Europe: Austrian Parliament Okays Medical Marijuana, But Only State Agency Can Grow It

The Austrian parliament approved a bill July 9 that allows for the cultivation of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes, Agence France-Presse reported. But the bill gives the exclusive right to grow marijuana to a health and food safety agency under the control of the Health Ministry.

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Maria-Theresien-Platz with Kunsthistorisches Museum and Hofburg Palace in background, downtown Vienna
Still, it is progress, said Michael Bach, president of the Austrian pain studies association OeSG. "Any initiative that makes it possible to develop and provide new drugs for pain therapy is welcome," he said. "Substances drawn from cannabis have been used for medical purposes more and more in the last few years," he added.

It is unclear whether or how quickly this move will result in the provision of medical marijuana to patients or whether it signals a softening of official attitudes toward medical marijuana users. Currently, possession or sales of marijuana will get you six months in prison in Austria.

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