By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized the possession of limited amounts of all drugs, including marijuana, with one of the most liberal substance policies in the world. The move was a controversial response to a heroin epidemic but has led to a decline in drug use, deaths, and HIV rates in the country’s overall population.
In January 2018, lawmakers began debating a bill aimed at legalizing medicinal cannabis in the country. There are licensed domestic cultivation sites, but their products are for export only; the crops grown there are not intended for Portuguese citizens.
Months later, after debates and changes to the Left Bloc Party-sponsored measure, Portugal’s Parliament overwhelmingly voted to pass it Friday. The center-right Popular Party abstained from the vote.
As written, the measure legalizes the medicinal use of cannabis for PTSD, chronic pain, cancer therapy side-effects, and a list of other conditions. Under the bill, cannabis licenses will be available through the regulator, Infarmed who authorized the farm that cultivates cannabis for export.
“Portugal can have an excellent opportunity here for clinical trials since we already have two instances where plantations have been authorized,” said Doctor’s Association head Miguel Guimaraes in an interview with Reuters. “It is an extremely promising area at an international level.”
The bill will now go to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s desk for his consideration. Sousa will decide whether to sign and pass, veto, or allow the bill to become law without signing it.
If passed, the law is set to go into effect July 1.