Cypriot legislators on Friday voted to approve the cultivation and use of medical cannabis, joining a growing trend among other European Union nations.
An amendment to the country's Drugs and Psychotropic Substances law introduces provisions allowing the import of cannabis seeds and plants for cultivation for medical purposes.
According to the law, licenses will be given to three producers during the first 15 years, as the authorities aim to attract firms with an international track record and prevent the product ending up on the black market.
Medicinal cannabis will be allowed on prescription to patients suffering from chronic painful conditions, including those associated with cancer, HIV, rheumatism and glaucoma.
Officials have estimated that Cyprus could see medicinal cannabis worth 180 million euros ($200 million) being produced every year, offering a boost for state coffers.
The Cyprus Green Party welcomed the move Friday with a statement saying: "We hope that the process will be launched immediately for hundreds of patients seeking an alternative, non-chemical way to manage their health problems."
"Although we had proposed many more improvements to this legislation, we believe that the road to medical cannabis has opened in Cyprus," it added.
Over a dozen EU countries have authorized the use of medical cannabis.
Greece in November issued its first licenses for the cultivation and processing of medical cannabis.
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