The Swiss government aims to make it easier for patients to get medical marijuana, proposing on Wednesday to allow prescriptions for cannabis to treat people suffering from cancer or other serious conditions.
The proposal, separate from a Swiss government push to allow some cities to experiment with recreational marijuana, would replace the current system, in which those seeking medical cannabis must apply for an exception from the Federal Health Office to get what is otherwise an illegal drug.
Marijuana is sometimes used to help cancer patients manage chronic pain, to help boost their appetites, and to reduce spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
“The proposal makes it possible for doctors to directly prescribe cannabis as part of their treatment,” the Swiss cabinet said in a statement.
“Growing and processing medical cannabis as well as its sale would then be possible under a system regulated” by Swissmedic, the country’s drug regulatory agency.
A formal comment period runs until mid-October.
Just how insurers will handle reimbursement for medical marijuana will be dealt with separately, the government said.
“The biggest obstacle to automatic reimbursement is that the scientific evidence of efficacy is not yet sufficient and the conclusions of existing studies are sometimes contradictory,” the government said. [Read more at Reuters]