Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Portugal follows a strict approach to its medical marijuana laws, which limit the use of medical cannabis. As a patient or caregiver, it’s essential to review the country’s legislation before discussing with your doctor the option of incorporating medical marijuana into your treatment plan.
Lawmakers in Portugal have a substantial influence on the use of medical cannabis. Due to the country’s medical marijuana laws, patients are prohibited from using any form or type of medical weed.
The only approved medical marijuana-related product is Sativex. This licensed prescription drug is cannabis-based, with a one-to-one ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which are two of the cannabinoids found in cannabis.
The effect of Portugal’s medical marijuana laws on the country’s medical cannabis program vary. Through the program, patients are required to meet with their physician to receive a 30-day prescription for Sativex, which can then be fulfilled by a local pharmacy.
As the medical cannabis laws in Portugal prohibit cultivating marijuana for personal use and using fresh or extracted medical weed, the program functions around the healthcare system and Sativex. As a result, the program faces several limitations.
While Portugal decriminalized recreational and medical pot in 2001, it hasn’t lifted any of the penalties placed on cultivating, producing or using medical marijuana. Thus, Portuguese legislation doesn’t differentiate between carrying medical weed or recreational cannabis.
Because of this decision, patients can receive fines. In many cases, those found carrying, growing or producing medical marijuana are required to undergo treatment for addiction, per the order of the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction. This process fails to recognize why patients are using medical cannabis — to treat a condition and its symptoms.
Compared to other medical cannabis programs that include Sativex, such as Finland’s, the program that Portugal has implemented has severe limitations. One of the biggest is that only patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) may access Sativex, as it’s the only condition the prescription drug is approved to treat.
Due to Portugal’s medical cannabis laws, all other patients are prevented from accessing medical weed. For those in constant discomfort, it’s an example of the medical field letting them down. If Portuguese lawmakers permitted patients to cultivate a single marijuana plant, they could help dozens of citizens alleviate and manage their chronic symptoms.
While restrictive, Portugal’s medical marijuana laws do protect patients and doctors. By managing the supply and distribution of medical cannabis, they ensure patients receive medicine that has undergone inspection and testing to validate its safety and efficacy.
Physicians also receive protection by being permitted to prescribe Sativex. In countries like the U.S., states only allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis rather than prescribe it, which can limit the medical advice a physician can offer to their patients, such as dosage or strain suggestions.
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we’re passionate about providing patients and their loved ones with the most up-to-date information on medical marijuana laws in both Portugal and abroad. By receiving updates, you can ensure you’re not in violation of your country’s mandates and take advantage of opportunities your state may offer, such as growing a marijuana plant.
To stay informed on Portugal’s evolving medical marijuana laws, visit our resource library or blog!