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The costs of the dried cannabis flower buds and cannabis extracts will be covered by health insurance for patients who have no other treatment options / Photo: DCI

German parliament legalises marijuana for medical use

The German parliament has voted to allow the use of the drug for medical purposes. The issue had been a point of heated discussion in the country for a long time.

Members of Germany’s parliament Bundestag voted unanimously on Thursday 19 January to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

Seriously ill patients will qualify for medical marijuana if they have no other treatment options or existing treatments are ineffective.

The law allows patients to buy cannabis from their local pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription, and the cost will be covered by the patient’s public health insurance.

Doctors have stated that marijuana can benefit cancer patients who are feeling nauseous after chemotherapy, and it is also believed that the drug helps fight a lack of appetite and the weight loss that some tumour patients experience. Cannabis can additionally alleviate symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

Opposition parties in Germany like the Greens and the Left Party had long fought for legalization.

In countries like France and Canada, as well as in several US states, purchasing cannabis with a prescription is already possible.

The new law allows the domestic cultivation of cannabis by Germany’s Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, which will supply medical marijuana to pharmacies. Until domestic crops are available, Germany plans to import marijuana, likely from the Netherlands.

Germany already allows patients suffering from cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis access to medical marijuana with special approval from the government, but all expenses must be paid by the patient. Approximately 650 Germans have received the necessary permissions, according to the Federal Health Ministry.

Annette Schmitt

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