Medical Cannabis Finds Support in Lithuania

The Lithuanian Parliament voted almost unanimously Tuesday to consider a change in the country’s drug policy. The suggestion was put forth by MP Mykolas Majauskas on Nov. 9 and today’s vote determined if the subject would be debated in Parliament on Dec. 12.

This morning, 92 MPs voted in favor of debating the issue, with one abstention, and none opposed. After today’s results, Majauskas stated the amendment is “the first time that a decision on such a sensitive issue enjoys broad public and political support.”

In Lithuania, cannabis is scheduled as a List 1 drug, which prohibits marijuana for medical use due to the “harmful consequences to human health,” as the law states. Other List 1 substances include heroin, MDMA, cocaine, psilocybin, and opium.

If the amendment is approved after the December debate, it would allow the medicinal use of any List 1 drugs, as long as the substances pass strict safety tests and are scientifically proven to be medicinal substances.

The chair of Lithuania’s health committee, Agnė Širinskienė, showed support for the initiative after the vote, stating she believes the government will be able to “ensure that Lithuanian patients achieve safe and effective scientific evidence-based medicinal products.”

If the amendment is successful after the parliamentary debate in December, the change will require final approval from Lithuanian Health Minister Aurėlijus Veryga. Last April, Veryga endorsed the idea of decriminalizing cannabis for possession and use.

Veryga stated at the time, “if it were decided in the future to legalize [cannabis] for medicinal purposes, a very clear and strict mechanism should be put in place to prevent any abuse.”

Currently, cannabis cultivation for any reason in Lithuania can lead to imprisonment for up to five years.

With the hope the amendment receives final approval from MPs and the health minister in December, the change would be enacted by 2019. Majauskas is confident, however, that the date can be moved up based on the strong show of support in Parliament.

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