Germany will legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes by 2017. Cannabis has long been scheduled under the most restrictive category in Germany’s Narcotics Law and the recent proposal ushers an exiting new era for a tightly-regulated sector in Germany.
“Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way,” Germany’s Minister of Health Hermann Groehe told reporters.
Germany doesn’t have its own legal cannabis plantations, so the medical cannabis will have to be imported from other countries for the time being. The bill, “Cannabis as Medicine,” was drafted earlier this year. Under the proposed bill, patients in Germany could obtain cannabis using common health insurance.
The nation already holds a relaxed view of cannabis. A handful of groups have gotten permission from Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices to grow, possess, and use cannabis (and its derivatives) for medical purposes. So-called “exemption licenses” usually allow the patients to import cannabis from the Netherlands.
Germany’s Left party has been busy working on ending the failed War on Drugs.
“The federal government has ceded control of the cannabis market to organized crime and continues to hold on to its failed policy [of prosecuting the use of marijuana],” the party said in a statement.
“Cannabis as medicine? Yes. For fun? No,” retorted Marlene Mortler, Germany’s top drug abuse commissioner. Mortler is a member of the conservative Bavarian party the Christian Socialists (CSU), the main source of opposition against recreational cannabis. Reportedly, Bavaria has the strictest cannabis laws out of any German state. In most cases, getting caught with cannabis in Germany will only get you a slap on the wrist. In Berlin, for instance, 15 grams or less carries no punishment. Under the proposed program, Mortler, serving as drug commissioner, would oversee the implementation of the new regulations.
The proposed program would allow patients with a ADHD and a variety of terminal illnesses to obtain medicine. Patients would be able to obtain flowers with a prescription as well as Dronabinol and Nabilone. Eventually any physician in Germany would be able to prescribe medical cannabis. The program would cover at least 60 different illnesses including psychiatric conditions, appetite loss and nausea. The program would limit a patient to 100 grams per month, but exemptions could be made for certain instances.
Germany began experimenting with limited access to medicinal cannabis in 2005 when the nation’s Supreme Court allowed seven patients to take Dronabinol. The cannabis derivative was rescheduled from Annex II to Annex III for just a handful of patients. There are currently 382 living patients in Germany who have access to Dronabinol. Most of the patients were terminally ill, however, and 42 of the original 424 licensees have passed away. Cannabis is still scheduled under Annex I, which is reserved for drugs with no medical value. The enforcement of The German Narcotics Law varies from state to state.
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