such a new phenomenon in Poland, major changes to legislation could happen. As an informed patient, you should know about any updates that impact your treatment. To stay current with medicinal cannabis news in Poland and elsewhere throughout the globe, follow our blog.