Evidence-informed policies “Considerations for the use of medical cannabis: Control, effectiveness, and education support for patients, professionals and the community”

Session Type
Engaging stakeholders and building partnerships
Patiño-Lugo D1, Velásquez-Salazar P1, García D1, Marín I1, Vélez C1, Vera-Giraldo C1, Vélez V1, Velásquez J1, Flórez ID1, Ramírez P1
1Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia

Background: In Colombia, the formulation of the regulatory framework that ensures the safe access to medical cannabis (MC) products presents important challenges.
Objectives: To combine the available scientific evidence with knowledge transfer strategies to support the formulation of the MC policy.
Methods: Policymakers at the Ministry of Health identified three elements to address the problem: 1) Setting the control limit of THC; 2) identifying effective and safe uses and 3) identifying training and communication strategies for health providers, patients, and the community. To inform decisions, we developed an evidence brief, convened a citizens' panel, and conducted a policy dialogue. We interviewed four key decision-makers to assess the impact of the knowledge transfer strategy.
Results: The limit of THC varies according to jurisdictions. There is great uncertainty about the effectiveness and safety of MC products for many conditions. Educational strategies to increase confidence in clinical practice are effective. During the deliberations, citizens highlighted the lack of understandable information as the main barrier to achieving informed decisions, and stakeholders in the policy dialogue discussed the need for guidelines and protocols based on the best available evidence. Policy makers stated that the knowledge transfer strategy was useful in improving regulatory and normative practices. The results of this process served instrumentally to the Ministry of Health to develop the decree 811 of 2021 that regulates the import, export, cultivation, production, and commercialization of the dry flower of cannabis. The process also contributed indirectly to the development of resolution 2808 of 2022 which specifies the indications under which medical cannabis is covered in Colombia, improving safe access to the population.
Conclusions: Knowledge transfer strategies can be useful to inform public policies, but we need better efforts to institutionalize these strategies. There is uncertainty regarding the political factors that must be considered when establishing the THC control limit. High-quality studies are required to answer the questions of effectiveness and safety about MC. To achieve the successful implementation of the regulatory framework and informed decision-making, it is necessary to implement educational strategies and develop clinical guidelines on MC.