On 6 February 2019, a draft bill was submitted to the House of Representatives establishing a government agency for cannabis that would have the exclusive right to distribute medicinal cannabis.

The draft bill proposes that the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) has the authority to organise the cultivation and distribution of cannabis for medicinal use.

The bill follows research promoting the benefits of cannabis for medicinal use. In 2014, a working group set up within the FAMHP issued an advisory report that concluded medicinal cannabis can be useful for certain pathologies where traditional drugs are less effective.

The draft bill calls for the creation of a government agency in accordance with the treaty, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 30 March 1961. This “cannabis agency” will be established within the FAMHP and will be solely responsible for designating the areas where cultivation will be permitted, granting licenses to cultivators, purchasing and taking possession of the cannabis, and importing, exporting, wholesale trading and maintaining stocks of medicinal cannabis.

Hence, medicinal cannabis will only be available from growers licensed by the agency and through a regulated distribution chain.

The proposed legal framework resembles the Dutch model. In 2000, the Netherlands established the Medicinal Cannabis Agency (Bureau Medicinale Cannabis), which also has the exclusive right to distribute cannabis for medicinal use.

Lastly, the current ban on the magistral and officinal preparation of medicinal cannabis remains applicable.

The draft bill, which can be viewed at this link is now being discussed in the House of Representatives ahead of a later vote.