Last Thursday, Germany’s lower house of parliament took a major stride towards medical cannabis legislation by passing a measure that will legalize use for chronically ill patients. The draft law states the right to use medicinal marijuana will be granted “in very limited exceptional cases” as a last resort treatment.
Conditions that will allow cannabis treatment include serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, as well as symptoms like loss of appetite and nausea. Prior to passing the new draft bill, applicable German patients had to undergo a strenuous process to gain special authorization to use any kind of medical marijuana.
While the new measure is a step in the right direction for Germany, it specifically forbids patients from growing their own marijuana at home. Instead, patients will have to obtain a prescription from doctors and have the cost refunded by their health insurance fund.
“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,” said Health Minister Hermann Groehe.
The measure was first introduced to the German Bundestag last year, and will also aim to expand research on the medical benefits of the plant. The prosperous European country has been facing an increased presence of cannabis activism over the last few years, which likely influenced parliament’s recent decision to implement this limited medical marijuana system.
Germany's newly approved medical cannabis bill is expected to take effect in March 2017, pending a procedural reading by the upper house of parliament. Once implemented, they will join the ranks of Italy and the Czech Republic as European countries that have helped pioneer more expansive medical cannabis legislation.