As previously reported on TCN, medical marijuana has been legal in Croatia since last October. The Immunology Institute is in discussion with a Canadian partner to import.

Croatia could soon start importing medical marijuana. The Immunology Institute is currently in negotiations with a Canadian partner who should provide the first imported batch of raw materials needed to prepare THC-based medicines. The news was confirmed by the Institute director Nevenka Kovač. “We are working on the contract. If there is a deal in January, it would take about a month to get an import license, so in February our pharmacies could receive raw materials needed to produce extracts prepared according to physicians’ instructions”, says Kovač. If the new government does not change the regulations before that,reports Vecernji List on January 13, 2016.

Anyway, doctors are still not prescribing medical marijuana, full three months after they have been allowed to help their patients with muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, cancer and childhood epilepsy. Prescriptions should be issued by family doctors after a recommendation by a specialist, but no such recommendations have been issued so far. Some are waiting for guidance by the Oncological Society, other are directing inquiries to the Ministry of Health, but no one wants to say why THC-based medications are not being prescribed. According to Kovač, it might take about a year before specialists accept the procedure.

“Since October, specialists can prescribe THC-based medications and the imports are allowed, it is just necessary for someone to recognize the needs of the Croatian market”, says the outgoing Health Minister Siniša Varga. However, cultivation in Croatia is not allowed, says Gordan Masnjak, a representative of producers of industrial hemp. “Import of raw materials and production of medicines require a large financial investment because they involve expensive certification procedures”, adds Masnjak.

While legal pharmacies are not interested, the black market is flourishing. According to an informal price list, one gram a day costs 500 kuna, which is 15,000 kuna per month. “I have bought a fake medicine for 2,000 kuna, but I threw it away since it was completely liquid. Then I found the real thing”, says a 40-year-old mother of two from Zagreb. For the last seven years she has been fighting breast cancer and at the end of last year she underwent surgery. “I licked a tiny ball on top of a toothpick three times. I fell asleep soundly. In the middle of the night, I woke up to use the bathroom, but I was nailed to the bed. I lay for about an hour, then I managed to get up. I felt nauseous and had to stick to the walls, but I managed to return to the bed. In the morning, everything was normal”, she says.

A man who undergoes chemotherapy for colon cancer says that many patients carry with them a variety of marijuana medicines, and some even smoke marijuana in a hospital toilet. “It helps them fall asleep. One of them told me that his tumour had shrunk in half after taking hemp oil, and that his doctor was surprised. But, a few years later his tumour returned”, he says