Research on Medicinal Cannabis is Paramount
Cannabis-based medications are recognised for their therapeutic effects. Many patients with chronic diseases, such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, or those suffering from cancer use cannabinoids to alleviate symptoms and relieve pain. Yet, despite the growing interests and improvements in patients’ conditions, European citizens face many obstacles while accessing the medicinal cannabis. One of the main reasons which prevents patients from accessing safe medicinal cannabis rests in the lack of scientific evidence and research.
European countries enforce different rules for cannabis-derived medicines, from their production to their reimbursement. NGOs, patients’ organisations and European doctors’ associations have urged European policymakers to establish a common regulatory framework on medicinal cannabis that would ensure patients’ fair and safe access. However, a sound regulatory framework can only be established with solid evidence on the benefits of cannabis-based medication.
Considering the scarcity of clinical trials and research on medicinal cannabis, health-care practitioners do not have the necessary knowledge to prescribe confidently medicinal cannabis solutions. Pan-European research on medicinal cannabis would close knowledge gaps in the medicinal cannabis and would validate claims associated with its uses.
Horizon Europe the future the European Union’s Research and Innovation Framework Programme (2021-2027) represents an opportunity for funding research on medicinal cannabis. Horizon Europe will focus on a variety of topics related to health research, including chronic pain and quality of life. This opens opportunities for academia, patients, doctors and industries to work altogether to access funding opportunities that could deliver research on medicinal cannabis.
Many questions remain unanswered on medicinal cannabis. Therefore, it is only by dedicating sufficient funding opportunities on research that knowledge gaps can be closed. Horizon Europe is an unique opportunity to tackle clinical trials on medicinal cannabis and enable the development of new, safe cannabis-based medicines.