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Kai-Friedrich Niermann has a really good update on the potential for legal cannabis here in Germany…….news on the “Jamaica Coalition” is expected within hours,……..more later. – Phil

https://www.kfnplus.de/jamaica-current-german-coalition-and-cannabis-control-act/#comment-2

Jamaica [Current German Coalition) and Cannabis Control Act

Annotation on practical implementation by Kai-Friedrich Niermann, Attorney, Paderborn [Germany]

Let‘s say the coalition partners part this evening and determine the uptake of coalition negotiations. And let us furthermore assume The Green Party with tie-in of FDP achieve Cannabis liberalisation in full as well as pushing through their Cannabis Control Act in the negotiations going on from mid December until shortly before Christmas. And also let’s assume the Cannabis Incorporate Act is then voted in by Bundestag in May or June [2018]; then Germany will be faced with even more massive changes and the latter in various sectors.

The Cannabis Law includes the option of applications for cultivation licences (farming), wholesale trade licences as well as retail licences such as specialist shops. In addition to this import and export licences can be applied for. Expert prior knowledge is not required and simply personal trustworthiness as demanded within public-houses law is stipulated. Business owners must not have previous convictions.

Assuming a conservative estimate of 10 t of Cannabis per week being consumed in Germany this results in an annual demand of 520 t. The production of Cannabis is deemed to result in a harvest of 440 g per m² within a harvest cycle of 52 days which allows for 7 harvests per year. To cover 107% consumption of Germany an acreage of 180.000 m² would be prerequisite.

Breaking down and allocating these figures to an average municipality such as Paderborn with a population of 140.000 this would result in a required cultivation acreage of 307 m².

With the scheduled Cannabis Control Act tax of 4€/g provided by statute, 1€/g for production costs, 2€/g for wholesale trade and also 3 €/g for specialist shops this results in a price of 10€ in total per gram which is equivalent to the current black market price. It will be a balancing act not to drive the price to high to enable draining the black market effectively as intended.

For Paderborn alone and at this retail price it would amount to a turnover for cultivation/farming of approx. 890.000 €, 1,8 million € for the wholesale trade and 2,6 million € for specialist shops.

However the Cannabis Control Act provides for numerous regulations as to Quality Assurance, protection of production lines, safeguarding of youth protection and prevention. Consequently production facilities must be secured with fences and alarm systems. Transport of Cannabis is governed by specified security restrictions, the specialist shops must train their personnel and deliver proof for consistent follow-up trainings as well as a substantial social concept. Also packaging has to be secured to a high extent and must feature comprehensive warning and reconnaissance information.

It remains doubtful that the current illegal Cannabis producers will meet these requirements in full and step out from illegality. For this reason it is to be expected that capital investors who with their capacity are able to administer the task more economically will edge into the market.

Then within the 2nd half of 2018 the race for the desired licences for farming, wholesale trade, import, export and specialist retailers would begin.

Restrictions as to numbers of licence permits are not scheduled within Cannabis Control Act so any desired number of farming facilities or specialist retailers could operate. Indeed we may assume that the Authorities will initially be totally snowed under and will authorise thoroughly drawn up applications at first which are based on convincing technical programmes and a business plans.

Any potentially interested party striving to be a player in this new and strictly regulated market is to focus on the new situation just in time and develop technical and operational concepts, investment concepts as well as calculations of overall return on investment as well as liquidity calculations. And just in time could „slip into gear“ as from tomorrow morning!

RA Kai-Friedrich Niermann

http://www.kfnplus.de

k@kfnplus.de

+491773108923

Jamaika und das Cannabiskontrollgesetz

English Version

Einige Anmerkungen zur praktischen Umsetzung, von Rechtsanwalt Kai-Friedrich Niermann (Paderborn)

Nehmen wir einmal an, die Jamaika-Koalitionäre gehen heute Abend auseinander und beschließen die Aufnahme von Koalitionsverhandlungen. Nehmen wir weiter an, dass die Grünen im Verbund mit der FDP es schaffen, die vollständige Freigabe von Cannabis zu erreichen und ihr Cannabiskontrollgesetz in den Verhandlungen von Mitte Dezember bis kurz vor Weihnachten durchbringen. Nehmen wir weiter an, dass das Cannabiskontrollgesetz dann vom Bundestag im Mai oder Juni beschlossen wird, dann stehen Deutschland große Änderungen und in vielen Bereichen noch größere Herausforderungen bevor.

Das Cannabisgesetz sieht die Möglichkeit der Beantragung von Anbaulizenzen, Großhandelslizenzen sowie Einzelhandelslizenzen, sogenannte Fachgeschäfte, vor. Ferner können Einfuhr und Ausfuhrlizenzen beantragt werden. Besondere Vorkenntnisse sind nicht erforderlich, es muss lediglich die üblicherweise zu verlangende Zuverlässigkeit, wie im Gaststättenrecht zum Beispiel, vorliegen und beim Geschäftsinhaber dürfen keine einschlägigen Vorstrafen bestehen.

Geht man nach konservativen Schätzungen davon aus, dass pro Woche 10 t Cannabis in Deutschland konsumiert werden, ergibt dies einen Jahresbedarf von 520 t. In der Produktion von Cannabis geht man davon aus, dass ein m² einen Ertrag von 440 g erbringen kann, was bei einem Erntezyklus von 52 Tagen ca. 7 Ernten pro Jahr ermöglicht. Man benötigt also allein 180.000 m² reine Anbaufläche, um dem Bedarf von Deutschland zu 107% zu decken.

Bricht man diese Zahlen auf eine durchschnittliche Kommune wie Paderborn mit einer Einwohnerzahl von 140.000 herunter, ergäbe dies eine benötigte Anbaufläche von 307 m². Bei einer im Cannabiskontrollgesetz vorgesehenen Steuer von 4 €, bei Produktionskosten von 1 €, bei Kosten für den Großhandel von 2 € sowie bei Kosten für die Fachgeschäfte von 3 € pro Gramm ergebe sich ein Grammpreis von insgesamt 10 €, der dem Preis auf dem derzeitigen Schwarzmarkt entspricht. Der Spagat wird sein, den Preis nicht zu hoch zu treiben, um auch tatsächlich, wie beabsichtigt den Schwarzmarkt austrocknen zu können.

Allein für Paderborn ergebe sich bei diesem Verkaufspreis ein Umsatz beim Anbau in Höhe von ca. 890.000 €, beim Großhandel von 1,8 Millionen €, und bei den Fachgeschäften von 2,6 Millionen €.

Das Cannabiskontrollgesetz sieht allerdings zahlreiche Vorschriften bezüglich der Qualitätssicherung, der Sicherung der Produktionsanlagen, der Sicherung des Jugendschutzes und der Prävention vor. So müssen die Produktionsanlagen mit Zäunen und Alarmanlagen gesichert werden, der Transport von Cannabis unterliegt bestimmten Sicherheitsauflagen, die Fachgeschäfte müssen ihr Personal am Beginn schulen und regelmäßige Nachfolgeschulungen nachweisen sowie ein umfangreiches Sozialkonzept erstellen. Ferner müssen die Verpackungen umfangreich gesichert und mit zahlreichen Warn- und Aufklärungshinweisen gestaltet werden.

Ob es für die zahlreichen, bisher illegalen Cannabisproduzenten möglich sein wird, diese Anforderungen in Gänze zu erfüllen und aus der Illegalität herauszutreten, bleibt zu bezweifeln. Es ist daher zu erwarten, dass große Investoren mit größeren Anlagen auf den Markt drängen werden, die allein aufgrund ihrer Kapazität in der Lage sind, kostengünstiger zu wirtschaften.

