MONTEVIDEO – The Uruguayan government wants to spur research on medical marijuana under the 2013 legislation that decriminalized cannabis in the country, Milton Romani, secretary-general of the National Drugs Board, told EFE.
After a videoconference with Israeli experts, Romani said that Uruguay’s legal framework on marijuana “provides a comparative advantage” over other countries in developing medical uses of cannabis.
Dr. Itai Gur-Arie, head of Sheba Pain Clinic, said research on medicinal marijuana faces obstacles in Israel, where the substance is still banned.
Roughly 23,500 patients – 40 percent of them with cancer – in Israel are being treated with some of the diverse cannabinoids present in marijuana.
While acknowledging the lack of conclusive studies, the Israeli participants in the teleconference said that they have enough data to demonstrate the therapeutic value of marijuana.
Michael Dor, medical adviser to the Israeli Health Ministry Cannabis Unit, said that easing pain and chemotherapy side effects in cancer patients, substances contained in marijuana can be administered to epileptics to reduce the incidence of seizures.
Other uses include the treatment of some autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, with creams produced from marijuana derivatives.
Romani told EFE that the Uruguayan government is promoting therapeutic uses of marijuana with the creation of a number of interdisciplinary research teams.
Uruguay’s marijuana law was passed in 2013, though the accompanying regulations were not issued until February of this year.
The government has already approved two companies for the production of recreational marijuana, but has yet to solicit bids for producing medicinal pot.