Berlin legalized medical marijuana at the beginning of the year, and the government already plans to have a local cannabis growing industry in place by 2019. A cannabis agency will oversee imports and local cultivation.
An article by rt.com reports that medicinal cannabis is being supplied to about 1,000 patients, but these are very exceptional cases. These patients suffer from multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, or epilepsy. Cancer patients with nausea lacking appetite can also get cannabis legally.
Germany currently gets cannabis for these patients from Canada and the Netherlands. The German government is setting up a cannabis agency to oversee these imports as well as the local cultivation of cannabis. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) created the special cannabis agency, which will regulate the distribution and control of medical marijuana.
Furthermore, the agency will also oversee the cultivation, storage and distribution of cannabis for recreational use which may be on the cards in the near future. EU companies will soon be called on to bid for cannabis cultivation permits. The plan is for Berlin to have a domestic marijuana-growing program in place by 2019.
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Pharmaceutical grade hemp
Patients may not grow their own medicinal cannabis. Only “pharmaceutical grade hemp” will be allowed. Federal Ministry of Health, State Secretary, Lutz Stroppe, highlighted the fact that if medical marijuana were homegrown, the results would be unpredictable. What Germany wants is high quality medical strains for the ill, she says.
At this point, the way in which Germany defines “high quality medical strains” is unclear. Presumably, they would be looking for plant varieties with predictable cannabinoid content and a balance between CBD and THC.
Cannabis not legal recreationally
The government emphasized that this doesn’t imply cannabis is legal for recreational use or non-medical use. In 2016, Germany imported a total of 170 kilograms of medical marijuana from the Netherlands and Canada to Germany.
Reader comments don’t reflect trust in the government regulation agency. Perhaps the secretary’s choice of the words “pharmaceutical grade hemp,” caused this. There is a lot of confusion about when to use the word “marijuana” and when to use the term “hemp.”
Many people seem to believe that big pharma is going to control the marijuana industry under the new dispensation. This is a legitimate fear. Medical cannabis advocates worry that medical cannabis legalization will only benefit a few elites. They are also concerned that few sick people able to gain access.
Lost in translation
On the other hand, the secretary might have used the term to express a certain quality of cannabis. After all, some experts believe that the lack of CBD in high THC skunk strains affects its efficacy and increases side effects. For example, THC can make people feel anxious and paranoid.
Control and regulation should protect patients from having any bad experience using medicinal marijuana. The last thing medical cannabis needs now is bad press. The only way to build trust is through education and information.