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Access to medical cannabis will be facilitated for patients

Drapeau suisse

« It will no longer be necessary to request an exceptional authorization from the FOPH to use cannabis for medical purposes. The new regulation will particularly benefit people suffering from severe chronic pain and spasticity. »

Federal Office of Public Health

The Federal Council intends to facilitate access to medical cannabis for patients. At its meeting on 22 June 2022, it therefore decided to lift the ban on medical cannabis in the Narcotics Law (LStup). An exceptional authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is no longer required for medical prescription. However, the sale and consumption of cannabis for non-medical purposes remains prohibited. The change in the law will come into force on August 1, 2022, reports the communication service of the Federal Office of Public Health.*

As of August 1, 2022, medical cannabis will be more readily available to patients. The decision to use a cannabis-based medicine for therapeutic purposes will be made by the doctor in consultation with the patient. It will no longer be necessary to apply to the FOPH for an exceptional authorization to use medical cannabis. The new regulation will particularly benefit people suffering from severe chronic pain and spasticity.*

Growing demand*

Until now, it was forbidden to cultivate or import cannabis or to process it into medical preparations without an exceptional permit. Furthermore, the treatment of patients with cannabis-based medicines not subject to authorization was only possible with an exceptional authorization from the FOPH and only in justified cases.*

The demand for such authorizations has increased in recent years. These time-consuming administrative procedures delay treatments, and the current situation no longer reflects the exceptional character provided for by the law on narcotics. The Federal Council therefore submitted to Parliament an amendment to the law to remove the ban on cannabis for medical purposes, which was adopted in March 2021. A narcotics prescription will still be required for such medicines.*

Lack of evidence of effectiveness for reimbursement*

The adaptation of the law does not change the conditions for reimbursement of cannabis-based medicines by the compulsory health insurance. Currently, they are only reimbursed in exceptional cases. The Federal Council has examined whether there is a need for action in this area. However, the available evidence on the efficacy and suitability of cannabis-based medicines is currently insufficient to allow for general coverage.*

The data that will now be collected by the Confederation on treatments with cannabis-based medicines may prove useful. The mandatory data collection serves to observe the evolution of the prescription of these drugs and to obtain more evidence on their effects. It is limited to the first seven years after the law is changed. The data obtained can support, but not replace, a specific claim for reimbursement of cannabis-based medications.*

Need to adapt the implementing legislation

Implementation of the law change requires adaptations to the Ordinance on the Control of Narcotics (OCStup) and the Ordinance on the Schedules of Narcotics (OCStup-DFI), scheduled for August 1, 2022. In particular, the control measures for the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes will be regulated in detail and Swissmedic will assume responsibility for them once the law is amended.*

* original article

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*** ndlr. : –.

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