Cannabis – also known as marijuana – has long been tightly controlled and regulated by governments around the world, including in Finland. However, recent research in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors suggests that some strains are safe for medicinal purposes and for the treatment of a number of conditions.
In Finland the cannabinoid CBD, which is aidely thought to have therapeutic properties, is only currently available in one product – Sativex® oral spray – as a treatment for severe muscular spasms in multiple sclerosis patients. Further uses of CBD as a medicinal product are decided on a case-by-case basis by Finland’s pharmaceutical regulator, the Finnish Medicines Agency (FIMEA), the body responsible for supervising and developing the pharmaceutical sector in Finland.
Even in cases where CBD may become available, the threshold for receiving a prescription is high. Prescriptions can only be provided by specialists in neurology or doctors working in a neurological clinic and only after patients have not responded adequately to other anti-spasticity medication and who demonstrate clinically significant improvement in spasticity related symptoms during an initial trial of therapy.
The main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC) but there are more than 100 other cannabinoids within the hemp plant, and there are many differences between them. Unlike THC, cannabidiol – also known as CBD or “cannabis light” – is constituent part of cannabis that has been approved by some medical regulators to treat conditions such as multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
As CBD has become more widely accepted as a medical solution across the world attitudes towards cannabis have softened. Canada allowed medicinal marijuana before it took the step of also legalising recreational marijuana earlier this year.
In Finland, however, cannabis still has a long way to go before its use becomes medically and socially acceptable.