Following the change of mind that is taking place in many jurisdictions around the world, Belgium is gradually taking steps relating to the production and research into cannabis products for medicinal purposes. As such, two recent parallel evolutions are noteworthy.

First, a legislative proposal, introduced in late December would, once adopted, require the federal government to invest in research into the use and potential benefits of medicinal cannabis and cannabis oil and would formally ask the federal government to acknowledge medicinal cannabis and cannabis oil as medical products under applicable Belgian legislation. The proposal would further expand the list of medical conditions for which persons are allowed to be prescribed cannabis oil. In its current draft, the proposal would include various illnesses characterized by spasm symptoms such as ALS, epilepsy and, in general, any illness leading to serious neurological pain and/or spasms. Finally, the proposal would also grant a general authorization to all ALS patients to use a mouth spray produced on the basis of cannabis oil. 

Second, the Belgian government has decided recently to set up a dedicated Belgian Cannabisbureau to oversee the local production of cannabis. The Cannabisbureau is to operate under the Belgian Federal Agency for Medicine and Health Products ("Federaal Agentschap voor Geneesmiddelen en Gezondheidsproducten / Agence fédérale des medicaments et produits de santé") and would authorize private companies to produce cannabis under monitorship by the Cannabisbureau. As a next step, the government plans to issue a tender to grow certain amounts of cannabis, and the Cannabisbureau will purchase cannabis from those companies directly with a view to distributing the cannabis for research purposes. Certain Belgian start ups have already informed the public that they would grow up to five tonnes of medical cannabis per year. The Cannabisbureau will also become responsible for the import and export of medical cannabis.

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