Canadian CANNAINVESTOR Magazine July / August 2017 - Page 106

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Government passed legalization framework for medical cannabis use just this past January and it officially came into effect in March. The law was welcomed by both left and right-wing political parties, contrasting some of the discord and pushback we’ve seen in North America, particularly in the United States. From a purely political viewpoint, German’s “Cannabis as Medicine” law is here to stay.

According to the act, patients will be granted the right to be treated with marijuana “in very limited and exceptional cases”. People with Multiple Sclerosis and other severe illnesses will be able to obtain the drug legally with a prescription.

According to a statement released by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health, doctors will be able to prescribe it to patients that can have symptoms such as chronic pain, nausea, spasticity and more, treated by using cannabis. The law however, does not give an exact definition of what a “severe illness” is, leaving it open to the treating physician to decide on whether cannabis can be used to treat a patient. This fact could lead to a significant increase in medical marijuana patients if doctors become more accepting of its use to treat symptoms in a variety of illnesses. In Germany this could be significant, as Germans have already seemingly turned away from traditional pharmaceuticals, with over half the population using some form of homeopathic treatment instead.

It is one of the world’s most liberal medical marijuana plans, distributed through pharmacies, and requiring public insurers to cover the costs of cannabis and related products. We are seeing this trend occur within Canada too, as on June 15th the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) began rolling out a new benefit that provides medical cannabis coverage for insured OPSEU staff. With this new benefit, insured employees and their spouses and dependants can claim up to $3,000 a year for medical cannabis. This progressive plan not only benefits patients, but provides for a very enticing proposition for medical marijuana licensed producers.

The legal German cannabis sector is in its infancy. The potential, however, is huge. Population in Germany is approximately 81 million, more than double than that of Canada, and is ranked 18th in the world, and largest in the European Union.