Germany has joined the ranks of Canada and Mexico in announcing definitive actions that will legalize medical marijuana for its citizens within the next year.
On Wednesday, a proposal brought to the table by Health Minister Hermann Gröhe designed to establish a nationwide medical marijuana program received a stamp of approval by the German government. The objective of the measure is to make medicinal cannabis available to seriously ill patients all over the country by creating a system that would allow the herb to be purchased from local drug stores. It would also ensure that weed is covered under health insurance.
“We want to give the best possible care to the seriously ill,” said Gröhe in a press statement.
Germany’s medical marijuana program will not be as loose as some of those we have grown accustom to seeing implemented in the United States. The medicine will only be available to patients suffering from serious conditions (cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Parkinson’s diseases, etc.) for which no other treatment has been effective. Furthermore, anyone interested in petitioning the government for permission to participate in the program would first need to secure a recommendation from a doctor that specifically indicates that cannabis is a last resort.
Although not a perfect plan, the proposal is a step up from the country’s previous policy on medical marijuana. For years, patients seeking access to cannabis treatment have been required to obtain special permission from the government, and pay for the medicine out of their own pockets, if approved. However, Health Minister Gröhe says that hundreds of citizens a month have been applying for permits to use cannabis medicine, suggesting a desperate need for a more mainstream policy.
Unfortunately, the new program would not come with a provision for home cultivation — so approved patients would be forced to use the German government’s marijuana in order to remain in compliance with the law. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices would be responsible for the cultivation of distribution of medical marijuana, but Gröhe says the nation plans to import the herb “until government-controlled cultivation can be established.”
While Germany’s parliament – The Bundestag – is expected to vote on the medical marijuana program in the near future, this action is said to be more of a formality. Health Minister Gröhe said that while he could not predict the exact outcome of the vote, “it is likely that the law will come into force in the spring of 2017.”
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