A Russian man being treated with medicinal cannabis cannot be removed from the Netherlands despite a rejected asylum request because the drug is not available in his home country, the EU's Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.
The man developed a rare form of blood cancer at the age of 16 and is currently receiving medical treatment in the Netherlands that includes medicinal cannabis to help relieve his pain.
He had made a number of requests for asylum in the Netherlands but his last one was rejected in 2020.
"He takes the view that he should be issued with a residence permit or, at the very least, his removal should be postponed" since he would "no longer be able to lead a decent life if that treatment was discontinued," the EU's top court said in a statement.
The court ruled that EU law prevents countries from returning non-EU citizens who are staying illegally in the bloc if they are "suffering from a serious illness" and if returning the person to their country would cause "a rapid, significant and permanent increase" in pain.
The court said two conditions must be met: that the pain treatment cannot be administered in the receiving country (in this case Russia) and that the absence of the treatment would lead to "pain of such intensity that it would be contrary to human dignity."
According to the request for a preliminary ruling issued in February 2021, the Russian man had said the medicinal cannabis treatment could relieve the pain by about 70%.
He said that without cannabis he would "not be able to sleep or eat because of the pain" which would make him become "depressed and suicidal".
"The failure to provide pain relief would therefore result in a short-term medical emergency," the request for a ruling continued.