Big news from the Associated Press out of Berlin this morning, as lawmakers in Germany passed a bill that would legalize the prescribing of marijuana as a medicine.
The new legislation was approved unanimously early Thursday morning by the lower house of Parliament and will go into effect in March.
This milestone ruling only applies to seriously ill patients, however, and doesn’t legalize any forms of recreational consumption or cultivation. Before the new law was passed, roughly 1,000 German patients had applied for special authorization to use cannabis and been approved, but those numbers should rise significantly.
According to Germany’s Health Minister Hermann Groehe, “Seriously ill people must be cared for in the best way possible” and that includes allowing the public health system to fund cannabis prescriptions for patients “if they cannot effectively be helped any other way.”
Now that cannabis is legal for doctors in Germany to prescribe, the next issue is finding some.
For now, the German Government is saying prescriptions will be filled with cannabis imported from other countries, but as demand escalates they will have to find an alternative solution.
From our German Correspondent Michael Knodt’s article on the increasing need for legal cannabis cultivation in Germany:
The Federal Republic will be letting companies grow medical cannabis on domestic soil in the near future. The new law provides for the establishment of a German Cannabis Agency which will issue state licenses for cultivation and monitor production and distribution channels. Although the agency has not yet been established, many companies have already applied for a license through the BfArM. Insiders consider German-Austrian company Bionorica as a serious potential player in the burgeoning market. The company already cultivates cannabis in Vienna for Dronabinol production together with the Austrian Agency for Health and Nutrition Safety (AGES). Bedrocan does not seem to have any interest in building up facilities in Germany, as the Dutch producer is currently busy on new projects in the Czech Republic and Italy.
The new agency’s rules will likely to be similar to those of the Netherlands, and therefore be very strict. For the production of medical cannabis, minimum requirements such as 100% sterility, accounting for every milligram handled, a financial concept, access to significant starting capital as well as the cooperation of pharmacologists, doctors, government laboratories and various other government authorities.
Cover Image Courtesy of Metro UK