Belgium has opened up, like many European markets, to the sale of therapeutic cannabis products for patients to get the CBD they need to relax, relieve pain or treat their skin. But consumers have questions and one startup aims to tackle the information point at the idea conjunction in the market, by providing training for pharmacists, the same who they hope will sell their products.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a molecule derived from cannabis. While many people already know about it, others have probably never heard of CBD. And yet, products based on CBD or other cannabis molecules can now be found just about everywhere, including in Belgium. These products are often sold in small quantities without the trader knowing exactly what they are. Worse, these products are also sold on numerous websites with a sometimes dubious origin.
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A lack of information and increasing demand create gap in Belgium’s cannabis market
It was with this in mind that the start-up CBX Medical was created, located in the heart of Belgium’s Charleroi in the Trésignies barracks. There are three entrepreneurs from Belgium behind this young cannabis company: Jonathan Blondiau, Flora Mer and Lionel Quataert.
“All three of us have relatives who lacked information about CBD and who needed it. For example, one of them went to a CBD shop, in Belgium, because he suffers from osteoporosis and the salesman didn’t know what to say. That’s when we thought that these products should be available in pharmacies where you can get advice from a health professional,” explained Jonathan Blondiau.
“Two out of five doctors have already recommended the use of cannabidiol to their patients”
Because CBD and cannabis products are in high demand today, and not just in Belgium. 80 million Europeans use cannabinoids (a family of molecules that act on certain cells in the body and come from cannabis in particular) for curative or preventive purposes. “In Belgium, one in four people use them. There are also two doctors out of five who have already recommended their patients to use cannabidiol and yet there is no such product in pharmacies, so for us it was important that this changes since these products are used to treat oneself,” added Jonathan Blondiau.
Cannabis and CBD use grows in Belgium with effectiveness against several pathologies
CBX Medical now creates several types of products with the help of a scientific committee available to Belgium’s ould-be cannabis consumers. These include gels, oils, and patches. Several pharmacies in the Charleroi region have decided to sell the products created by CBX Medical.
One of these is the pharmacy of Hervé Mees in the Belgian town of Ressaix (Binche): “CBD-based products can be an alternative for certain patients who cannot be treated by conventional therapies. In some cases by using CBD, we see an improvement in their condition.
These products are used to combat stress and anxiety, chronic pain, to heat or cool muscles, and to treat the skin. While the cannabis originally used by CBX Medical comes from Eastern Europe and Switzerland, the CBD-rich products are manufactured in Belgium and undergo all the necessary tests before being marketed.
Fears nevertheless persist in Belgium about CBD and cannabis
Although CBD is becoming more and more known, many people are still unaware of the potential benefits of cannabinoid-based products. Some even fear them, as confirmed by pharmacist Hervé Mees: “Patients are very concerned because they make the link with cannabis, which remains a drug. So we have to reassure them that it’s not cannabis, there’s no dependence.” That’s where the pharmacist’s advice becomes very important.
These products are completely legal since they do not contain THC (editor’s note: the most psychoactive cannabinoid, the euphoric substance that makes you “high”). However, there is still a lack of clarity on the use of CBD oils, even if they are allowed to be sold. Hervé Mees hopes that this vacuum will be quickly resolved: “I think it’s time to be able to legislate correctly on the use of these CBD oils”.
Belgium needs to better train its pharmacists to keep up with the market
Not only do many people in Belgium have questions about CBD-based therapeutic products. Indeed, even some pharmacists remain ill-informed: “This is why we invest in training courses that are accredited, i.e. that pharmacists can follow. They serve to train them in the use of cannabinoids and thus to break down fears and barriers. They will then be able to advise their patients in the best possible way,” explains Jonathan Blondiau.
Today, sales of the products developed in Belgium by the start-up continue to increase. So we could well find more and more of these products in the region’s pharmacies in the months to come.
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First published in rtbf, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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