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Sweden approves medical 'marijuana'

Sweden approves medical 'marijuana'

Published: 12 Feb 2012 09:27 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Feb 2012 09:27 GMT+01:00

Medicinal cannabis is now available as a prescription medicine in Sweden after the Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket) approved a cannabis-based mouth spray for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).

"This is great news for those who can't get any relief from the most common drugs," said Jan Hillert, an MS researcher at Karolinska Institutet, to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

The agency has said that it plans to closely monitor the prescription of the new drug to ensure against abuse.

According to the agency however, the spray does not give any sort of "kick" as the cannabis content is in such small doses and common side effects include dizziness, nausea and drowsiness.

People suffering from MS, which damages the brain and the central nervous system, often experience problems with stiffness and muscle cramps.

The spray, which is used under the tongue, has been proved to be successful in alleviating MS symptoms by a series of medical studies.

The cannabis spray is already available in the UK and Spain. Earlier this year it was approved by agencies in Germany and Denmark.

It is not strictly illegal today to prescribe medicinal cannabis in Sweden but it is a lengthy and complicated process.

The doctor has to apply for a special permit from the Medical Products Agency and if approved the closest pharmacy has to arrange a special import.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:35 February 12, 2012 by Abe L
What about further legalization to the public? This could be an enormous form of tax-income which in return could relieve other taxes, such as income tax and fuel excise.
12:46 February 12, 2012 by swedejane
Hopefully they will continue with decriminalization so the rest of us who suffer from such conditions as sobriety and attendance at large rock festivals can also find relief.
13:04 February 12, 2012 by Dazzler
WTB 1/2oz!
13:09 February 12, 2012 by klubbnika
Wow! Sweden finally came to their senses regarding cannabis.
13:14 February 12, 2012 by BillyB
step in the right direction
13:55 February 12, 2012 by J Jack
so big deal! but at least it shows some intelligence .. which is good
14:05 February 12, 2012 by SteveSimpson
This article is misleading. Sweden have NOT approved medical cannabis, they have only approved the cannabis based drug Sativex, an adulterated Pharmaceutical version of cannabis. You may think its a step in the right direction but all this is just capitalism at work GW Pharma having the monopoly on legal 'contaminated' cannabis supply.
17:18 February 12, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
About time!

The outlawing of certain drugs has always been absurd, with very strong arguments in favour of legalising them. As well as benefiting patients, law enforcement costs could be cut, extra revenue raised, which may very well help to create jobs.
18:46 February 12, 2012 by swe-usa
For all of you that think that legalizing marijuana will benefit society because of attention phrases like "creating jobs" "tax revenue" "cost cutting" etc. You are all high as sh*t!!!
20:44 February 12, 2012 by HeedZ
Sweden has not come to their senses regarding cannabis, this is one of the worst countries in the world to live in if you use cannabis. The government, press and educational educational system compares it to heroin. Big Pharma made this happen, don't believe the hype. It's illegal to even have it in your system and the police have full rights to beat you up and force you to give blood samples if you don't cooperate. Sweden is hell to a smoker.
20:59 February 12, 2012 by Hauhr
@swe-usa, it would be interesting to read the reasoning behind your opinion. In other words, why do you strongly believe that the benefits of decriminalising cannabis are ficticious?
21:06 February 12, 2012 by engagebrain
It will be interesting to see what side effects are listed for the medicinal cannabis.

If the declaration is honest, or scientifically based, cannabis will be substantially safer than alcohol or tobacco.
21:59 February 12, 2012 by philster61
HeedZ. Sweden is a hell to anything enjoyable. Remember, We don't do joy in Sweden
04:24 February 13, 2012 by rise
I don't use cannabis and am only using alcohol maybe twice in a year. But anyway I think since alcohol is legal cannabis should be that just as well. It's not like alcohol is any less dangerous!! Those who thinks otherwise are only fooling themselves by their double standards!
08:24 February 13, 2012 by mamegoma
@swe-usa explain yourself?
11:16 February 13, 2012 by malcolmkyle
The following text is taken directly from the US government's National Cancer Institute website: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/healthprofessional/page4

* ANTI-TUMOR EFFECTS

One study in mice and rats suggested that cannabinoids may have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. During this 2-year study, groups of mice and rats were given various doses of THC by gavage. A dose-related decrease in the incidence of hepatic adenoma tumors and hepatocellular carcinoma was observed in the mice. Decreased incidences of benign tumors (polyps and adenomas) in other organs (mammary gland, uterus, pituitary, testis, and pancreas) were also noted in the rats. In another study, delta-9-THC, delta-8-THC, and cannabinol were found to inhibit the growth of Lewis lung adenocarcinoma cells in vitro and in vivo. In addition, other tumors have been shown to be sensitive to cannabinoid-induced growth inhibition.

