After years of legal dispute in Sweden, two chronic pain patients were given the right to use cannabis in the future to alleviate their pain.
“It feels almost unreal. We fought every day for one-and-a-half years. Now, I can finally relieve my pain and get back into everyday life,” paraplegic Andreas Thörn stated on Swedish Television (SVT) after the decision of the Swedish “Medical Products Agency” (MPA). The police had found 100 grams of homegrown marijuana at Thörn’s house two years ago. The 37-year-old man, who had been paralyzed since 1994 after a motorcycle accident, was acquitted by a district court back in 2015 but convicted to a monetary fine by an appeal court last year. Now, the state agency has decided to relent:
“There is clearly some potential for abuse. This is a drug that is illegal to possess and consume. But we have other medicines that are also classed as narcotics. If the rules are correctly followed then there is no reason that [cannabis]should not be used as a preparation in a clinical setting,” Karl Mikael Kälkner, clinical assessor at the MPA, told the Swedish Press Agency TT. But Kälkner added that the decision is “not an approval of the use of cannabis in general.’ The plan is to set up licensing regulations similar to those which Germany just outlawed because they did not comply with the patient’s needs.
In Sweden, alcohol is taxed extremely high and can only be sold in state-licensed alcohol shops, and since the 1970s, politics have targeted a drug-free society. This unachievable goal manifests itself in the most repressive drug policy in Western Europe. Even for consumption, cannabis users can be sent to a closed facility for up to six months. The degree of acceptance for cannabis is still very low in Swedish society, the penalties for possession, production and transfer in the Swedish Narcotics Act are still draconian.
Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett