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European Parliament Hosts its 1st International Conference on Medical Cannabis

The European Parliament recently hosted the International Conference on Medical Cannabis in Brussels, Belgium.

The European Parliament in Brussels gathered together cannabis experts, doctors, patients and industry representatives from 11 countries on November 30th in its first international conference on medical cannabis.

The inaugural International Conference on Medical Cannabis, organized by the left-wing European United Left/Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group, was aimed at sharing knowledge on the state of legalization around the world and to educate representatives on the elements necessary for building a legal, regulated cannabis market. The 3-hour conference featured two panels and a total of 14 speakers.

What became apparent at the conference, according to Leafy, is the “urgent need for regulation” throughout Europe. Nearly all of the speakers presented on the incredible results seen with cannabis treatments. MEP Stelios Kouloglou opened the conference by speaking on the economic growth benefits associated with legalization.

“Cannabis is the fastest growing sector of the US and Israeli economies,” Kouloglou said, according to Marijuana Times. “The EU has been left behind.” He then added, “We want to save lives, we know cannabis can help with many serious diseases. We shouldn’t act like we are in the dark ages and be guided by outdated laws from last century but must be guided by science.

Saul Kaye, an Israeli pharmacist, reiterated the economic benefits that countries would receive by legalizing cannabis.

“For regulators in the room,” said Saul Kaye, an Israeli pharmacist, “it’s no longer a question of if, it’s now a question of how and when you do it. Every decision you make has an implication in the value chain that you can create. This is an industry that is exploding worldwide, an industry that will make a lot of money and that is the driver. What you need to consider is whether you want to be a part of that initiative or whether you want to block it.”

Medical Marijuana Research

Several doctors were in attendance to present on the latest cannabis research breakthroughs. Cancer and pain treatment specialist Dr. Dominique Lossignol told attendees that he prescribes medical cannabis to his patients in Belgium, but acknowledged that many of his colleagues continue to have misconceptions about cannabis.

“A lot of neurologists don’t know about cannabis,” Lossignol said, according to Leafy. “They just know cannabis as a Rasta drug. They think that it is for reggae men.” He explained that “[Humans] need [cannabinoids] for the best treatment of pain” and finished by claiming that physicians have the obligation to give cannabis to patients if it works for them.

Also in attendance was Vera Twomey, Irish mother to six-year-old Ava Barry who has been diagnosed with Dravet syndrome and at one point suffered from multiple violent seizures every day. Twomey has been traveling out of Ireland to access cannabidiol (CBD), which is currently illegal in Ireland but has proven to be the only effective substance for managing Ava’s seizures. “Her seizures have reduced by 90 percent,” Twomey said, according to Leafly.

“From the time [Ava] was four months old, when she was diagnosed with this condition, her neurologists told us she would never walk, she would never talk, she would be in a wheelchair,” Twomey told the audience. “They told us we would have to look into residential care for my daughter in the future. And that was what we had to accept. And I told all of them no. I told them that she was going to get up and walk and they laughed at me. It took us until the time she was three years old to get her up and walking, but she did it.”

Closing out the conference was Stefan Eck, German member of the European Parliament. He reiterated the importance of legalizing cannabis.

“For 5,000 years, cannabis has been used for medical purposes, and in my opinion it is now time to legalize cannabis for medical purposes in the EU as well. I believe that, as soon as possible, we should at least implement a Europe-wide legalization of cannabis for medical purposes.”

A video of the International Conference on Medical Cannabis is available to stream, here.