Cannabinoids may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Cannabinoids appear to kill tumor cells but do not affect their nontransformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. These compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis in glioma cells in culture and induce regression of glioma tumors in mice and rats. Cannabinoids protect normal glial cells of astroglial and oligodendroglial lineages from apoptosis mediated by the CB1 receptor.

In an in vivo model using severe combined immunodeficient mice, subcutaneous tumors were generated by inoculating the animals with cells from human non-small cell lung carcinoma cell lines. Tumor growth was inhibited by 60% in THC-treated mice compared with vehicle-treated control mice. Tumor specimens revealed that THC had antiangiogenic and antiproliferative effects.

* ANTI-INFLAMMATORY EFFECTS

In addition, both plant-derived and endogenous cannabinoids have been studied for anti- inflammatory effects. A mouse study demonstrated that endogenous cannabinoid system signaling is likely to provide intrinsic protection against colonic inflammation. As a result, a hypothesis that phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids may be useful in the prevention and treatment of colorectal cancer has been developed.

* ANTIVIRAL PROPERTIES

Another study has shown delta-9-THC is a potent and selective antiviral agent against Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8. The researchers concluded that additional studies on cannabinoids and herpesviruses are warranted, as they may lead to the development of drugs that inhibit the reactivation of these oncogenic viruses. Subsequently, another group of investigators reported increased efficiency of KSHV infection of human dermal microvascular epithelial cells in the presence of low doses of delta-9-THC.
11:19 February 13, 2012 by klubbnika
#14

I agree with your 100%. Only the Swedes are too blind to see it. In fact, did you know that Socialstyrelsen wants to have a limitation to the freedom of speech so noone can speak positively about any drugs except for alcohol or tobacco? A bod from Socialstyrelsen told us that on a discussion panel at the University once. How utterly democratic..... NOT!
14:46 February 13, 2012 by rohermoker
I would wager that if this was to be first tried in Malmo, you may see a rapid decrese in the murder rate, or the drug lords may not want the competition, and it may go up.
04:44 February 14, 2012 by rise
#17

What a nightmare! And hopefully it'll keep being just a dream from the Socialstyrelsen's side - to go through with it would mean to go against Sweden's constitution. And to CHANGE anything in the constitution demands a decision from the Riksdag in two separate legislative periods.
15:10 February 14, 2012 by Vill
I have no strong feelings about the legalization of marijuana, but I admit to being outraged that the government would rather legalize a pharmaceutical version that causes nausea and dizziness while fighting the use of naturally grown marijuana. I would like to see a report displaying how much money Big Pharma donates to politicians and government.
23:22 February 14, 2012 by stevo1
cannabis has been used for years to treat anorexia and migraines in different countries with very successful outcomes. Indigenous cultures have also used cannabis and its resin for ceremonial use and in general cooking. The fact is in most developed countries, cannabis was outlawed due to the government payoffs from the fledgling cotton industry (DuPont), as cannabis (Hemp) was the preferred clothing and industrial fiber for many years prior.

On the world Health Organizations list of most harmful drugs to the human body, Alcohol and Tobacco are in the top 10, while cannabis is listed number forty something, even cocaine in it's purest form, isn't that damaging.

This reasoning of cannabis being so harmful is just government propaganda started by the cotton industry some 50 years ago. Agreed, cannabis can cause schizophrenia - but this only happens if you are genetically pre-disposed in the first place (having the illness in your family already). Recent studies have now confirmed cannabis IS NOT a gateway drug either.

It's misinformation that keeps the public and politicians anti cannabis. I come from from a country where it is de-criminalised in a few states for many years, and crime rates linked to cannabis are very low and do not compare to crimes linked to alcohol fuelled violence and road deaths/injuries.

Beside I was only here two weeks before i found the stuff freely available. The law here is the law, but eye drops work wonders :D
07:44 February 17, 2012 by Marc the Texan
A good move in the right direction.

