Medical Cannabis research has boomed in the last decade with Israel being the pioneer. Many other countries have followed Israel’s lead by researching the therapeutic effects. They have noted the Cannabis plant as a great option for a number of conditions. Research now has shown that Cannabis is no longer a “possible” solution to ailments but rather has solid proven results. International research is on the rise and today we will explore the leaders in this field.
In terms of therapeutic research of Cannabis, these countries make the top of the list:
1) ISRAEL- THE PIONEER
It’s no surprise that Israel makes the top of the list. They were the first to start research and remain at the top of their game. Raphael Mechoulam is a professor and researcher from the University of Jerusalem. He first isolated THC more than 50 years ago. Synthesized CBD, and carried out the first study on its effects on epilepsy patients over 30 years ago. Just a few months ago, Raphael Mechoulam started a new project. Leading a team in researching the effects of CBD on asthma patients now.
Israel started promoting research into Cannabis over 10 years ago. The government started a program to boost medical cannabis at a national level. Made prescription cannabis available to over 25,000 Israelis. The government also encouraged producers, institutions, and scientists to be highly active in the research of the cannabis plant.
2) CANADA- BIG COMPANIES
Justin Trudeau (Canada’s Prime Minister) has already legalized recreational marijuana. The government is committed to supporting 14 cannabis research projects through funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
This news is great but hardly surprising as Canada is also a pioneer in that they took a more liberal view of cannabis in the late 90s. The government implemented a program aimed at granting access to medical cannabis and later modified this to allow cannabis cultivation for medical use. As a result of this, Canadian companies have become giants in terms of research, exports, and production. Now, as a result of complete legalization, this research is sure to grow even further.
3) CZECH REPUBLIC- CUTTING EDGE
Medical cannabis in this Central European country has been regulated since 2013. Cancer patients and those with chronic pain have prescription access to the substance. Although this alternative is sold at very high prices, the Czech Republic is home to one of the most cutting-edge research centers in the medical cannabis field.
The International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) is located in Prague and opened at the end of 2015. This institution has the backing of American organizations and from the Czech Ministry of Health. This center also works with tech companies, universities, and worldwide organizations that have an interest in developing therapeutic cannabis. The purpose of the ICCI is to enable the scientific examination of cannabis compounds and their relation and interaction on the human body in the treatment of specific ailments.
4) SPAIN- SENIOR RESEARCHERS
In Spain, you are allowed to cultivate cannabis in your home as long as it’s not for selling purposes. The Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS) may issue cultivation licenses for research and cultivation purposes. Such licenses have already been obtained by five companies. They are now benefiting from 20,000 hectares of land on which they can legally grow cannabis.
In the past few years, Spanish researchers have made significant progress in the therapeutic effects of cannabis. At the University of Madrid, a team of scientists led by Dr. Guillermo Velasco has been researching the application of cannabinoids for treating various ailments since 1998. Researchers from the same university discovered that THC may induce programmed cell death in tumors. In addition to this, Dr. Manuel Guzman announced in 2002 that THC had been used successfully to destroy INCURABLE brain tumors in rats.
Later in 2015, experts in the field of cannabis research founded the Spanish Observatory on Medical Cannabis. This organization was created with a view of organizing, promoting and coordinating activities that are aimed at increasing awareness of the therapeutic properties of cannabis and cannabis derivatives.
5) NETHERLANDS- SLOW AND STEADY
In 2003, cannabis was allowed to be sold in pharmacies to patients who qualify for this. Although research on cannabis is allowed in the country it is under very strict control. The Office of Medical Cannabis which is run by the Ministry of Health is fully responsible for the production and distribution of cannabis to pharmacies, universities and research centers.
Bedrocan is the sole company that produces cannabis and supplies medical cannabis in the country. This company does conduct its own research into the therapeutic effects of cannabis but also works alongside other centers such as the Leiden University Medical Centre. At this moment, they are currently researching the effects of inhaled cannabis on the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
6) URUGUAY- NEXT RESEARCH HUB
Above and beyond the obvious countries that lead the cannabis research market, there are others that will be major research hubs in the years to come. One of these countries is definitely Uruguay, being the first country to fully legalize the cultivation and selling of cannabis nationwide, along with exporting medical cannabis.
Early in this year, Tabare Vazquez (the country’s president), announced the opening of a large and privately owned cannabis research and production plant. Although researchers are basically free to explore cannabis in all aspects, they complain that lack of funding is affecting their projects.
Columbia is another South American country that could become cannabis-friendly in terms of research in the near future. Cultivation for medical and scientific purposes is already legal and researchers across the world regard the country as ideal because of the favorable climate and low production costs.
The USA is by far the most interesting. Although cannabis is not legal on a federal level, many studies on the therapeutic effects of cannabis are conducted here. Moreover, 29 states so far have legalized the medical use of cannabis but because of the federal law, researchers have to try and overcome a myriad of hurdles before they can conduct even one clinical study.
From this, we can see that the United States is not exactly what we would call “cannabis-friendly” from a researcher’s point of view. But as the research continues and more is uncovered about this wonderful plant we can only presume that the list of countries making cannabis available to its citizens will keep growing.
Read more on Medical Cannabis in South Africa here.