09:41 GMT04 August 2020
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    After several years of campaigning, Swedish patients are now being allowed to receive medicinal marijuana on prescription. In this landmark decision, widely lauded as a breakthrough, Sweden has joined its Nordic peers, which in recent years have all green-lit medicinal cannabis.

    Sweden's landmark decision to permit medicinal cannabis, albeit only through oral intake, is widely seen as part of the "green wave" that swept the West in recent years.

    "Of course, it will not change the world, but it will change the situation for a few people," Dr. Claes Hulting, one of the campaigners for the use of medical marijuana who has been suffering from a spinal cord injury himself, told Swedish national broadcaster SVT.

    One of the two people that have been chosen for the prescribed cannabis pilot program is Andreas Thörn, who is suffering from severe spinal cord injury. In recent years, Thörn's case became a symbol in the fight for medical cannabis after he was indicted for having cultivated and used marijuana to manage his chronic nerve pain.

    "It feels almost unreal. We have been struggling with this for a year and a half, and finally I get a chance to relax, get rid of the pain and get back to everyday life," an elated Andreas Thörn told SVT.

    Advocates of medical cannabis keep referring to the medical journal PNAS, which found "strong evidence" to support the theory that cannabis relieves spasms for multiple sclerosis patients, alleviates chronic pain and reduces nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy. According to Dr. Claes Hulting the risks are negligible.

    "It is not about a bunch of cripples siting in a corner and getting high, but about people who have chronic neuropathic pain they seek to ease," Claes Hultling told SVT.

    Whereas this announcement was widely hailed by doctors as a last resort painkiller for chronic patients who have developed drug-resistance, the Swedish national association Drug-Free Society failed to see anything uplifting about the news. The organization's secretary general Per Johansson both condemned the departure from Sweden's policy regarding intoxicating drugs and questioned the efficacy of raw cannabis consumption.

    "If you simply eat cannabis 'as is,' how are you to determine the correct dose?" Per Johansson asked rhetorically.

    Proponents of cannabis on prescription often point out that Sweden counts among Europe's most conservative countries in this field. Its Nordic peers have all preceded Sweden in adopting medicinal marijuana in some form or another.

    In Norway, around 100 Norwegians regularly traveled to the Netherlands to obtain cannabis on prescription as early as 2015. Last fall, permission to receive cannabis in their home country was finally granted. In Denmark, around 500 patients will get prescribed cannabis in a pilot project starting in 2018. In Finland around a hundred patients receive special permission to use cannabis, usually for chronic pain.


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    medicinal marijuana, health, medicine, Scandinavia, Sweden
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