Proposal would allow treatment of “seriously ill” patients and be covered by health insurance policies.
By OCC Staff
German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe presented draft legislation to relax rules on marijuana use for certain “seriously ill” patients to the cabinet on Wednesday, May 4th. “Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best possible way,” he said.
Gröhe also acknowledged that cannabis was “not an inoffensive substance” and explained that cannabis would be available from pharmacies only by a prescription. That is very different than in legal U.S. States, which allow only a “recommendation” by a physician, and regular pharmacies never engage in cannabis activities in any way.
The law will allow the public health insurance system to cover the cost and also allow for serious research on the plant. That is a major shift in previous policies on medical marijuana and indicate they are taking medical marijuana seriously.
Germany currently allows access to medical marijuana for patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis with special approval from the government, but all expenses must be paid by the patients. Presently, around 5,000 patients take medical cannabis as drops or sprays. Only about 650 Germans have received the necessary government approval for “smoked” flower or extracts.
Also, until specially supervised grows are established, Germany will import “medical marijuana”, minister Gröhe explained. The supply is likely to come from likely from the Netherlands, the ministry indicated. Eventually, oversight will come from the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. They will supply the dried cannabis flowers and extracts to pharmacies.
“Without wishing to pre-judge the work of the Bundestag [lower house of parliament], it is likely that the law will come into force in the spring of 2017,” Gröhe told German daily Die Welt. That approval, however, is expected to be a mere formality he said. He expects the program to be implemented by spring 2017.
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