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For First Time, Germany Lets a Patient Grow Cannabis

Following a ruling by the Federal Administrative Court, a single patient in Germany’s medical marijuana program has been given permission to cultivate his own cannabis for personal use.

For the very first time, Germany has given legal permission for a patient to cultivate cannabis for personal use. While Germany does have legal medical marijuana, with currently more than 900 patients that have been approved for the program, its medical regulatory body has up until now required that patients purchase medicinal cannabis from a pharmacy.

Arguing that the monthly costs of medicinal cannabis were too high for him to afford, a multiple sclerosis patient from southwestern Germany, known only as Michael F., filed multiple lawsuits over a 16-year period, seeking permission to grow his own. He needs the medical cannabis to help manage his symptoms, which include spastic paralysis, speech disorders, and depressive disorders, but the costs, which were reportedly around 1,500 euros (approximately $1645 U.S. dollars), were unmanageable.

In April, and in response to the lawsuits, Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled that the government’s medical regulatory body, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), must “allow the claimant to grow cannabis, harvest the drug, and use it for the medical purpose of his treatment.”

The BfArM confirmed this month that on September 28 Michael F. had been awarded a temporary permit to grow up to 20 cannabis plants at a time in his bathroom for strictly personal use. The permit, which is set to expire after June 30, 2017, required him to install a window grating, strengthen the door to his home for security purposes, and store his harvested cannabis in a safe. It is the first time that the agency has approved such a permit.

For the rest of Germany’s medical marijuana patients, not only are they required to purchase cannabis from a pharmacy, but also they must cover the entire cost of the substance, without any assistance from health insurance. According to German news site DW, one gram of medical cannabis costs around $16.85, or 15 euros.

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“This [ruling] is a slap in the face for policymakers who have so far failed to correctly implement the first ruling of the Federal Administrative Court in 2005,” a spokesman for the Association for Cannabis as Medicine said.

A BfArM spokesperson has said that more than 130 applications between mid-March and the end of May were submitted from other patients seeking the same home cultivation authorization awarded to Michael F. None of the applications have been granted permission.

Germany’s medical marijuana law allows for medicinal cannabis for the treatment of several conditions, some of which include cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, HIV or AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, hepatitis C, Crohn’s disease, asthma, arthritis and depression. Patients must seek special authorization to purchase and use the drugs, which as of right now are limited to three types of pharmaceutical cannabis-based drugs.

Earlier this year, however, Health Minister Hermann Gröhe presented draft legislation that would allow pharmacies to sell dried cannabis flower buds and cannabis extracts, and the German federal government and the Bundestag have agreed to implement the new legislation sometime early next year. The new law also calls for health insurance policies to cover the cost. Once the new law is implemented, the permit given to Michael F. to cultivate cannabis will expire.

Learn more about Germany’s cannabis laws on our education page.