On January 19th, 2017, Germany’s parliament (Bundestag) passed a law that officially makes cannabis legal for medicinal purposes, allowing for severely ill German patients to receive prescriptions for medical cannabis treatment. This amendment became effective from March 2017, allowing people with qualifying conditions to legally obtain medical marijuana from pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription.

Prior to the legalization of medical cannabis in March, only about 1,000 people in Germany had permission to use the drug for special medical purposes. The draft bill for its approval had estimated that 700 patients per year would require prescription. Then ten months after legalization of the drug, in January this year, a survey with three health insurance companies – Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse (AOK), Barmer and Techniker Krankenkasse (TK) – found that more patients than expected had applied for it; over 13,000 applications had been submitted.

The next step in the legalization process is the granting of per-lot licenses for companies to grow and distribute cannabis. Overall, 10 licenses will be distributed to a small number of companies.

Germany’s Medical Cannabis Program Overview

This law also allows for the transport and prescription of cannabis and cannabis products, including dried flowers and extracts. German medical cannabis patients will be able to purchase cannabis from local pharmacies following a prescription by their doctor after a clear lack of therapeutic alternatives has been established. It is up to the German medical marijuana doctor’s medical professional opinion, following a thorough examination, to determine whether a patient’s severe illness qualifies for medical marijuana treatment.

To obtain cannabis from local German medical cannabis pharmacies, patients must present a medical certificate prescription, containing the necessary dosage or amount required for treatment. German medical cannabis patients may obtain a supply of up to 30 days of use, limited to 100,000 mg per 30 day period. The German medical cannabis doctor is responsible for the control of the patient’s therapy through cannabis, due to the prescription they provide the patient.

The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Device will conduct research into the efficacy and use of medical cannabis, to anonymously assess the amounts of cannabis used, the number of patients receiving prescriptions and more data.

Germany medical marijuana patients may also apply for insurance reimbursement for medical cannabis costs by submitting a request to their respective health insurer, as long as they have a preexisting qualifying condition prior to receiving a prescription for medical cannabis and there are no other treatment options available. Reimbursement policies are included in the legal body of the amendment.

Where will Germany’s Medical Cannabis come from?

Patients may not cultivate their own cannabis. Germany’s government will establish a state-owned agency to coordinate and control cannabis cultivation and distribution. Prior to establishing this agency, Germany will import cannabis from the Netherlands for medical use, to supplement the missing quantity, to be used over the next five years.

The government will establish a system of standardization to ensure the consistent quality and effectiveness in dried cannabis flowers.

What are the legal responsibilities for Medical Cannabis Doctors and Patients?

To obtain cannabis from pharmacies, patients must present a German medical certificate prescription, containing the necessary dosage or amount required for treatment. Patients may obtain a supply of up-to 30 days of use, limited to 100,000 mg per 30 day period. The physician is responsible for the control of the patient’s therapy through cannabis, due to the prescription they provide the patient.

The German government will make sure that holders of a cannabis prescription will be protected from police prosecution and conviction, as well as protect medical cannabis patients from the same when travelling abroad. The handling of cannabis for non-medical purposes, including cultivation, trade, and possession remain illegal and are still prohibited under the law. A violation of the law will result in prosecution.