The german government has finally published the draft for the new bill “Cannabis as medicine” on the website of the Federal Ministry of Health on January 7th.
After much speculation on the details of the bill in the last couple of months, now the draft for the law is public. Allthough there still might be some changes in the process of implementing the law, it looks quite positive. Here are the main cornerstones:
- There will be no further need for exemption licences to use legal medical cannabis.
- Any Doctor will be able to prescribe Cannabis flowers for patients on a special receipt, just like any other prescription drug available in german pharmacies.
- In addition, the costs for the flowers will”in certain cases” be covered by the regular health insurance.
- In order to secure the supply for german patients a cannabis agency will be established. The cannabis agency will issue licenses for commercial cultivation of cannabis and distribute it to the regular pharmacies.
If the draft bill passes into law, cannabis flowers will be prescribable as a controlled substance with medical use and listed in Schedule III of the german Narcotics Act (BtMG). It will be deleted from Schedule I and II, which list the narcotics that are non-prescribable and those controlled substances which are not marketable. With these changes patients will not need any special permits to use the narcotic prescription. Any doctor will be able to hand out these prescriptions.
Also pharmacies will no longer require a special exemption to deliver cannabis, all pharmacies will be able to sell the cannabis flowers. With these planned changes in the law, patients will be able to transport their medical cannabis within the European Unionwithout any further permits.
The reimbursement for the expenses of a cannabis therapy by the health insurance companies, will be a little tricky.The costs will only be covered in “certain cases” (chronically ill patients, for which no other treatments have worked) and patients will be required to participate in an accompanying research program till the year 2018. This program shall develop criteria for standardized reimbursement after 2019. Apart from cannabis flowers also Dronabinol, Nabilone and cannabis extracts will be reimbursable.
The government sees no alternative to this law. After five patients sued for the right to grow their own medicine, because the current medical cannabis is too expensive for patients with low income, the court granted three of them the right for the personal grow of cannabis plants. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices went into revision and further court rulings are expected this year. With this new draft bill the government can now argue, that there will be no need for patients to grow cannabis, since the government will take care for affordable supply of cannabis medicine.
The Cannabis Agency, which is also mentioned in the draft, will be responsible for the coordination of the cultivation and the quality control of medical cannabis products, as well as for the distribution to the pharmacies.