Beginning in March, patients in Germany that have obtained a doctor’s prescription will be able to legally purchase cannabis at their local pharmacy.
Members of Germany’s parliament voted unanimously yesterday to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Under the new law, patients that have obtained a doctor’s prescription will be able to legally purchase cannabis extract or dried flower buds from their local pharmacy.
Up until now, cannabis was limited to only certain patients suffering from serious medical conditions. Patients had to be granted special permission from the government, and as The Local reports, only around 1,000 people in a country with a population of 80 million had been able to access the substance.
The new law will allow patients suffering from symptoms or conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, or nausea caused from chemotherapy treatment, to obtain cannabis with a simple prescription.
“Critically ill people must be treated in the best ways possible,” said Health Minister Hermann Gröhe, in a statement following the vote. Gröhe had proposed the law to legalize medical marijuana for all medicinal purposes, chronic or not, last May.
Federal Drug Commissioner Marlene Mortler, who had lobbied for legalized medical marijuana and announced a plan to allow cannabis for chronically ill patients in 2015, was pleased with the results of the vote.
“Cannabis as a medicine is certainly not a medical drug,” Mortler said, according to The Local. “But everyone should have the right to have it paid for when it helps.”
The new law will take effect in March. If it’s found that no other form of treatment is effective, health insurance providers will be required to cover the costs of cannabis treatments, ensuring that every patient regardless of financial means can get access.
“For serious diseases like chronic pain or multiple sclerosis, medicinal cannabis can help alleviate symptoms,” said Parliament State Secretary Ingrid Fishbach, in the statement. “Therefore, it is only logical that future medical cannabis be reimbursed by health insurance.”
The new law will eventually establish rules and regulations to allow for domestic cannabis cultivation. Private companies will be allowed to apply for cultivation and processing approval. Germany approved the creation of a special government agency to oversee the production of medicinal cannabis two years ago, setting the stage for this new comprehensive policy.
Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in October had given special permission to a patient unable to afford to buy medical cannabis to personally cultivate his own, but that individual’s permit will expire once the new law takes effect.
The global attitude regarding marijuana continues to shift rapidly. Over just the past few months, cannabis legalization announcements have been made in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, Turkey, and the Cayman Islands. Canada, with an already established nationwide medical marijuana program, is expected to legalize adult use marijuana later this year.
Mexico, Brazil, and Paraguay have approved Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s Real Scientific Hemp OilTM (RSHOTM), a revolutionary cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil extracted from hemp, for patients as a medical prescription.
In the United States, 28 states currently have legalized medical marijuana programs, and eight have legalized the recreational use of cannabis. RSHOTM is also legally available without a prescription in all 50 U.S. states and 40 countries worldwide.