Medical Cannabis will be available on prescription in Germany by next year, according to a draft bill approved by their cabinet yesterday.

The bill, proposed by Hermann Gröhe, the German Health Minister, will allow doctors to prescribe herbal cannabis and extracts to patients, for them to collect at pharmacies. Speaking in Die Weld, Gröhe stated “Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best way possible.”

Doctors will be able to prescribe to patients for whom no other treatments have proved effective, and they will be paid for through their public health insurance, an improvement on the current system where patients have to seek special authorisation and pay for it out of their own pockets.

Cultivation will be controlled by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, and will only extend to medical cannabis, with cannabis sourced and imported from other countries until a growing programme is set up. Gröhe has pointed it out that the the bill does not in anyway influence the recreational use of cannabis, which will still remain illegal.

The draft bill will now have to be approved by parliament, although Gröhe is confident it will be passed: “Without wishing to pre-judge the work of the Bundestag, it is likely that the law will come into force in the spring of 2017.”

Germany now joins a growing list of regions and countries that have recognised and legislated for medical cannabis, with Pennsylvania recently becoming the 24th US state to legalise medical cannabis and European countries including Portugal, Italy, the Czech Republic and France. As more of Europe recognises the medical value of cannabis, the dearth of any debate here in the UK becomes ever more apparent. Public awareness of the issue has increased recently with Coronation Street featuring a storyline on medical cannabis and the End Our Pain petitioning the support of MPs and celebrities, political debate. The question the now remains is when will UK politicians join the debate?

Words by Henry Fisher

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