In some of the most significant international cannabis legislation of 2015, Germany approved the creation of a special government agency to oversee the production of medicinal cannabis in the European nation. This progressive move puts the German government in the business of producing and making available high-quality medicinal cannabis via safe access to thousands of its severely ill citizens.
“This paves the way for the first cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Germany,”
wrote the German Hemp Association (Deutscher Hanfverband, or DHV) in a press release, which continued, “[this] helps not only…patients, but allows also new economic prospects for Germany.”
The legislation does not, however, allow individual Germans to grow their own cannabis medicine. It also limits legal availability of cannabis to a very small group of patients, covering only two ailments.
The exact means by which cannabis and possibly cannabis infused products, like concentrates and edibles, will be made available to patients is still unresolved. It is unknown if Germany will adopt a program involving retail outlets, if it will ship cannabis directly to patients, or if it will limit them to gaining access to legal cannabis medicine via a licensed physician or pharmacy.
Germany, which embraces a culture of robust capitalism and self-reliance, views the move as a way to decrease dependence on cannabis imports, and help guarantee a supply of medicine for its patients. A shocking reality of the German program for those in the United States is that it covers the costs of legal cannabis under health insurance for all patients.
Easier Access to Cannabis
Georg Wurth, a spokesperson for the DHV, stated,
“Easier access to cannabis as a medicine and the covering of the costs by the health insurance companies were long overdue.”
Echoing the arguable shortcoming of the legislation, he continued, “The DHV has long argued for the rights of patients to grow their own cannabis medicine.”
German’s drug commissioner, Marlene Mortler, is managing the program to produce and make available cannabis medicine to two primary groups of patients: Terminally ill pain patients and those with hyperactivity disorder. Prior to passage of this legislation, cannabis medicine was imported into Germany from Dutch cultivators in the Netherlands.
The new legislation is an amendment to Germany’s Narcotics Act. This is the first time that the cultivation of cannabis has been under state control in the country known for its engineering and technical prowess that is home to companies like BMW, Bayer, Siemens, and Sennheiser. Political forces in the nation (which — along with the United Kingdom — is typically the largest and healthiest economy in Europe) have been hesitant to allow personal cultivation due to a belief that both the quality and quantity of home grown cannabis could “easily evade state control.”
Will this legislation be the genesis of a more permissive and compassionate legal medical cannabis environment in Germany that will serve more than simply terminally ill pain patients and those suffering from hyperactivity disorder? Currently, the legislation reflects medical cannabis laws in many conservative U.S. states that allow only CBD oil and cover a very limited number of conditions (sometimes only epilepsy or seizure disorders).
Hopefully Germany and its lawmakers will embrace medical cannabis for a wider range of diseases and eventually allow home cultivation so that patients may grow specific strains of pot to best treat their particular symptoms. With more than 1,000 strains having been bred to date, a targeted efficacy approach is critical to best treat severely ill patients with cannabis.
Concluded the DHV:
“Finally, the German economy is not decoupled from international development and can [create] its own cannabis industry.”