Legalize, regulate and tax all drugs. That includes heroin, cocaine, etc. Plenty of high functioning addicts live to old age and are responsible members of the community. The criminal justice system for drug users is what ruins lives. The black market for illegal substances with high demand fuels violence.

The answer to this problem has been answered by economists and the solution lies squarely within their field of expertise. Hysterical fear of recreational drug use has exacted a heavier toll on society and the drug users than the drugs themselves. The brainwashing cult of drug prohibitionists has been in retreat. Hopefully the pace will quicken.
14:06 February 18, 2012 by tetrahedron
I have been thinking for several years now: put all drugs under some sort of legal control and then free up the prisons to put paedeophiles and child pornographers in jail for a long time. It says something about society that so much time and money has been wasted on the "war on drugs" while people who are the worst danger to children are getting off lightly.
22:44 February 18, 2012 by sureiam
All those who want to get high should be prescribed , as i guess its way better than alcohol as long as it is in herbs and no artificial additions to it...... Lol!
21:30 February 19, 2012 by MurasakiSunshine
This will benefit a lot of people. I do believe marijuana can have positive effects on people who need it. By "people who need it," I don't mean "people who want to sit in their basement and get high while watching Beavis and Butthead." I mean people with things like cancer or MS. It's a shame that so many medications get taken off the market or outlawed because some people choose to abuse it.
09:52 February 20, 2012 by derp
A step in the right direction..
15:23 February 27, 2012 by Achilles7
Re. Message 14

Part of the reason why alcohol is considered more dangerous than cannabis is because it is much more widely used - and that is because it is legalised. Were cannabis as widely used as alcohol, and as readily available, the damage it did would be vast and appalling. That is not because it kills (like alcohol can do), but because it has the power to wreck, irreversibly but unpredictably, the mental health of those who use it. Its users are already badly affected by mental health problems in large and growing numbers.

It amazes me why anybody would want to legalise the inhaling of toxic fumes into one's lungs. Mankind is stupid.
02:08 April 17, 2012 by Bob Jacobson
There is no support for the conclusions in #27. I would guess that at least half of Californians (about 15 million) have at one time or another used marijuana -- as has America's President -- and they seem as sane to me as most Swedes. California and about half of the states in American have legalized medical use of marijuana for a number of reasons. So far, the experiment has been a general success. Yet I was asked about it by a very well informed (I thought) Swedish friend who asked, "Why would they do that? It's addictive!" And was told by another, with horror, that "Smoking marijuana is akin to murder!" These individuals, who have never encountered marijuana in their lives, weren't born believing such outlandish notions. They had to be educated in these falsehoods.

Swedes often laugh at religious nuts permeating the American educational system. I would submit that the dogmatic perpetrators of anti-marijuana ideology are just as laughable. It's sad that in a nation as enlightened as Sweden, citizens are still educated in untruths -- untruths that were first perpetrated during American political conflicts over Prohibition in the 1920s. But then, the Swedish society tolerated segregation of the poor well into the 1960s. If we wait a few more decades, perhaps in this regard, too, Sweden will finally enter the 21st Century.

This week at the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, the former head of Guatemala's drug police gave a keynote address confessing that after 40 years of the global "war on drugs" costing hundreds of billions of dollars, corrupting national and local governments, imprisoning a hundred million non-violent drug users, and resulting in terrible personal tragedies not as a result of minor drug use but a result rather of being punished for it, nothing has changed or been accomplished. The drug trade is more profuse and profitable than ever, the drug lords are now intermingled with investment banking and governments, and while minor drug use is still prosecuted vigorously (generating easy prosecutions and bogus enforcement statistics), serious drug crimes are now going conducted with impunity. Worst of all, people who need help with addiction, etc., are not getting it (other than being tossed in jail) while those who are quite able to control their use -- about 95% of users, according to researchers, far better than with alcohol and prescription drugs -- are denied mild pleasure and vilified for it. Meanwhile, there is now credible medical research to suggest that marijuana use retards Alzheimer's and prevents some cancers, particularly lung cancer.

Mankind is not stupid, Achilles, poster of #27. Stupid is judging your fellow human beings as stupid for not blinding obeying an oppressive ideology, perhaps the worse addiction of all.
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