Updated on January 22, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
For a country with one of the strictest drug laws in Europe, Germany’s new medical marijuana legislation is a progressive plan. The Act Amending Narcotics and Other Regulations passed in March 2017. It gives doctors further freedom to use their judgment and prescribe cannabis as needed to patients suffering from many different debilitating conditions. Patients in this country need to familiarize themselves with this new legislation to understand their rights and responsibilities.
Germany’s narcotic drug law placed cannabis as an Annex I drug, the strictest rating. However, a 2005 court ruling allowed patients to pursue medical marijuana treatments for serious health conditions. Even then, each case was considered individually, and patients would have to get an exemption from the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM).
The German court approved home cultivation after an exempt patient pursued the matter, forcing the government to act. Early in 2017, a new Act was passed that amended how Germany handled medical marijuana patients. This opened the door for more patients in need of cannabis medications.
After the new Act was established, the Cannabis Agency was established under the umbrella of BfArM. It is this entity’s job to develop production, cultivation and research facilities for medical marijuana. Their goal is to start distributing German-grown cannabis in pharmacies by 2019.
Although this agency will keep a watchful eye on the medical cannabis industry, ensuring patients don’t misuse medications, it isn’t responsible for issuing medical marijuana cards. Germany allows patients to go directly to physicians and receive a prescription for cannabis, which can be filled at any pharmacy in the country.
Although this new Act eases up restrictions on the medical use of marijuana, recreational use is still illegal. In many cases, however, people in possession of smaller amounts of cannabis will not be prosecuted. Patients shouldn’t assume this will be the case for them, because the penalty for possession is a fine. The amount owed varies depending on how much marijuana a person is found with. The sale of marijuana is illegal and will be met with severe consequences. The new act also asserts home cultivation of cannabis is not legal.
If a patient has a valid prescription for cannabis, they can’t be prosecuted for possession as long as they follow certain regulations, including:
The new act offers protection to both German patients and doctors. If patients have a current prescription, they can possess their prescribed dosage of medical marijuana.
In Germany, doctors have the liberty to prescribe medical marijuana as they see fit. As long as the patient has exhausted other treatment options for their condition, physicians can prescribe cannabis. There is no set list of qualifying conditions — doctors are free to use their own discernment.
Whether you’re a citizen of another nation or you’re traveling abroad, it’s important to know laws of the land regarding medical marijuana. We offer ample resources so that you can research the medicinal use of cannabis around the world. Be sure to also read our informative articles blogs for useful tips and other important information.