Dr. med. Franjo Grotenhermen
This taming, this long legal and political struggle for improvements in the medical care of the population with cannabis products in Germany, was not a comedy such as William Shakespeare’s “Taming Shame”, but was too much of a tragedy for too many.
The fight now lasts almost 20 years and started with a constitutional complaint initiated and financed by the working community Cannabis as medicine e. V. by eight patients on 14 December 1999. The Federal Constitutional Court published on 20 January 2000 a decision according to the patient at the Federal Office of Drugs and Drug Administration (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte), to apply for an exemption for the use of cannabis. More than 100 patients have made use of this. Among them was a lawyer who suffered from multiple sclerosis. All applications were rejected by the Federal Office with the reference to the possibility of the prescription of Dronabinol / THC, which however had to be paid by the patients themselves. Several patients accused these refusals before the administrative courts. On 19 May 2005 the Federal Administrative Court ordered the BfArM to re-examine the request of the MS patient.
Finally, this judgment led to the first exemptions for the use of cannabis extracts and cannabis blossoms. The first permission was issued on August 9, 2007 to a MS patient. Since then, patients have been allowed to apply for an exemption under Article 3 (2) of the Narcotic Drugs Act at the Federal Office, with the aim of medical self-care with cannabis blossoms or a cannabis extract. The treating physician must demonstrate that standard therapies were not sufficiently effective or caused severe side effects, so that a therapy experiment with cannabis products was indicated. Frequently the applicants had already established that a therapy with cannabis alleviated their suffering. According to the Bundesopium, in December 2016 exactly 1004 persons had such a license.
Since many license holders were able to afford the cannabis flowers from the pharmacy, which cost per gram 12-24 €, sometimes more, but not or not to the medically necessary extent, some claimed the self-cultivation of cannabis plants for their own medical care. These applications were all rejected by the Bundespastelle. After the Cologne Administrative Court granted the right to self-cultivation to several applicants in 2014, it was foreseeable that the Federal Administrative Court would remain faithful to its line and provide for a barrier-free access to cannabis products for the federal citizens and if there was no alternative to self-cultivation .
A judgment of the Federal Administrative Court of 6 April 2016 also ensured that an MS patient who was already involved in the constitutional complaint as early as 1999 was the first patient in Germany to be granted permission to cultivate cannabis for his own medical purposes on 28 September 2016 has been.
Parallel to this legal development, there has been an increasing, if not always entirely voluntary, development of all parties represented in the Bundestag with regard to the need to provide patients with access to treatment with cannabis products irrespective of their financial potential. As an alternative to self-cultivation, the Federal Government presented a draft law which stipulated that statutory health insurance funds should be obliged to finance treatment with cannabis products under certain conditions. This draft law was submitted to the Bundestag by the Federal Government on 28 June 2016, where it was discussed on 7 July in the first and on 19 January 2017 in the second and final reading. The law is to enter into force in March 2017, according to the Federal Republic of Germany.