International attention in hemp and medical cannabis in the European Parliament

24 February 2016
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International attention was raised yesterday in the conference held inside the European Parliament in Brussels on hemp and medical cannabis hosted by SYRIZA MEP, Stelios Kouloglou. 

Prominent figures from the world of politics, international organizations and civil society and many participants from all over Europe to the US participated in a rich and constructive debate on the therapeutic value of cannabis and the multiple uses resulting from the cultivation of this plant helping thus to boost the employment and the economy.

The European magazine Politico announced the conference with a special report entitled “is growing hemp the way to save the Greek economy?”

“Today’s event is the third one in a series of events is to combat unemployment and restart the economy in Greece. The first was about youth entrepreneurship programs, the second about social and solidarity economy and this is now the third on hemp and pharmaceutical cannabis and their beneficial as well as economic impact. Things are very difficult in Europe and even more difficult in Greece and the time is ruthless. We have to work hard in order to deal with this challenge”said Stelios Kouloglou in his opening remarks.

The SYRIZA MEP also moderated the first paneldiscussion on industrial hemp. Francesco Tropea, political analyst from the European Parliament’sResearch Service (EPRS), noted that cannabis is not something new in Greece and Europe but that historicalproduction was widespread in Europe, especially inGreece, Poland and Romania. He also referred to various aid programs based on the Common Agricultural Policyprograms, which can reach up to € 70,000 for young farmers.

Paper, clothes, bags, car doors, scooters even entire buildings can be made from hemp. This is what MarcReinders said, deputy president of the EuropeanIndustrial Hemp Association and of the industrial unitHempFlax, which has put into practice the theory that cannabis is an all-purpose plant.

Myrsini Christou, Head of the Biomass Department atthe Center for Renewable Energy Sources, spoke aboutthe usefulness of the cultivation of cannabis in energyproduction.

Evangelos Matrakas, stated his personal experience as he was confronted with prosecution authorities for manyyears when in 1998 he opened a cannabis shop in Halkida, Greece. Shortly afterwards, he was the one who-in collaboration with a roof manufacturer- cover the roof of the Ministry of Finance building with an ecologicalhemp coating which helped the Ministry save energyequal to 5100 euros per year.

The good news of the day came from Anna Foulidis ofthe Ministry of Rural Development, when she announced that the joint ministerial decision allowing the cultivationof hemp in Greece is about to be signed in the coming days.

The second panel on medical cannabis was moderated bySpanish MEP of the Liberal Group, Beatrice BetheraBasteretsea. First speaker, Michael Carus, managing director of the European Industrial Hemp Association and the Nova Institute said that in 2013, we had 11 500tons of total consumption of hemp and that the use of cannabis in the food chain is now considerably increasedas it contains over 20 vitamins and proteins. Many cannabis products are now available in supermarkets all over Europe.

The coordinator of the European Coalition for just andeffective drug policies, Joep Oomen, estimated thefinancial impact of hemp cultivation and emphasized that in Europe 2-3 million people use cannabis for medical reasons. From 85 – 200 of the active ingredients of cannabis, 12 have now been acknowledged for their healing properties.

Giorgis Ikonomopoulos, psychiatrist and president of the Libertarian Association for Rehabilitation(ELEF.SYN.A) called cannabis “Jesus of Herbs” as it can provide cure for a wide range of diseases.

Particular emotion was caused by the personal public testimony of the mother of a child with a difficult form of epilepsy which is the last and a half year is following a treatment with cannabis oil. As she said, so many yearshave gone wasted in hospitals and in grueling treatmentswith conventional antiepileptic drugs. Cannabis oil brought immediate positive results in reducing seizuresand in enhancing the mood and the behavior of the child.

Present at the conference were the member of the political secretariat of SYRIZA, Yannis Bournous, the MEPs of the European Left, Stefan Eck (Germany) andLuke Ming Flanagan (Ireland) and SYRIZA MEP and Vice President of the European Parliament, DimitrisPapadimoulis.

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