Luxembourg, following a broader EU and global trend, took another step on Tuesday towards legalising medical marijuana by announcing plans for a two-year pilot project.
The plan, which must be approved by parliament, would allow authorities to determine how many people in the tiny duchy will use medical marijuana and under what conditions.
Health minister Lydia Mutsch told a press conference that the government aims to limit marijuana use to people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses.
"This must be an exception in a controlled and secure setting," Mutsch said as she introduced the proposed legislative changes.
The authority to prescribe such treatment "should be limited to certain specialists like oncologists, neurologists and internists," the minister added.
Health and social security ministers also plan to discuss terms and conditions for reimbursing patients who use the drug.
Mutsch intends to present amendments to the draft governing medicinal use of drugs by year-end.
The draft will then go before parliament for debate and a vote. The pilot project would start after the new law is adopted, probably in 2018.
Since 2012, Luxembourg has authorised the use of medicines with cannabis ingredients, but not raw forms of marijuana.
The health ministry's drugs advisor Alain Origer warned that visitors will have to be aware of their own country's laws if they enter Luxembourg for medical marijuana prescriptions and return home to use it.
Some 177,000 workers from neighbouring countries daily enter Luxembourg, a country of 590,000 people.
Neighbouring France bans marijuana use, but Germany recently legalised it for medical purposes. Belgium tolerates limited personal marijuana use even if they have no medical reason.
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