Sodann würde im 2. Halbjahr 2018 ein Wettlauf um die begehrten Lizenzen für Anbau, Großhandel, Import, Export und Fachhandel beginnen. Eine zahlenmäßige Beschränkung der Erlaubnisse ist vom Cannabiskontrollgesetz nicht vorgesehen, es können also beliebig viele Anbauflächen oder Fachgeschäfte betrieben werden. Allerdings ist davon auszugehen, dass die Behörden zunächst völlig überlastet sind und die Anträge zuerst genehmigen, die vollständig ausgearbeitet sind und denen ein in technischer und betriebswirtschaftlicher Hinsicht überzeugendes Konzept zu Grunde liegt.

Es ist somit allen Interessenten, die in diesem neuen, strikt regulierten Markt agieren wollen, sich rechtzeitig auf die neue Situation einzustellen und bereits jetzt technische Betriebskonzepte, Investitionskonzepte und Rendite- und Liquiditätsberechnungen zu entwickeln. Die Zeit könnte ab morgen früh zu laufen beginnen.

RA Kai-Friedrich Niermann
http://www.kfnplus.de
k@kfnplus.de
+491773108923

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The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview MEDICINAL CANNABIS

https://sensiseeds.com/en/blog/situation-medicinal-cannabis-europe-complete-overview/

Sativex and Bedrocan are now available in many European countries, and several have infrastructure in place to supply patients with medicinal cannabis. So which countries are moving with the times, and which are dragging their heels? Where are medicinal and recreational users most (and least) free to utilize their drug of choice? Let’s take a look at the facts.

While there is plenty of accurate, up-to-date information online about medicinal cannabis in Europe, finding one reliable source to tell you everything you need to know can be an all-but-impossible task. So we’ve collated hundreds of online resources – news reports, analysis by governments and NGOs, and patient perspectives – in order to create a complete overview of the status of medicinal cannabis in Europe.

We have striven for clarity and accuracy in all respects, but we recognise the fact that legislative waters can at times be murky and misinterpretations can be made. Added to this, legislation is changing rapidly, so we’ll be adding updates every three months or more if necessary. Thus, we welcome any comments, feedback, or corrections – and your input will help us to make this a truly interactive resource that will continue to be relevant for many years to come!

Medicinal Cannabis Legality & Availability In Europe

The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview

This map shows the general state of medicinal cannabis legality and availability in Europe. All countries that have passed medicinal cannabis laws, that have approved whole-plant cannabis or cannabis-based drugs, or that make cannabis/cannabis-based drugs available in some form are marked green.

At first glance, the situation looks relatively good in the majority of European nations. However, we need a little more analysis to really get a clear picture, as medicinal cannabis laws and praxis vary wildly between countries.

Some countries that have passed laws supposedly allowing for the provision of medicinal cannabis do not actually permit anyone to use it; other countries do prescribe certain cannabis derivatives or synthetic cannabinoids, but do not allow whole-plant cannabis, while others have relatively relaxed laws that allow for personal medicinal cultivation, cannabis social clubs that supply medicinal users, and a range of different prescription medications.

Some of the countries marked in green don’t actually have medicinal cannabis laws at all, and haven’t approved any existing cannabis-based drugs, but still make medicinal cannabis or cannabis-based drugs available to certain patients under special access rules. In these countries, the national health authorities usually import the drugs on a strictly-limited, case-by-case basis. Obviously they are not ideal systems, but if laws have been passed or if there are patients receiving cannabis drugs or derivatives in those countries, then they get included in the green section of the map.

If you wish to know more about the cannabis-based drugs that are available in Europe today, please take a look at our post Cannabinoids in medicine – an overview for doctors and professionals, published in March 2016.

Sativex Availability In Europe

The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview

First, let’s take a look at Sativex availability. Although controversial, Sativex has won considerable success in gaining approval in much of Europe and in many other countries worldwide. The reasons for controversy surrounding Sativex are manifold.

Many activists and patients believe that licensing and regulating Sativex while cannabis itself remains illegal (as is now the case in the majority of Europe) is unfair and discriminatory, particularly given that it is a whole-plant extract and thus is essentially cannabis (unlike synthetic, single-molecule drugs like nabilone and dronabinol, which we will discuss later).

These issues are further compounded by the fact that Sativex is prohibitively expensive and inconsistently available in many countries. In the UK, Sativex is only available on the NHS in Wales. In August 2014, the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) recommended that Sativex could be prescribed on the NHS (meaning that costs would be borne by the health authorities with just a small nominal charge to the patient) in Wales for treating MS-related spasticity.

However, the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) did not recommend prescription of Sativex in England in their 2014 MS Clinical Guideline “because it is not a cost effective treatment”.

In April 2011, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC – the Scottish equivalent to NICE) also announced that it was unable to recommend Sativex, as it had not received a marketing authorisation submission from GW Pharmaceuticals. Thus, patients in England and Scotland wishing to obtain Sativex must “go private” and cover all costs themselves.

A similar pricing issue exists in France, where authorities approved Sativex back in 2013, but have yet to agree a sale price with GW Pharmaceuticals’ European distributor, Almirall. Sensi Seeds reported in December 2015 that Sativex was still not available in France, and that there was little likelihood that it would be available in the near future.

In Finland, Denmark and Norway, Sativex is available on a strictly-limited, case-by-case basis, and is prohibitively expensive compared to other forms of medicinal cannabis. However, the situation in Finland has improved significantly over the last few years (since medicinal cannabis laws were passed in 2008); the number of patients receiving medical cannabis in the form of Sativex or Bedrocan products rose from just 12 in 2010 to around 200 in 2014.

In Ireland and Malta, Sativex has technically been approved but never prescribed – in Ireland, pricing issues have delayed the release of Sativex, while in Malta, the sole application received thus far was recently rejected by the health authorities.

GW Pharmaceuticals’ near-monopoly on legal medicinal cannabis allows it to profit significantly, while individuals growing personal quantities of cannabis continue to be criminalised throughout much of Europe. Many individuals that grow cannabis in small quantities intended for personal medicinal use do so as it presents the only truly affordable option. That these individuals continue to be persecuted for reasons that appear to be solely economic is a dire failure on the part of the national and supranational authorities of Europe.

Marinol/Cesamet Availability In Europe

The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview

Nabilone and dronabinol, marketed as Marinol and Cesamet (or Canemes in some countries), are two single-molecule, synthetic THC analogues that have also gained approval in many European countries. Generally, they are approved for nausea, vomiting and weight loss related to cancer and HIV.

As synthetic, single-molecule drugs, nabilone and dronabinol are of limited effectiveness, and are also associated with more severe side-effects than cannabis itself. Several countries have allowed use of nabilone and dronabinol while continuing to prohibit use of medicinal cannabis itself, such as Denmark, which has approved thousands of applications for Marinol in the last decade but none for Bedrocan.

Dronabinol and nabilone were developed over 30 years ago, and have never been particularly popular with either patients or healthcare professionals. Although they have been prescribed to many more patients than Sativex at this stage, there are clear signs that Sativex is now taking over in terms of availability, acceptability and popularity. This surely represents a step in the right direction, towards recognition of the superior medicinal value of whole-plant cannabis over single-molecule, synthetic therapies.

In Germany, nabilone and dronabinol are both apparently still available on prescription, but since 1991, they have not been available on the open market as finished medicinal products (i.e. they are not pre-packaged and available for purchase from pharmacies).

