Updated on December 28, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
While Portugal only allows patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) to qualify for medical cannabis, it’s essential to understand the process for joining the country’s program and accessing medical weed if you or a loved one are coping with chronic symptoms from MS, like spasticity.
Even though most countries permit multiple conditions to qualify for medical marijuana, Portugal does not. The reason is because medical weed is illegal in Portugal, except for Sativex, which is a cannabis-based medication that is approved and licensed for use in the country.
Sativex is a spray for treating spasticity resulting from multiple sclerosis. It features a one-to-one ratio of the principal cannabinoids in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Several countries where medical weed is legal, like Finland, Italy and the Czech Republic, have also incorporated Sativex into their medical cannabis programs.
The process of becoming a medical marijuana patient in Portugal is straightforward, though it can be time-consuming. First, you’ll need to meet with the specialist managing your condition. For MS patients, this is probably your neurologist.
When you meet with your physician, you’ll discuss the following:
If you and your doctor both feel Sativex would ease your symptoms and make you more comfortable throughout the day, they’ll issue a prescription for it. In the instance your physician is unfamiliar or uncomfortable recommending Sativex, ask if they could refer you to a colleague who is knowledgeable about it. If not, you may have to search for another specialist in the area.
Pharmacies are the sole suppliers of medical marijuana in Portugal. While the country does permit select companies to cultivate medical weed, such as Tilray, it does not purchase the produced medical cannabis for use within its healthcare system. Instead, Portugal imports Sativex.
After you receive your prescription from your physician, you’ll need to visit a local pharmacy. Not all pharmacies carry Sativex, so call ahead to check if yours does. If not, you’ll need to find another pharmacy to fill your prescription.
Prescriptions for Sativex include a 30-day supply and zero refills, so you’ll need to schedule a follow-up appointment with your physician. Portugal does allow you to visit your family doctor to renew their prescription. However, depending on your physician’s knowledge of Sativex, your specialist may have to be the one to renew your prescription.
While Portugal does limit its medical cannabis program’s potential by restricting its qualifying conditions, the country’s medical marijuana laws protect patients. By regulating the cannabis-based medicines available, government officials have made sure only high-quality, safe and inspected medications reach patients.
Requiring physicians to issue a prescription also protects you. The standard encourages you to meet with your doctor so you understand the benefits and side effects of medical cannabis before making an educated decision about incorporating it into your treatment plan.
At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we provide physicians, patients and caretakers with the latest information about accessing medical weed in their country, whether it’s Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic or a state in the U.S. Our library also offers comprehensive resources to help you learn more about medical weed.
To stay up-to-date about accessing medical marijuana in Portugal and elsewhere in the world, visit our blog!