Germany’s Minister of Health, Herman Gröhe, announced Tuesday that he expects the country to completely liberalize its medical marijuana laws by “the spring of 2017.”
The announcement came one day after the state’s health cabinet set a new policy to allow the use of cannabis for those afflicted with serious illnesses for which there is “no therapeutic alternative.”
Marijuana is currently illegal in Germany for the most part, but enforcement of the law is lax and court cases which involve individual possession of the drug are typically dismissed.
The new policy allows for those with medical exemptions to grow their own marijuana and use it for medicinal purposes. The Health Ministry, however, hopes that German parliament will pass additional law to open up the drug for wider use among those living with ailments which can be helped with THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.
German drug commissioner, Marlene Mortler, has her doubts about a law which may encourage marijuana use among the general population, however.
“The use of cannabis as a medicine with narrow limits is useful and should be explored in more detail,” said Mortler. “At the same time, cannabis is not a harmless substance, a legalization for private pleasure is not the aim and purpose of this.”
The consensus among German policy-makers is the country will have to import the drug at first, but eventually approval will be given to government-owned marijuana farms which will dispense the product to patients.
Minister Gröhe also expressed his preference for health insurers in Germany to cover medical marijuana as they do other prescription drugs.
Tuesday’s announcement from German authorities comes less than two months after an expert panel of doctors released a commissioned report recommending that state government’s world-wide move “toward regulated drug markets” and decriminalize drug use.
The report cited evidence that decriminalizing possession of illicit substances leads to less societal violence and better public health outcomes.
[Green Rush Daily] [CNN] [Photo courtesy dw.com]