Interestingly, dronabinol is scheduled under international law, as it is a stereoisomer of THC, whereas nabilone is not scheduled as its molecular structure differs from true cannabinoids substantially. In Iceland, for example, dronabinol is technically banned, but has been exempted and authorized for use in special cases by the Icelandic Medicines Agency. Nabilone is not subject to a ban – but each drug has only been prescribed in a tiny number of cases, under special access rules.

Bedrocan Availability In Europe

The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview

Countries that permit the use of Bedrocan (or other products from the same manufacturer, i.e. Bediol, Bedrobinol and so on) are much more limited, and in most cases, the medicine can only be imported on a case-by-case basis by the national health authority of the country in question.

As Bedrocan products are whole-plant, herbal cannabis flowers, countries that allow its use would seem to be the more progressive of the European countries with regards to cannabis use. In reality, the situation is a little more complex.

Bedrocan products are considered preferable to Sativex for various reasons, but dissatisfaction among patients remains. In Norway and Finland, for example, Bedrocan products may only be imported on a strict case-by-case basis with approval from the national health authority. They represent a comparatively inexpensive option – in Finland, Sativex reportedly costs €650 for three spray bottles containing 810mg THC and 750mg CBD in total; equivalent total cannabinoids can be obtained from Bedrocan products costing €200 or less.

However, very few individuals actually have access to Bedrocan (in Finland: 123 in 2012, though numbers are likely to have risen since then), and the number of conditions for which it can be prescribed is greatly limited.

Bedrocan in the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, Bedrocan became the sole licensed medicinal cannabis producer in 2003, with the implementation of the 2001 law purportedly legalizing cannabis for medicinal use – which also saw the creation of the Dutch Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC).

But prior to this, medicinal cannabis (reportedly cheaper and more effective) was available from at least one other supplier (Maripharm BV, a company that is now restricted to making CBD-only products) and utilized by thousands more patients, who were prescribed cannabis by their doctors and obtained their medicine directly from over 1,000 different pharmacies. This situation wasn’t legal, but it was tolerated, and it appears to have been greatly preferable for patients.

In 2001, the OMC was established (according to UN treaty rules, a country must establish an office to oversee medicinal cannabis if it wishes to make it available), and in 2003, the new medicinal policy was implemented. But it may have had the effect of making medicinal cannabis less available to Dutch patients – according to the BSEMC (the Public Interest Foundation for Effective Medical Cannabis), 10,000–15,000 patients used medicinal cannabis each year under the old system compared to just 140 each year between 2003 and 2013.

A study from the University of Utrecht published in 2013 puts the figure considerably higher, at approximately 1,000 per year; we are currently awaiting figures from the OMC itself, and will update as soon as the information becomes available.

Patient concerns regarding Bedrocan products are not limited to availability or cost, however – all Bedrocan products are treated with gamma radiation to ensure pesticides, heavy metals and microorganisms are purged out. This is a requirement of the OMC, but has caused concerns over effectiveness and safety in some patients, and led many to purchase cannabis from coffeeshops in preference to pharmacy products. This video report from the Cannabis News Network goes into great detail on the subject of Bedrocan and medicinal cannabis legislation in the Netherlands.

Furthermore, as Sensi Seeds reported earlier this year, Bedrocan is struggling to provide other European countries with sufficient product. As the sole supplier of medicinal cannabis in Europe, demand for their services is rising rapidly, to the extent that a new production facility was opened in 2015 – but supply bottlenecks continue to occur.

European National Programs For Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation

In a small number of European countries, the national government has taken the stance that state control and regulation of the medicinal cannabis market is the sensible route forward. Ostensibly, these state-run programs have the advantage of offering cannabis to registered patients at a lower rate than currently-available forms.

Presently, the only European nations implementing state-controlled medicinal cannabis production are Italy, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. As already discussed, the Netherlands has awarded the sole license to produce medicinal cannabis to Bedrocan BV. Germany is now discussing plans to implement a similar program, but it is not thought that this will be in effect until at least 2017.

Here, we do not class the UK among countries producing medicinal cannabis, despite GW Pharmaceuticals’ license to grow cannabis and manufacture Sativex, as Sativex is not distributed as whole-plant, herbal cannabis flowers (and is not widely available in the UK).

In the Czech Republic, the logistics company Elkoplast is licensed to produce medicinal cannabis using Bedrocan strains and expertise. According to reports, Elkoplast distributed its first crop of 11 kg in February 2016; the cost of the Elkoplast cannabis is apparently around 100 Koruna (€3.70) per gram (compared to around 300 Koruna/€11 for imported Bedrocan). Elkoplast intends to produce 40 kg this year.

Last year, doctors registered to prescribe medicinal cannabis in the Czech republic (who currently number around 20) supplied cannabis to just 30 patients. It is thought that patients numbers will increase significantly with the implementation of the new system. Medicinal cannabis only became legal in the Czech Republic in 2013, so progress has been comparatively rapid to date.

In Italy, the army recently completed its first crop of cannabis intended for distribution to patients with a doctor’s prescription for medicinal cannabis. The Army plans to grow 100 kg this year – which is reportedly around double the quantity currently imported from the Netherlands, and regional health authorities aim to distribute it for €5–€15 per gram, compared to approximately €40 per gram for Bedrocan.

Interestingly, any doctor in Italy may prescribe medicinal cannabis to a patient – this situation differs dramatically from many other European nations, where cannabis may only be prescribed by specialists such as neurologists and oncologists. Furthermore, numbers of doctors willing to prescribe cannabis appears to be relatively high, and patient interest is rapidly growing.

On the other hand, this latter fact is known partially through the reported high volume of applications to import Bedrocan products made by Italian patients to the Dutch OMC. The Army crop is yet to be distributed, and the process has been subject to several delays thus far. However, Italy is demonstrating a very progressive attitude despite remaining mired in logistical difficulties, and the extent of progress here is highly encouraging.

State Control Of Cannabis May Not Be Ideal
Typically, the element of state control involved in such programs is simply licensing out the right to grow medicinal cannabis to a single producer. This is far from ideal, for various reasons: supply issues such as those experienced by Bedrocan and a lack of competition on price, quality and variety are commonly cited potential problems.

In Italy, state control of the production of cannabis does not exist alongside the right to cultivate personal quantities of cannabis, as is the case in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. It was widely reported in January 2016 that cultivation of medical cannabis had been decriminalised in Italy, but it does not appear that this is entirely accurate.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in January announced a long list of minor reforms, including the lifting of criminal penalties for violations of medical cannabis cultivation rules. However, it appears that this only applies to researchers or individuals “working in the field of medicinal cannabis”, and not to the general public.

Thus, the Italian system has been criticized as just another half-measure, which monopolizes potential profits and deprives patients of choice and anonymity. There are also doubts over whether the amount of cannabis produced by the army will be sufficient to meet patient needs, and as Italy operates on a regional healthcare system, some are concerned that the cost of state-produced cannabis will vary widely between locales. Reportedly, the crop will also be gamma-irradiated, which may raise similar concerns as in the Netherlands.

However, the next few years will continue to see decisive change in Italy. Currently, the Italian Parliament is holding talks on the possibility of implementing further steps towards both medicinal and recreational legalization of cannabis. Talks are still ongoing, and we will update this resource when the results of the discussions become clear.

The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview

Personal Cultivation Laws In Europe

The decriminalisation of personal cultivation is a very useful metric for establishing the level of tolerance a country holds towards the concept of medicinal cannabis.

