German Health Minister announced the introduction of legislation that will legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients next year.
Germany announced on May 4th that it will legalize medical marijuana by 2017. Health Minister Hermann Gröhe introduced the legislation to the German cabinet that would legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients who have no other viable treatment options.
“Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best way possible,” Gröhe said.
The legislation will allow patients with a prescription from their doctor to access dried cannabis and its extracts from drug stores. Additionally, a patient’s medical marijuana will be covered by health insurance.
Currently, seriously ill patients diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis have to apply for special approval from the government, and patients have to pay for their medication out of pocket. As of April, only 647 people have been given access to medical marijuana. That is out of a total population of 80 million people in Germany, the EU’s most populous country.
As part of the new legislation, Germany also intends to perform clinical trials into the safety and efficacy of medical marijuana. This research is critical to better understanding the health benefits of cannabis. However, as stated in the draft of the legislation, all medical marijuana patients will be made to participate in the research as a condition for reimbursement for their medication.
Germany intends to grow all its medical cannabis on specially approved farms. Until that is possible, marijuana for the program will be imported into Germany.
Compared to many of its neighbors, Germany has a relatively strict set of cannabis laws. Even hemp cultivation was banned for a period in the 1980’s and 90’s before pressure from farmers and scientists caused a change in policy. Even as small a step as availability for seriously ill patients is touted as an achievement in the face of current restrictions, but it is a far cry from complete access for patients.
One of the stipulations for medical cannabis in Germany is that the patient has exhausted all other treatment options. For some patients, that leaves them lacking the ability to choose the best treatment for themselves or, at worst, forces them to accept harsh treatments. Additionally, the time frame for launching the new program will leave many waiting a year or more to find adequate treatment.
The global attitude towards marijuana is changing rapidly, as evidenced with countries like Mexico, Canada, and Germany updating their marijuana policies to match popular opinion. Closer to home, 24 states currently have legalized medical marijuana programs. In addition, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of cannabis as well.
Despite this growth in marijuana access, many still find themselves outside the range of medical marijuana policies. In conservative environments, where laws are slower to change, non-psychoactive CBD oil products, such as hemp-based Real Scientific Hemp Oil™, may be considered as alternatives in the future.