By Derrick Stanley
Marijuana-derived medicines became legal in Macedonia on Monday, making the country one of over a dozen in Europe that have already authorized the products for certain patients.
The head of Macedonia's agency for medicines, Marija Darkovska-Serafimovska, told reporters that medicines containing less then 0.2 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant's main psychoactive ingredient, can now be prescribed by doctors and bought in pharmacies.
"This will help a huge number of Macedonian citizens that are fighting serious illnesses and have a need for treatment with nature-based products," Darkovska-Serafimovska said.
The medicines are available to patients suffering from health problems such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.
The products are only available to patients with a prescription and only under a doctor's supervision.
"This is not a replacement for medical treatment," Health Minister Nikola Todorov said.
Other marijuana use is still illegal in Macedonia.
So far 13 European Union nations have legalized marijuana-derived medicines including Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.