Cultivation of cannabis by the general public is illegal in all European countries. However, a handful of nations have decriminalised or depenalised personal cultivation or personal cultivation for medicinal purposes; several other countries have taken steps towards decriminalisation or are in the process of implementing recently-passed laws, and several more have established precedents whereby medicinal growers have avoided criminal charges despite national laws.

Another thing to consider is the fact that many European countries have a disconnect between legislation and practice when it comes to personal possession and cultivation. Many countries operate unofficial tolerance policies that are at odds with their actual legislation; this is extremely difficult to assess due to the fact that these policies are unofficial, meaning that records may not be kept, and also that policies may change at any time without necessarily being backed up by legislation.

Thus, it’s very hard to be 100% accurate on the places where you can easily get away with growing a few plants, and we’ve done our best to clarify the picture with the information that we have available.

Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Belgium are undoubtedly the most tolerant of cannabis cultivation by the public, and generally have legislation in place that confirms or protects the right of the individual to grow a certain number of plants (in the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, up to 5 plants, and in Belgium just one plant).

In Spain, there is no legislation that specifies that cannabis cultivation is permitted, but laws that attest to the right to possess and consume any drug in private, and a substantial set of legal precedents that have mounted up over the last 20 years or so. In 1993, the precursor to what would become cannabis social clubs sprang into existence, using the existing laws on drug possession to argue that collective, private cannabis-growing associations should also therefore be legal. After many years of challenging and disrupting the project, authorities eventually ceased their persecution and allowed the operation to proceed unhindered, opening the door to hundreds more clubs.

The UK is also an interesting case. Home-growing of cannabis is very widespread in the UK, and thousands of individuals grow for medicinal purposes. There have been several examples of individuals being treated very lightly or even escaping cultivation charges altogether after demonstrating medical need, while countless others continue to be criminalized across the country.

This discrepancy partly exists due to the uneven prioritisation of cannabis between different regional police forces – indeed, several UK police forces have reportedly implemented unofficial tolerance policies for cannabis growers due to the undoubted need to free up resources to tackle more serious crimes.

Switzerland has had a somewhat patchy record on cultivation rights – due to a legal loophole, Swiss citizens were from 1995-1999 allowed to cultivate “hemp” with no specified maximum THC limit, and even after the law was amended, shops continued to sell cannabis until at least 2005. Now, the law does not support personal cultivation, but reports of personal growers being prosecuted are extremely rare.

Several other countries have made some steps towards decriminalisation, such as removing jail sentences and imposing fines or administrative charges – such as the island nation of Malta, which recently passed laws decriminalising the cultivation of personal quantities of cannabis. However, it is not clear how these new laws will be implemented in reality.

Lastly, Sweden, Germany, and Bulgaria have all established precedents whereby medicinal growers have escaped prosecution.

Cannabis Social Clubs In Europe

The small number of European states that have decriminalised personal cultivation and also permit cannabis social clubs are arguably the most tolerant of all, although no country is without its problems. For the most part, social clubs have sprung up in countries that already had a strong subculture of cannabis use, and serve as a means of ensuring quality, safety and consistency relative to the black market.

It is important to note that cannabis social clubs are not an arbitrary concept by any means. In order to be recognized by ENCOD (the European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies, which has played a fundamental role in the creation of social clubs throughout Europe), would-be CSCs must meet various requirements.

The club must be a legally registered association, and therefore accountable to local and national authorities. Furthermore, the ENCOD code of conduct for CSCs sets out five basic principles:

The club only produces cannabis for the personal consumption of its members.
The club is health oriented: in production & elaboration the norms of organic agriculture are adhered too.
The purpose of the club is not to make profit, but to support activism that seeks to bring to an end to cannabis prohibition.
The club is transparent to its members and open to dialogue with authorities.
Furthermore, the club has agreed to accept the mediation of Encod should a conflict arise with one of its members or with another CSC.
If a CSC does not meet these requirements, ENCOD will not recognize the club as a legal, official entity. Despite this, there are many CSCs currently operating (particularly in Spain) without official recognition from ENCOD.

In Spain, the original birthplace of the cannabis social clubs, the situation is complex. The system is generally working well, and cannabis is widely and cheaply available, but the country is not without its problems.

Although clubs are meant to be run on a non-profit basis, the potential to make substantial quantities of money has attracted many would-be entrepreneurs that do not necessarily prioritise patient well-being. Furthermore, contraventions of health and safety regulations and similar petty violations have presented authorities in Barcelona and elsewhere with the opportunity to close down hundreds of venues.

ENCOD currently recognises CSCs in just four countries: two in Belgium, seven in Spain, one in the Netherlands, and one in Slovenia. The Slovenia Cannabis Social Club is officially registered with the local authorities, and interviews suggest that they may be supplying their medical patients with cannabis – but Slovenian law does not yet support medicinal cultivation of cannabis by the public, despite a 2014 law allowing for the supply of medicinal cannabinoids.

Other countries are hard at work setting up the foundations of what will become official CSCs as soon as legislation allows it. These countries include the UK, Austria, France and Germany.

UKCSC.co.uk supplies a long list of “official” UK cannabis social clubs, some of which apparently do supply their members with cannabis – but it is important to note that, as the UK laws do not yet support personal cultivation, these clubs are not offically recognized by ENCOD. However, it is an important and rapidly growing network, which provides much-needed support and information to its members, as well as to the media, the government, and the interested public.

So Which Countries Are Most & Least Tolerant?

The Situation With Medicinal Cannabis In Europe – A Complete Overview

As we see, when we account for all the different variables, many of the countries that supposedly make medicinal cannabis available do not in fact do so, and in fact are no more advanced in practice than the countries that have thus far refused to consider the concept at all.

So we’ve rated all the countries in Europe on a scale of most to least tolerant, with 0 as the least tolerant and 24 as the most.

Unsurprisingly, the countries that are clearly the most favourable for medicinal cannabis in Europe are the Netherlands, Spain and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is perhaps the most striking in the alacrity with which it has diverged from its Soviet legacy and embraced modern, progressive drug policies which put it at the forefront of Europe.

These three powerhouses are closely followed by Germany and Italy, which are rapidly making progress, and Belgium, which has an inconsistent attitude to cannabis but many patients that are currently able to access or grow their own medicine.

Which Countries Are Most Hostile To Medicinal Cannabis?

Next we have countries that are making some progress, but have not yet made medicinal cannabis available beyond a small number of limited cases, or remain generally hostile to the necessary legislative changes. Such countries include France, Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, the Baltic states, and all of the Scandinavian nations.

Russia persists in its draconian drug policies, despite some recent, erroneous reports to the contrary. Medicalmarijuana.eu and MERCY state that Russia has decriminalised the cultivation of up to 20 plants for personal use, but upon closer investigation it appears that this is not the case: any amount of cultivation may lead to criminal charges, but 20 plants or more is considered a “large amount”.

Greece is arguably one of the most hostile countries in today’s Europe, as it aggressively criminalizes growers of all types, and does not recognise the concept of medicinal cannabis at all. Indeed, but for a few exceptions, the Balkan region remains locked in deeply regressive drugs policies.

Portugal remains surprisingly hostile to medicinal cannabis, despite its famous decision in 2001 to decriminalise personal quantities of all drugs. France too has persisted in hostile and regressive attitudes towards cannabis for years, and medicinal cannabis is very difficult to access.

