Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
While recreational and medical marijuana remains illegal in Portugal, the government has allowed patients to access prescriptions for cannabis-based medications, such as Sativex, to alleviate spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis (MS). Whether you or a loved one are considering joining the country’s medical marijuana program, it’s essential to learn about the application process.
Portugal’s medical cannabis program doesn’t include medical marijuana cards. The reason stems from the unique approach legislators have taken in developing the program. Since the country only permits the use of Sativex, a spray that features a one-to-one ratio of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), law enforcement does not have the challenge of distinguishing recreational weed from medical pot.
The incorporation of pharmacies into the country’s medical cannabis program also simplifies the process of obtaining medical marijuana. Because physicians can issue a prescription rather than a recommendation for medical cannabis, patients can use their prescriptions as proof of approval instead of government-issued medical marijuana cards.
Since applying for a medical marijuana card in Portugal is unnecessary, focus your efforts on the physician you should meet with to discuss medical cannabis. Portugal’s medical marijuana laws require your specialist, such as a neurologist for MS, issues your prescription.
Schedule an appointment with them, or ask beforehand if they’re knowledgeable about Sativex. If they’re unfamiliar with the cannabis-based medication, consider requesting a referral to another neurologist in the area, or at the hospital you use.
When you meet with your physician, they’ll discuss the following points with you:
After going over these points, you and your specialist can decide if a cannabis-based medication is the right choice. Should you and your doctor agree Sativex could help, they’ll issue a prescription, which acts as your medical marijuana card.
Like medical cannabis cards, Portugal requires you to renew your prescription. While reapplying for a medical marijuana card can consist of filing a new application, obtaining a new order is a straightforward process in Portugal.
To renew your prescription, schedule an appointment with your general practitioner or specialist. If you both feel your new treatment is going well and helping to alleviate your symptoms, they’ll issue a new prescription. It’s essential to note that Sativex prescriptions cover a 30-day supply of medication, so you’ll be visiting your physician each month.
Many countries with medical marijuana programs, as well as some states in the U.S., require physicians to apply for an additional license to recommend medical weed. Portugal does not ask physicians to take this step. Instead, it follows procedure identical to Finland’s, which requires specialists to recommend medical marijuana first.
Because doctors don’t need a certification to prescribe Sativex, patients should evaluate their physicians to make sure they’re knowledgeable about this cannabis-based medicine before accepting a prescription.
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we specialize in providing practitioners, patients and their families with accurate, up-to-date information on medical marijuana, whether it’s in Portugal, Finland or the U.S. Through our comprehensive resource library and blog, we cover the latest news on medical cannabis laws, uses, programs and more.
If you’d like to learn more about Portugal’s medical marijuana program or voice your opinion in legalizing medical marijuana, contact a local government official.