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Polish Bill to Legalize Medical Cannabis Reaches Parlimentary Committee

One result of the European Union’s policy of leaving domestic drug policy to individual member states is that each one chooses its own path to medical cannabis, creating a variety of different regulatory schemes across the continent. In Poland, the Parliament has begun debate on new legislation that would make cannabis available to tens of thousands of Poles with a wide range of health issues.

A parliamentary commission had its first meeting on the matter last month, a response to the tireless efforts of recently formed political movement Kukiz’15 as well as activists from the NGO Wolne Konopie (Free Cannabis Association) and the Coalition of Medical Marijuana, which consists of doctors, lawyers, patients, and patients’ families.

Kukiz’15 is a somewhat controversial political movement created and led by punk rock musician Pawel Kukiz. It currently occupies 36 seats in the Polish Sejm, the lower house of Parliament that consists of 460 deputies. The party’s most vocal proponent of medical cannabis is Piotr-Liroy Marzec, a famous rapper-turned-MP. The day before the commission’s first meeting on Oct. 20, Liroy met with Health Minister Konstanty Radziwiłł to discuss a draft of the new medical cannabis bill. The minister, however, said proposition—which would, among other things, allow patients to grow their own cannabis—goes way too far. Home cultivation is unnecessary, he claimed, nothing that certain cannabis-based medicines are already available to Polish patients.

“It is a good sign that all the assembled members agreed they are willing to work on the bill.”
Jakub Gajewski, director, Wolne Konopie (Free Cannabis Association)

Liroy then appeared on TV and heavily criticized the health ministry. “The situation is unbearable,” he said. “People are dying every day because of the current laws. I am attending their funerals and you should start attending them, too, talk to their families and tell them face to face what you keep saying to media.”

The proposed new law would allow patients to grow cannabis at home and produce their own preparations. Patients would require permission from a regional pharmaceutical inspector and medical authorization by a physician, listed in  a special register of the health ministry.

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Although the minister of health didn’t attend the first committee meeting himself, his first deputy, Jaroslaw Pinkas, was present through the whole session. The discussion made clear that this ministry strongly opposes domestic cultivation and only supports cultivation by the government.

The chairman of the commission, former Health Minister Bartosz Arłukowicz, of Civic Platform, has set a deadline of five weeks, during which nine deputies will take a closer look at the draft and proposed changes. According to Jakub Gajewski, the director of NGO Wolne Konopie, “it is a good sign that all the assembled members agreed they are willing to work on the bill, yet we are afraid that five weeks are not enough for the members to learn all the necessary facts and make the right decisions.”