The microstates San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein have made very little movement towards legalizing medicinal cannabis. For residents of Andorra, at least, medicinal cannabis may be easily accessed just a short distance away in Catalunya.

And Which Countries Are A Good Future Bet?

Countries that have made substantial progress, but still need a lot of work put in before medicinal cannabis becomes widely available include Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. Poland is another, but recent reports suggest that the situation is set to improve considerably in the near future.

Malta, which has only just legalized medicinal cannabis in any form, is a surprising candidate. The small island nation has a thriving subculture of cannabis use; personal cultivation has just been decriminalised, and several forms of medicinal cannabis have been made nominally available (although a recent report tells us that they have thus far rejected their sole application (for Sativex) as it was not prescribed by a “specialist”).

Also worth noting here are Eastern European several countries that have only recently begun to diverge from the hardline Soviet attitude towards drugs that still persists throughout the region. Several of these countries – such as Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Serbia – are exhibiting increasingly tolerant attitudes towards cannabis, and as such we may see considerable progress in this area in the near future. Croatia and Macedonia have both made headlines this year for implementing medicinal cannabis laws; Serbia and Slovenia have also recently legalized cannabis-based derivatives, although activists have criticised this as a placatory half-measure.

Finally, the UK has a strong base of activists and growers, but has experienced a string of governments that remain surprisingly hostile to cannabis. However, the strong grower/activist base coupled with the comprehensive network of regional cannabis social clubs that are taking shape indicate that change is imminent. On the other hand, uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote may well see the question of cannabis legalisation pushed to the back of the queue, as it has been so many times in the past.

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Nenad
In Serbia the law says minimum 3 years in jail for basically possession of cannabis, smoking in public or similar. I wouldn’t consider that green in any map. Thanks!

12/08/2016


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What Is Going On With Germany’s Cannabis Bid? By Marguerite Arnold

A number of setbacks, controversies and lawsuits keep the German cannabis market in limbo.

Germany is proceeding down the path to officially grow its own medical cannabis crops. Medical use became legal this year, along with a federal mandate for cheap access. That means that public health insurance companies, which cover 90% of Germans, are now firmly on the hook if not front line of the cannabis efficacy issue. As such, Germany’s medical market is potentially one of the most lucrative cannabis markets in the world, with a total dollar amount to at least challenge, if not rival, even California’s recreational market. Some say Canada’s too.

However, before “home grow” enthusiasts get too excited, this legislative move was an attempt to stymie everything but commercial, albeit medical production. Not to mention shut off the recreational discussion for at least another four years.

How successful that foray into legalization will be – especially given the chronic shortages now facing patients – are an open question. Not to mention other infrastructural issues – like doctor unfamiliarity with or resistance to prescribing cannabinoids. Or the public insurers’ so-far reluctance to cover it even though now federally mandated to do so.

Regardless, Germany decided to legalize medical use in 2017 and further to begin a sanctioned domestic cultivation for this market. The decision in the Bundestag to legalize the drug was unanimous. And the idea to follow UN regulations to establish this vertical is cautiously conservative but defendable. Very predictably German in other words.

Since then, however, the path has been far from smooth. Much less efficient.

Trouble in Germany’s Medical Cannabis Paradise
In April the government released its tender bid. And no matter how exciting it was to be in the middle of an industry who finally saw a crack of light, there were also clouds to this silver lining that promised early and frequent thunderstorms on the horizon.

By the time the tender bid application was due in June, it was already clear who the top firms were likely to be In fact, by the end of the ICBC conference, which held its first annual gathering in Berlin at the same time the bid tender was announced, the controversy was already bubbling. The requirements of the bid, for a laughably small amount of cannabis (2,000 kg), mandated experience producing high qualities of medical marijuana in a federally legitimate market. By definition that excluded all German hopefuls, and set up Canada and Holland as the only countries who could provide such experience, capital and backlog of crop as the growing gets started.

The grumbling from Germans started then.

However, so did an amazingly public race to gain access to the German market directly – by acquisition or capital expenditures that are not refundable easily (like real estate or even buyouts). The common theme? They were large amounts of money being spent, and made by major Canadian Licensed Producers who had the right qualifications to meet the standards of the bid. In fact, by the time the tender bid application was due in June, it was already clear who the top firms were likely to be. They were the only ones who qualified under the judging qualifications.

And while nobody would commit publicly, news of the final decision was expected by August. Several Canadian LPs even issued press releases stating that they were finalists in the bid. But still no news was forthcoming about the official list.

Delay, Delay and More Delay
A month later, as of September, and there was still no official pronouncement. Nor was anybody talking. BfArM, the regulatory agency that is supervising this rollout as well as the regulation of all narcotic drugs (sort of like a German version of the FDA) has been issuing non-statement statements since the late summer. Aurora, however, one of the top contenders for cultivation here, was quietly issued an ex-im license by both Canadian and German authorities. Publicly, this has been described as an effort to help stem the now chronic cannabis shortage facing patients who attempt to go through legitimate, prescribed channels. On the German side, intriguingly, this appears to be a provisional license. Privately, some wondered if this was the beginning of a backdoor approval process for the top scoring bid applicants for cultivation. Although why that might be remains unclear.

Whispered rumours by industry sources that wish to remain anonymous, have suggested that the entire bid is still hanging in jeopardy. Late in the month, rumours began to fly that there were now lawsuits against the bid process. Nobody had much detail. Not to mention specifics. But CannabisIndustryJournal can now confirm in fact that there have been two lawsuits (so far).

The summary of the complaints? It appears that two parties, filing with the “Bundeskartellamt” (or regulatory office focusing on monopolies and unfair business practices) did not think the bid process or scoring system was fair. And both parties also lost.

But as of mid-October, there is still no public decision on the bids. What gives?

Whispered rumours by industry sources that wish to remain anonymous, have suggested that the entire bid is still hanging in jeopardy. Even though the plaintiffs failed, some have suggested that the German government might force a complete redo. Others hint that it will likely be slightly revised to be more inclusive but the regulatory standards must remain. If a redo is in the cards, will the German government decide to increase the total amount of yearly cannabis to be delivered? At this point, it is only calling for 2,000 kg per year by 2019. And that, as everyone knows, is far too little for a market that is exploding no matter the many other obstacles, like insurance companies refusing to compensate patients.

What Is Behind The Continued Delays?
There are several theories circulating the higher levels of the cannabis industry internationally right now even if no one is willing to be quoted. The first is that the total number of successful applicants, including the recent litigants, will be slightly expanded, but stay more or less the same. There is a high standard here for the import of medical cannabis that the Germans intend on duplicating domestically.

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA – the often controversial free trade alliance between Europe and Canada) is still in the final stages of approval.The second is that the German government will take its time on announcing the final winners and just open the doors to more imported product. This will not be popular with German insurers, who are on the hook to pay the difference. However with Tilray now on track to open a processing facility in Portugal and Canopy now aligned with Alcaliber in Spain, cross-continent import might be one option the government is also weighing as a stop-gap provision. Tilray, who publicly denied in the German press that they were participating in the cultivation license during the summer, just issued a press release in October announcing a national distribution deal to pharmacies with a German partner – for cannabis oil.

But then there is another possibility behind the delay. The government might also be waiting for another issue to resolve – one that has nothing to do with cannabis specifically, but in fact is now right in the middle of the discussion.

The Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA – the often controversial free trade alliance between Europe and Canada) is still in the final stages of approval. In fact, on September 19, a prominent German politician, Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats (SPD) made a major statement about his party’s willingness to support Germany’s backing of the deal. It might be in fact, that the German government, which is supportive of CETA, got spooked about the cannabis lawsuits as test trials against not cannabis legalization, but a threat to the treaty itself.

