March 10, 2015
The Children’s Memorial Health Institute in Warsaw has started using medical marijuana to treat nine children with extreme cases of epilepsy, with doctors praising initial results.
The first patient to undergo marijuana therapy, a 5-year-old boy called Maks, used to have up to 300 seizures daily, although that number has now dropped by as much as 90 percent, Dr Marek Bachański at the Institute told the PAP news agency.
Other patients under the care of Dr Bachański have also seen a drop in seizures.
Bachański told PAP that in most cases, the child’s parents opt for this form of therapy. “I sometimes also propose [such therapy], although it’s never [a] forced [decision],” he underlined.
Dr Bachański said that even though a small group of child patients had undergone testing with medical marijuana, the results show “effectiveness”, with minimal side-effects, usually drowsiness, fatigue and problems with appetite.
In Poland, doctors wishing to administer medical marijuana must apply for permission for ‘targeted import’ of the drug on an individual basis, and in the case of the children, must be approved by a consultant in paediatric neurology and only then put forward to the health ministry.
Former health minister Dr Marek Balicki told PAP that marijuana is “a safe, effective and cheap drug”, adding that the ‘targeted import’ procedure is “absurd” and should be changed by law.
“If we want health protection laws in Poland to be fully observed, then medical marijuana should be available to all patients who need it,” he said.
In November last year the Constitutional Tribunal upheld the claim that the cultivation of marijuana for personal use may be penalised, although signalled that changes may be made to the law to permit use of the drug for medical purposes.
In 2011, an amendment to Poland’s anti-narcotics bill allowed law enforcers to drop cases where individuals were caught in possession of small amounts of the drug for personal use.