In a landmark bill, the German parliament last week voted unanimously to legalize medical marijuana.
“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.
That’s correct: Not only will patients be able to access cannabis, the cost will be covered by health insurance for those who have no other treatment options.
Marlene Mortler, Germany’s drug commissioner, fought for the policy to allow patients to purchase cannabis from a pharmacy if they have a doctor’s prescription.
“It’s a great addition for patients who have waited for this a long time,” Mortler said.
The law will limit cannabis sales to patients “in very limited exceptional cases,” including patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic pain, and lack of appetite or nausea related to cancer treatments.
Until the law passed, medical marijuana was available on a rare case-by-case basis. This bill allows patients to get a prescription from their doctor.
“Today is a beautiful day,” said Rainer Hayek, a lawmaker in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party.
Last year, the German government reached an agreement with Canada to import cannabis. Bruce Linton, CEO for Canopy Growth Corp., one of the companies certified to import, said the German market was a strong one.
“This is a very substantial market, and it’s probably the best place to enter the European Union from,” Linton said last year.
Germany joins Austria, Britain, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain on the list of European countries that have legalized some form of cannabis or decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.