Quality control, namely pesticides when it comes to plant matter, and the right of companies to sue governments are two of the most controversial aspects of this trade deal. And both appear to have risen, like old bong smoke, right at the final leg of closing the cannabis cultivation bid.

Will cannabis be seen as a flagship test for the seaworthiness of CETA? On a very interesting level, that answer may be yes. And will CETA in turn create a different discussion about regulatory compliance in an industry that has been, from the beginning of this year, decidedly Canadian-Deutsch? That is also on the table. And of great concern to those who follow the regulatory issues inherent in all. Not to mention, of course, the industry itself.

Conclusions?
Right now, there are none to be had.

However at present, the German bid process is several months behind schedule as Canadian producers themselves face a new wrinkle at home – the regulation of the recreational crop in the provinces.

It is also clear that there are a lot of questions and not a whole lot of answers. Not to mention a timeline when the smoke will clear.

Marguerite Arnold
Founder
MedPayRx
Marguerite Arnold is an American expat now living in Germany. She has just recieved her EMBA from the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. She has a 25 year background in both cannabis reform and technology. She has been covering the international marijuana industry as a journalist and author since 2014. She continues to cover developments in the industry as she launches her own cannabis-tech firm, a company called MedPayRx, which aspires to be the first insurance and banking solution for cannabis patients in the world.


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Cannabis Shows Promise In Treating Schizophrenia And Tourette Syndrome

Cannabis Shows Promise In Treating Schizophrenia And Tourette Syndrome – by Janet Burns

Despite cannabis’ history in folk pharmacopoeias, clinical studies of its medicinal impact remain limited in many areas. Based on some promising early results, researchers are now calling for a closer look at its applications for certain mental health conditions for which more ‘traditional’ treatments have come up short.

According to recent studies, the cannabis-derived chemical cannabidiol (CBD) may offer meaningful relief with schizophrenia, a frequently chronic condition which can significantly interfere with how we think, feel, and behave.

At the University of Wollongong, researchers first discovered that CBD could provide new kinds of symptom relief for schizophrenic individuals by examining what science has uncovered about the chemical so far. To get a sense of CBD’s impact on cognitive function in relation to schizophrenia, Dr. Katrina Green, Professor Nadia Solowij, and Wollongong Ph.D. candidate Ashleigh Osborne conducted a detailed review of 27 extant studies on the chemical and uncovered some “fascinating insights” about its potential therapeutic value.

In a release, Green commented that CBD could provide direct neurological support for a range of conditions affecting the brain, from schizophrenia to dementia. “From this review, we found that CBD will not improve learning and memory in healthy brains, but may improve aspects of learning and memory in illnesses associated with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as neurological and neuro-inflammatory disorders,” including hepatic encephalopathy, meningitis, sepsis, and cerebral malaria.

Green, who led the review, also noted that CBD may well be capable of reducing cognitive impairment that has been associated with THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, which has previously shown a potential to aggravate aspects of schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Following the review, the researchers decided to put CBD’s potential for easing cognitive schizophrenia symptoms to the test with their own study using a rat model. With help from Senior Professor Xu-Feng Huang and Ph.D. candidate Ilijana Babic, what they found was that “chronic” administration of CBD seemed to attenuate the cognitive deficits and social withdrawal that often afflict persons with schizophrenia, which the team simulated in rats using prenatal poly I:C infection.

“We found that CBD was able to restore recognition and working memory, as well as social behavior, to normal levels,” Osborne said in a release. “These findings are interesting because they suggest that CBD may be able to treat some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that are seemingly resistant to existing medications. In addition, CBD treatment did not alter body weight or food intake, which are common side effects of antipsychotic drug treatment.”

Osborne also explained to ABC News Australia, “This is really important because current antipsychotic drugs don’t address the cognitive deficits, which approximately 80% of patients with schizophrenia experience.”

According to the Australian team, the results of their review and study indicate some promising possibilities for treating schizophrenia with CBD, but also that more scientific research is definitely in order.

“This is the first study to prove Cannabidiol can be used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia that aren’t addressed by current medications,” Osborne told ABC News. “These findings are really promising but further research is needed to see if these findings translate to people suffering from schizophrenia.”

She added, “Ultimately, we hope that these findings lead to new improved medications.”

According to a recent study on schizophrenia and cannabis use, people with a greater risk for schizophrenia are likelier than others to keep trying the plant for themselves in the meantime.

In recent years, cannabis has also shown promise as a treatment for Tourette Syndrome, characterized by involuntary physical or verbal tics that are often physically or socially painful to endure.

A preliminary study published this year provided a retrospective evaluation of cannabis’ effectiveness and tolerability in treating adults with Tourette Syndrome. Conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto with support from the Tourette Association of America, the study found that 18 of 19 participants were at least “much improved” after a regimen of inhaled cannabis, while tics scores for the whole group decreased by 60%.

As NORML reported, all of the study’s participants experienced “clinically significant symptom relief,” including reductions in irritability, impulsivity, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and rage outbursts. The drug was also well tolerated by the participants, with mostly minor side effects being reported.

Overall, the researchers wrote, “These study participants experienced substantial improvements in their symptoms, [which] is particularly striking given that almost all participants had failed at least one anti-tic medication trial. … In conclusion, cannabis seems to be a promising treatment option for tics and associated symptoms.”

As NORML pointed out, research has previously determined that oral doses of THC have helped to decrease tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior in patients with Tourette Syndrome by a hearty margin. Patients using inhaled cannabis, however, have “generally shown greater overall improvement.”

Given that cannabis and the chemicals it contains have demonstrated promise or proven effectiveness in treating such ailments as pain, nausea, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, neuropsychiatric disorders, epilepsy, and various symptoms thereof, many patients and practitioners are hoping that the Trump Administration will allow more research on the plant going forward.

In recent months, however, members of the administration have indicated a desire to rather crack down on the drug’s medicinal and recreational usage, at times due to the opinion–or, perhaps more accurately, the notion–that marijuana is not a medicine.

According to Merriam-Webster, a medicine is “a substance or preparation used in treating disease;” according to our own CDC, medicines are “used to treat diseases, manage conditions, and relieve symptoms.”

As the CDC points out, medicines can also contain a number of different drugs, and thereby pose different health risks depending on each patient. For example, over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines like Tylenol and Excedrin contain the drug acetaminophen, which can easily be overdosed on (and/or do real liver damage) by doubling the dose once or twice, regardless of its interactions with other drugs, while over-dosing or incorrect use of OTC’s like Advil and Aleve, which contain drugs called NSAIDs, cause tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year, and thousands of deaths, though exact estimates vary.

Nevertheless, these drugs continue to be available as medicines because their perceived benefits are thought to outweigh the risks involved in taking them–an assessment which is critical for both doctors and drug manufacturers to perform, according to the FDA.

And since research and experts have consistently suggested that the potential benefits of cannabis would far outweigh the risks and side-effects involved–enough to warrant further study, in the very least–hopefully our elected officials and appointed administrators will realign their sense of the plant with science’s definition soon.

Janet Burns covers tech, culture, and other fun stuff from Brooklyn, NY. She also hosts the cannabis news podcast The Toke.


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How cannabis patients despite the prescription are harassed by the police – by BENEDICT NIESSEN

How cannabis patients despite the prescription are harassed by the police

BENEDICT NIESSEN
Aug 25, 2017, 12:48 pm

Symbolfoto: imago Christian Mang

Anxious doctors, skimpy coffers, inexpensive grass, empty pharmacies. The medical cannabis legislation: a first gloomy conclusion.

