Denmark Extends its Medical Cannabis Trial
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The Danish government has extended the country’s medical cannabis pilot program for another four years.
The current scheme, which began in January 2018, was envisioned as a four-year-long trial of a legal medical cannabis system. Many Danish companies have been licensed to grow medical-grade cannabis and new legal infrastructure has permitted prescriptions for Danish patients.
The trial was due to expire in December of this year, but in a press statement on May 25, the Danish government announced that parts of the scheme will be extended.
Danish doctors will retain the ability to prescribe medical cannabis to patients for at least another four years, while cultivation companies will be allowed to permanently grow cannabis for medical use.
Four more years
“The government (Social Democrats), the Liberals, the Danish People's Party, the Socialist People's Party, the Unity List, the New Bourgeois, Liberal Alliance, the Alternative, the Christian Democrats and the Free Greens have decided to continue the trial scheme with medical cannabis,” the government’s press statement reads.
To achieve this extension, the government plans to submit several bills later in the year, which should be adopted before the end of 2021.
“We applause the Danish Parliament’s decision to extend the Pilot Programme that allow local cultivation and production of medical cannabis,” Jeppe Krog Rasmussen, CEO of DanCann Pharma, a Danish medical cannabis company, said in a statement.
“With that said,” he continued, “we must not forget our Danish patients, despite another 4-year trial period with the prescription of medical cannabis in Denmark, nothing has changed in the legal framework regarding conditions, this is just not good enough. We will continue to fight for this as always and we will demand better conditions as well.”
Medical cannabis in Denmark
Despite having a high number of licensed medical cannabis companies, Denmark – like many nations in Europe – still has a small and restricted cannabis-patient community. Currently, just four products – all imports – are permitted by the Danish Medicines Agency for use in the pilot program, but these are seldom prescribed by Danish doctors.
“Medical cannabis is currently used by approx. 1,500 patients (approximately 3,000 prescriptions) on a quarterly basis,” Rasmussen told Analytical Cannabis earlier this year. “However, we see enormous dark figures on the patient side […] approx. 80 percent of patients who have either used cannabis, or are still using it, have procured it through the illegal market outside of their doctor’s hands.”
“This is due to the continued very latent market we see of products in DK [Denmark],” he added, “as well as the expensive prices and doctors who are not cooperative due to several reasons.”
But while prescriptions have been sparse during the trial, cultivation licenses have been rife. Some 47 cannabis businesses have been licensed and around 15 have progressed to constructing facilities and growing crops.
“The political system chose to establish lucrative conditions for new producers of medical cannabis in Denmark, where we have no upper production capacity and also access to exports as one of the still very few countries in Europe,” Rasmussen said. “And for the same reason, we have seen massive investments and large joint ventures in this new market for medical cannabis.”