June 15, 2018 / 3:37 PM / a month ago

Portugal's parliament legalises cannabis-based medicines

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a bill on Friday to legalise marijuana-based medicines, after rejecting earlier proposals to allow patients to grow the drug at home.

FILE PHOTO: A flowering marijuana plant is pictured at the Canopy Growth Corporation facility in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada, January 4, 2018. Picture taken January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001 to fight a heroin epidemic, and has legal plantations growing marijuana products for export. But it had trailed EU countries such as Italy and Germany, as well as Canada and parts of the United States on medical marijuana.

FILE PHOTO: Cannabis storage bags are displayed at Triparte shop in downtown Lisbon, Portugal January 10, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

Only one party, the centre-right CDS-PP, abstained in the vote in parliament legalising marijuana-based prescription drugs to treat chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, side effects from cancer therapy, and some other ailments.

The bill now goes to President Marcelo Rebelo de Souza to be signed into law.

All drugs will need a licence from regulator Infarmed, the body which last year authorised a medical marijuana plantation in central Portugal growing plants with a high content of psychoactive ingredient THC for export.

Portugal, on the Atlantic coast has a warm temperate subtropical climate, with mild winters, warm summers and lots of sunny days, which is often compared to that of California, making it an ideal place for cannabis cultivation.

Reporting By Andrei Khalip, editing by Axel Bugge and Robin Pomeroy

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