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Glockenbachviertel in Munich, a sunny spring day in May. The 31 year old Christoph sits with two girlfriends on a meadow on the Isar. “Somehow I had to take my medication,” says Christoph. Its medications are joints. He has ADHD. A few minutes later four civilian policemen are standing around the group. “One of them immediately took the joint away and they began to search me,” recalls Christoph.

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He tells the policeman that in his left handbag he finds his prescription for cannabis . “After they finally looked at it, a policeman imprisoned me for prescription.” The policemen then search his companions. Christoph asks for the reason for the search. “One of the policemen just said, ‘Other junkies have knives and syringes.'” Then the policemen let him run. For Christopher, however, the case is not finished. He lodged a complaint “on the grounds of unlawful and disproportionate police action, damage to my property, and insult to my person by police officers 21”. The policeHas answered him that the Bavarian LKA is now checking whether the police have acted illegally, and whether Christoph is entitled to compensation. It is the normal normal madness for German patients, who since March cannabis can get by law as medicine.

This is how a prescription for medical cannabis looks (Photo: private)
Alone at the Barmer, the AOK and the Techniker Krankenkasse asked nearly 6,000 patients around cannabis on the prescription and a reimbursement, writes the star . Christoph has been using a cannabis recipe since April. “I am hyperactive and very sensitive to the sound,” he says. “During the day, I need the THC to be able to focus, but I’m tired in the afternoon because of my basic activity.” Unlike the current ADHD drug Ritalin – which Christoph took since his 13th year of age – cannabis has no side effects. The new cannabis law would actually help him – if he came to his medicine.

“Since I have my prescription, the varieties that my doctor has prescribed for me are not available,” says Christoph. “Since June there was nothing left, so I had to wait three weeks.” Substitutes such as the oral spray Sativex had been incorrectly dosed. Christoph earned his money as a software developer. “I have to go to work and can not be on such a downer means, where I run around in the afternoon like a zombie.”

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“The supply bottlenecks for physically prescribed cannabis exist nationwide and can theoretically occur in each of the approximately 20,000 pharmacies,” writes the German Association of German Pharmacists (ABDA) on demand from VICE. After all, “Some retailers will probably be available again from September.” German pharmacies are still ordering cannabis in the Netherlands and Canada until next year’s production is due to start. “For four or five weeks, we are witnessing the first big supply bottleneck, but there will probably be bottlenecks again in the future because demand is constantly increasing,” explains Deputy Managing Director of the German Hanfverband (DHV), Florian Rister. There are further problems with the bottlenecks.

Also with VICE: The cook, the grass keeps alive.

Since March 10, patients should be able to get cannabis – actually. “It is still unclear for the patients whether the health insurance funds pay because the law was so spongy,” says Rister of the hemp association. Because there is no exact definition of disease images, the cash desks themselves can decide whether to pay or not. Barmer, AOK and Techniker Krankenkasse, according to their own data, granted only about half of the nearly 6,000 applications.

Another problem: since the law change, the prices of medicinal cannabis blossoms have doubled . This price explosion included, among other things, the fact that cannabis has to be labeled as a prescription drug and not as a finished drug , and pharmacies can make a 100 percent purchase price. “The prices are currently 24 euros per gram for private individuals, who have to pay themselves. For the coffers, such a price explosion is also a burden,” says Rister. The high prices also deter the doctors. “While many doctors have never been involved in cannabis, other people are afraid to break their practice budgets with these high costs and to be reconsidered .”

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Because many patients do not find a doctor, one of the leading German specialists for cannabis has been in hunger for a week . Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen wants to draw attention to the criminalization of cannabis patients. “The law is a great step in the right direction, but many patients still have to provide their medicine illegally,” says Grotenhermen to VICE. He calls for a change of law. “The prosecution of patients who have a doctor certified the need for a therapy with cannabis must be terminated.”

Christoph, despite the bottlenecks in pharmacies, has not yet returned to a dealer on the road. He was lucky and managed to get last doses of cannabis blossoms at pharmacies in Munich. Even if his health insurance does not pay his ten prescribed daily dues. Christoph, however, also knows of patients who had to get their medicine different because of the bottlenecks. If they are caught, they are threatened with an advertisement. At the Deutscher Hanfverband, other patients who, like Christoph, were searched or arrested by the police, despite a prescription for cannabis use. “Personal injury, house searches, insults” are the accusations against the officials in at least four cases, which the DHV Munich collected so far.

Icon image: Christoph is not the only cannabis patient who is criminalized by the police (Photo: imago | IPON)
In an open letter to the Minister of Health and the Drug Commissioner, The Left Party already drew attention at the beginning of June to pimpling coffers and the price explosions for cannabis blossoms. The federal government stated in a reply that it had requested a report to the top association of statutory health insurance (GKV). However, because the Federal Government did not set any time limits, the problems could be protracted. “The government needs to cut prices by law in the interests of patients,” the Frank-Tempel drug spokesman said on the website of his party , “We need short-term solutions and can not wait any longer.”

Just a week ago, the Federal Government’s Drug Commissioner, Marlene Mortler (CSU), published the sobering drug and addiction report 2017 . In it, the passionate grass-adversary warned against a trivialization of cannabis and demanded an active anti-cannabis policy in the federation. Specialist Franjo Grotenhermen says he would like to talk with Mortler about the dangers. “I would like to invite her, but she would never accept anything like this.” Mrs. Mortler would look embarrassed if she would talk to me because she can not do anything but “Drugs are dangerous.” He does not believe in a quick solution. “At the moment I am simply desperate and try to draw attention to the failures with this hunger strike.”

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Christoph also hopes for change. Since the incident with the police, he is careful, he says. “I was pretty done now, I’m always watching where I can take my medication every day.” After all, ten doses a day – ten joints – were prescribed for him. “Should I hide, so that I may be well? That is not the point.” Yet he believes in the law. “I would be glad if it finally helped us,” he says. “I just hope I get the right drugs soon, pay my health insurance and I do not have to be afraid of the police.”
https://www.vice.com/de/article/j55bgb/wie-cannabis-patienten-trotz-rezept-von-der-polizei-schikaniert-werden?utm_medium=link&utm_source=vicefbde
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Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, one of the world’s preeminent medical cannabis experts, has announced a hunger strike until Germany sufficiently opens up the medical cannabis program to all patients in need. –

franjo

German Cannabis Expert Announces Hunger Strike

Germany has made great strides improving its cannabis laws in recent years, but there is still so much work to be done, as too many patients are still without safe access to a safe medicine. There was understandably great hope that Germany would start treating marijuana the same as any other medicine, after the country implemented an expansion of the burgeoning medical program, but too many bureaucratic hurdles remain. Hoping to fulfill the practical notion that cannabis should be treated the same as any other prescribed medicine, Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen, on of the world’s preeminent medical cannabis experts, has announced a hunger strike until Germany sufficiently opens up the medical cannabis program to all patients in need.

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Grotenhermen when he spoke at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin last year, and the man’s dedication to the cause, and expert knowledge, were evident to all in attendance. I hope when the ICBC returns to Berlin in 2018, that Dr. Grotenhermen can reflect on how his efforts have successfully brought medical cannabis fully into the medical mainstream.

