Across Europe, patients are winning battles for their right to free or insurance-reimbursed cannabis care. What does this mean for North America?
According to the Italian press, a Sicilian woman with MS, Loredana Gullota, received her first fully reimbursed cannabis prescription recently. She is the first patient in the region to obtain the same, despite the fact that the decree to mandate coverage was approved by the regional health system a year ago. According to doctors, this means there are now 5,000 patients across the island they can start to prescribe for – their reluctance so far being cost. The average patient could not afford the monthly fees ranging from 300-1,500 euros.
In Germany, right next door, cannabis prescriptions continue to increase, in part because there is a growing understanding about the drug – and thanks to a national training program that has now been launched on the municipal level to target doctors. This is also true of Luxembourg, where the medical training program is clearly also paving the way for a recreational market to start presumably sometime next year. France is running its medical trial. And other countries are now being pulled along – even the beleaguered NHS is considering ways to make good on the prescriptions it has issued so far (even though there are few of these in the UK either).
But with all this growing enthusiasm on the continent, where does this leave the question of reimbursed cannabis in the United States and Canada – the home of cannabis reform, broadly.
Broader Healthcare Provision Is One Avenue To Greater Reform
There is a certain amount of good news here that can fairly easily bounce internationally if the Biden Administration is bold enough to seize it. Namely, the United States specifically has an opportunity to create a state-based agricultural market that can supply and fund its own healthcare funds. In turn, more people being included again in a semi-public option that also includes cannabis care might be just the ticket that the rest of this conversation really needs to get recreational over the line in the coming years.
In Canada, the lack of enthusiasm for including the drug as part of normalized healthcare provision so far has mostly come from doctors and mostly because of the lack of studies and information available. That is likely to also begin changing as more data is available from Europe.
Ultimately, it will be the medical market in Europe that undergirds other kinds of reform – as elsewhere. And so far, with the exception of the Dutch, this is happening, even if achingly slowly, country by country.
Be sure to book your tickets to the next International Cannabis Business Conference – returning to Europe Summer 2021!