Catalonia plans cannabis prescriptions

January 31, 2005

Reuters, AlterNet

MADRID - Spain's northeastern Catalonia region is planning to make cannabis available on prescription to the seriously ill, a regional health official said on Tuesday.

The pioneering project, which still has to be approved by the national Ministry of Health, would dispense the drug through four hospitals and 60 pharmacies to patients undergoing chemotherapy or those affected by chronic pain.

'We will start with a pilot programme for some chronic diseases,' Catalan health councillor Marina Geli told journalists.

The drug, which is illegal in Spain, would be dispensed in capsules to patients who doctors believe have not responded well to other medicines.

The ministry has not yet set a date for the project to start as some technical questions need to be resolved, but said there was 'good understanding' between the two sides.

Geli said patients, who would be tracked to evaluate the programme, could start receiving the drug in the first half of this year.

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