Below is a press release sent out by Dr. Grotenhermen announcing his hunger strike: 

Cannabis expert starts hunger strike

Rüthen: On August 17, 2017, the German cannabis expert Franjo Grotenhermen entered an indefinite hunger strike. The objective of refusing to accept any food is to decriminalize all citizens who need cannabis to treat their serious diseases.

On March 10, 2017, a much-debated law on cannabis as a medicine went into effect in Germany. It was the declared aim of the legislature to allow all patients who need a therapy with cannabis medicines to do so. The law, however, proves itself in practice as too bureaucratic. Therefore, treatment with cannabis and cannabinoids is unattractive for doctors who in principle support such therapy. Many patients do not find a doctor who allows them legal access to the needed treatment.

“The legislature has taken a great step into the right direction,” explains Grotenhermen. “However, many patients are still dependent on a still as illegal regarded treatment. They face criminal sanctions. This is no longer acceptable. Therefore a basic clarification in the narcotics law must be established. The prosecution of patients to whom a doctor has certified the need for a therapy with cannabis must end. ”

Already today, the German Narcotics Law allows prosecutors to stop a criminal case in the case of a “minor debt”. This possibility is mainly applied in cases of possession of small amounts of cannabis. Grotenhermen urges that criminal proceedings should in principle also be stopped if accused citizens need cannabis for medical reasons. “The need for a cannabis therapy should not be judged by the judiciary, a government agency or a health insurance company, but, as with other medical treatments, also by a doctor,” explains Grotenhermen.

He also strongly supports the uncomplicated access of patients to standardized preparations from the pharmacy. In this respect, it is necessary to improve the existing law. However, the prosecution of the remaining losers of the legal situation must also be ended. “I am not aware of a convincing argument by which patients’ prosecution can be maintained,” adds Grotenhermen. A corresponding amendment to the Narcotics Act is, therefore, logical and unavoidable.

From 7 pm a 21-minute video will be presented on a special website (www.cannabis-hungerstrike.de), in which Grotenhermen explains in detail the background and goals of his hunger strike. On May 12, 2017, he had already begun a short 8-day “warning hunger strike”, by which he wanted to draw attention to a problem associated with the new law.

Franjo Grotenhermen, born in 1957, studied medicine in Cologne. Medical practice in Rüthen (NRW) with a focus on therapy with cannabis and cannabinoids. Grotenhermen is the chairman of the German Association for Cannabis as Medicine (ACM), Executive Director of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM) and
Chairman of the Medical Cannabis Declaration eV (MCD), as well as author of the IACM-Bulletin, which is available in several languages on the website of the IACM. Grotenhermen is an associate of the Cologne nova-Institut in the department of renewable resources and author of numerous articles and books on the therapeutic potential of the hemp plant and cannabinoids, their pharmacology and toxicology. Among others, since 2008 he has been an expert on debates in the
Health Committee of the German Bundestag on the medical use of cannabis products, most recently in September 2016.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon’s cannabis le 

http://marijuanapolitics.com/german-cannabis-expert-announces-hunger-strike/


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“It’s California in 1995 All Over Again, Man” – Opportunities and Problems Piling Up in the European Cannabis Market – from Cannabis Business Executive magazine / Philip J. Cenedella IV

“It’s California in 1995 all over again, man.”

That was a comment I overhead during a conversation between an American and a German entrepreneur at the Mary Jane Berlin event held in Berlin in the second week of June, 2017.

Indeed, there may not be a better way to sum up the current state of the state here in Europe’s most populous country. Having been on the frontlines of the grassroots efforts in San Diego last century, it is fun to see how our industry is now growing in Germany and throughout Europe.  And like California back then, or now, the struggle is not always easy.

Here’s another interesting quote of the month:

“European markets are increasingly important to the cannabis sector. Each has a well-funded medical system, residents who seek natural and complementary therapies, and a government-supported mandate to stop the rising tide of opiate addiction related to chronic pain treatment.”

-Benjamin Ward, CEO, Maricann Group, Inc.

As of August, 2017 starts, the medical marijuana patients in Germany are experiencing “sold out” conditions nationwide, and the two exclusive importing countries (Canada and the Netherlands) are anticipating further bottlenecks as their in-country supply needs change. This is a significant problem – but also an opportunity for GMP-certified growers to fill the gap. If, and how, the German government opens up alternative supply to support their medical patients will be the top story in Germany this year.

From the patients perspective, there are two bad things about the current state of affairs: Little to no choice in their required medicine and their insurance companies are now refusing to cover the costs for the medicine as stipulated in the federal law.

Of course, lawyers are now getting involved and insurance companies are starting to be forced into approving valid claims from their policy-paying customers. But it is a silly, slow process to say the least.

The solution the German government is pursuing is to award 10 grow licenses to companies that will then produce 200 lbs. cannabis ​each within the country. The first bud from those plants are not scheduled to be picked until sometime in 2019, which is simply too long for patients to wait.

Some of the companies that have been publicly mentioned as potential winners of a grow license are Spektrum Cannabis, which is the Canopy Growth company formerly known as MedCann; Maricann GmbH, which is the new German subsidiary of its Canadian parent, Bedrocan, that has been a leader in the industry but recently run into a dispute with their Canadian licensee, Bedrocan International; Aurora Cannabis from Canada, which recently acquired the German firm Pedianos adding an EU-wide, medical marijuana distribution capability; and ABCann of Canada, which touts the “Father of THC” Dr. Raphael Mechoulam as a key member of their board of directors.

Homegrow options in Germany are currently not permitted, and existing indoor/outdoor farm operations are not yet able to be registered, licensed and taxed.

The black market continues to win, and patients continue to lose.  Cannabis business executives worldwide need to effectively work with the German government to develop the solutions we all know exist.  Three organizations that are key to this effort are the BfArM (www.bfarm.de )  the DHV (www.hanfverband.de )  and the GTAI ( www.gtai.de )

My personal comment is the government, politicians and regulators here in Germany need to listen to their constituents who support our industry by over 60 percent nationwide, according to a recent poll. The total quantity of flower to be delivered by the 10 licensees is probably less than what my buddy Butch has in his building back in California to handle his patients which live within five miles of the office.

Yes I am joking, Butch usually has less, but the point is – ​it simply is not enough for a population twice the size of California.

With all the talk about Germany, it is also important to remember that it is one of 18 countries within Europe that currently allow for some form of medical marijuana.  Besides Germany, there are provisions for the distribution and use of medical products in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and, the most recent addition, Poland.

This is an interesting list that, again, shows these are historic times here in Europe.

Sadly missing from the list above is the United Kingdom, and that has affected people we know. Our friend Vera Twomey, and her entire family had to leave the U.K. last month just to take care of their young daughter with Dravet’s Syndrome. In the U.K. their daughter suffered from up to 30 grand mal seizures a day while taking a regimen of pharmaceutical drugs.

Think about that for a moment – 30 grand mal ​seizures a day.

Now living as “medical refugees” from their homeland, the Twomey’s and their daughter are now dealing with zero grand mal seizures a day thanks to her medical marijuana.

30 grand mal seizures a day, now zero a day – everyday for the past 3-4 weeks.

The United Kingdom calls medical marijuana illegal. Patients and advocates call that thinking arcane, unjust, and possibly criminal itself. They are now petitioning the Human Rights Commission of the European Union in Brussels for help. I am positive their efforts will be successful – it is just a matter of time.

Vera and her family hope it comes within her daughter’s lifetime. That is all for now. Have a successful rest of the summer, rest up and get ready because I believe that Q-4 of 2017 is going to be a busy one for our industry and your company.

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