On Thursday, 19th Jan, Germany began its journey towards legalising medicinal cannabis.
Germany’s lower house of parliament passed the bill legalising the production, sale and use of medicinal cannabis.
However, patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis “in very limited exceptional cases” and they will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis, according to the bill.
Those included under this definition will be those patients suffering from more “serious illnesses” such as chronic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and a lack of appetite or nausea related to cancer treatments.
Germans who fall under this category may even be able to have their medicinal cannabis prescribed under their health insurance.
The German health minister, Hermann Groehe, told Reuters: “Those who are severely ill need to get the best possible treatment and that includes health insurance funds paying for cannabis as a medicine for those who are chronically ill if they can’t be effectively treated any other way.”
While the bill is a step forwards in the right direction, there are quite restrictive elements in the details. Medical cannabis will only be prescribed as a “last resort,” and patients will be forbidden, for now, from growing their own. Instead, patients will have to obtain a prescription from doctors and then have the cost refunded by their health insurance fund.
The newly approved medical cannabis bill is expected to take effect later this year in March, pending a procedural reading by the upper house of parliament.