This report has been produced by the EMCDDA as a practical development of its legal database on drugs. Medicinal cannabis is one of the topics in the field of drugs that produces lively debates in the political and scientific arenas. In this brief paper, the EMCDDA looks at the issue of medicinal cannabis and derivatives from a legal viewpoint, both internationally and nationally. The assistance of the ELDD Legal Correspondents has once again been invaluable in the development of this document, and we are especially grateful to Dr Willem Scholten of the Dutch Bureau of Medicinal Cannabis for his advice on scientific matters throughout the drafting process. Information has also been gathered from the final Report and Reader of the International Conference on Medicinal Cannabis, held in the Hague, Netherlands, on 22-23 November 2001, and the European Agency for Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA).