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Medicinal use of cannabis

19 December 2013, Updated 08 April 2014

The Danish Health and Medicines Authority has prepared a memo about the Danish experiences with and rules applicable to medicinal use of cannabis. The background for the memo is an increase in the number of questions and increasing media coverage.

Medicines containing cannabis must be prescribed by a doctor

The media have published a number of articles about people who buy or grow cannabis illegally for the purpose of self-medication or for medicating their children because they believe that cannabis has a beneficial effect and they have not found any other treatment that worked. 

In the memo, the Danish Health and Medicines Authority strongly warns against taking cannabis or products containing cannabis without having a prescription from a doctor. The reason is that it is illegal to possess cannabis and the use of cannabis involves a significant risk of serious side effects. Even small amounts can have harmful effects.

Rules about cannabis

We describe the Danish rules applicable to and experiences with medicinal use of cannabis as well as some of the rules and experience gained in other countries. 

The memo provides a brief overview of the rules applicable to and the experience gained with medicinal use of cannabis in other countries, including the Netherlands and the USA, as well as gives information about research conducted in the area about positive effects of active substances in cannabis. Finally, we describe the rules applicable to import of medicines containing cannabis into Denmark and list a number of relevant answers to parliamentary questions about medicinal use of cannabis.

Products in Denmark

We also provide information about Sativex®, which is authorised as a medicine in Denmark and can be prescribed by specialists in neurology. Sativex® is an oromucosal spray based on an extract of cannabis. So far, we have not received any applications for authorisation to market other medicines containing active substances from cannabis in Denmark. You can also read about the special compassionate use permits for Marinol® (capsules containing dronabinol – a synthetically manufactured cannabinoid), which is marketed in the USA, and Nabilone (capsules containing nabilone – a synthetically manufactured cannabinoid), which is marketed in England.