Germany is one of the most stellar economies in the world, the leaders have their priorities sorted and when it comes to making pivotal economic decisions regarding how the country will generate its money steadily and grow. While the world is on the verge of inviting the cannabis industry in a welcoming manner as a catalyst in economic growth, Germany has a set of interesting laws and regulations surrounding its cannabis policies.
Read on to find out Germany’s current standing on cannabis and the laws around it!
Germany is a part of the G7 countries of the world which means that it is in the company of other leading economies in the world. Yet, unlike its fellow G7 country, Canada, Germany’s stance on cannabis is not entirely a friendly one and while medical consumption of the plant is legal since the past two years there is dearth in the market for readily available cannabis. The prices are high and the societal taboos are also plenty. In addition the country’s laws on regulating cannabis production and consumption are very rigid!
The decision to legalise medical cannabis was taken two years ago in Germany and it caused a ripple of excitement amongst the local healthcare and medical ecosystem. Patients would now be able to have access to medical cannabis prescribed a doctor on regular basis. German doctors now have the freewill to prescribe medical cannabis for any problem they deem fit!
Once this monumental decision was announced the top pharmaceuticals of the world made their way to Germany in hope of business. There was an expected rise in the consumption and production of cannabis and also on the acceptance of the drug to combat the social taboo that existed. The rise in demand, as was foreseen by many, did happen. There was an instant hike in the number of people who wanted cannabis therapies, insurance companies, doctors and pharmacies were over loaded with the demand of the drug.
Until its legalisation medical cannabis was considered a niche in Germany. Only 1000 patients were allowed to use it upon strictly being prescribed by the doctors. There was a demand but due to the lack of availability and legal issues patients did not resort to using it. Doctors also did not prescribe it until it was absolutely necessary. Since cannabis has been legalised the demand has raised exponentially. According to figures from the pharmacists’ association ABDA and the German Cannabis Association (DHV), an estimated 142,000 prescriptions were issued in 2018. The DHV estimates that there are currently 50-60,000 private and statutory health insurance patients – as compared to the 1000 patients in 2017.
While the numbers in consumption have seen a significant rise, it is still not enough and many patients who need cannabis do not get it readily at pharmacies or through doctors’ prescriptions.
According to sources, doctors are reluctant to prescribe cannabis openly to even deserving patients due to the sheer hurdles they face in terms of its approvals from insurance bodies. So while cannabis has technically been legalised and there is still a huge supply issue stemming from the tough regularities faced by those who wish to use it.
According to the DHS many orthodox doctors not entirely educated in cannabis and its many benefits see it as potential threat of creating cannabis dependent individuals in society. They still view cannabis as a drug for ‘hippies’ and their own ignorance on its many benefits stops them from prescribing it.
The facts are also appalling, for instance in 2018, 19600 applicants applied for reimbursments from the German insurance giant, AOK-Bundesverband, Barmer, Techniker and DAK-Gesundheit for cannabis therapies. These therapies are expensive and effective at the same time. Out of the applications, approximately two-thirds were approved by the health insurance funds, whereas in the remaining cases they were rejected on ground of not being needed enough by the patient or the companies probed for further information for further information regarding the prescription. This creates an air of mistrust and uneasiness around using the drug even for medicinal purposes.
What adds to Germany’s supply issue aside from the healthcare system is the fact that Germany has not yet granted licenses for the domestic cultivation of cannabis. This means that exporters from abroad are looking to sell in the local market at top price. This is one of the reasons why cannabis seems so out of the reach in terms of prices to patients who wish to use it. The exporting of cannabis causes two major issues. The customers end up paying almost thrice of what they would pay if the drug was locally produced and due to the export processes and duties the supply is almost always running low in pharmacies. When they supply does come through it is sold out almost instantly and the next cycle is not available without a bit of a wait. Canada through its company Tilray has announced the availability of its cannabis flowers to German pharmacies. Israel which can be considered one of the pioneers of cannabis users in the medical field have also decided to export its cannabis to Germany. With exports coming in from other countries, the supply issue is looking to get resolved but it will take a bit of time.
The lack of availability and orthodox approach has also given rise to another uproar, many are now questioning the efficiency of the drug and weather it even lives upto its claims.
The ambiguity in scientific research has given footing to the arguments of many cannabis apposing mind sets. It is seen as a frivolous approach towards tackling with disease. What’s more is when cannabis was legalized the government also created a cannabis agency as part of the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfRrM). They then entered into the public tender process through which companies were invited to apply for cannabis cultivation licenses.
The tender process was in one word: tedious. It was set up in two steps and there was a precondition that companies applying for the tender had to have experience in cultivation of cannabis in Germany
The tender process was set up in two steps. First, applicants had to qualify for growing of cannabis in Germany. That was the pre-condition; demonstrating the ability and experience to grow cannabis in Germany.
There was a major glitch in the plan as due to the non-legal of cannabis status no company had experience of growing cannabis in Germany. Keeping this in mind BfArM allowed organizations to partner with already established cultivators internationally. A large number of organizations applied and the cannabis agency ended up changing their preconditions again. This meant that companies which had previously qualified didn’t qualify anymore. Applicants were agitated and frustrated and many of them decided to go to courts to protest the sheer ridiculousness of the tender process. After much deliberation and retaliation the tender process was entirely eliminated. This added to the frustration of the companies as they had invested time, money and resources in trying to get the tender. Many had signed memorandums with international cultivators.
BfArM’s cannabis agency then decided to simplify the process and create a one-step tender application. This allowed companies to apply in a very short time to participate in the new tender process.
The cannabis agency also increased the allowance of quantity of cannabis which could be grown annually. From step by step increment from 1000 kg in the first year to 2000 kg by the fourth the revised rules state that the total amount of cannabis production for 4 years can amount upto 2600 kgs.
Despite the challenges set up the agency and it’s own reforms to smoothen the application process for cultivation of cannabis, Germany is now almost on the brink of harvesting its own cannabis. Most of the cannabis consumed by the patients is of exported quality.
International companies with import licenses have tapped into the hike in demand of cannabis since the legalisation in Germany which is why almost 11 new companies have been granted import licenses for import of cannabis flowers to Germany. Since September 2017, several companies that already had import licenses, have applied to increase the amount of cannabis they can bring into the country annually, which is set by the BfArM.
Keep in mind that there is no other country within Europe with more medical marijuana patients than Germany. According to Handelsblatt, the domestic market for medicinal cannabis could reach more than €6 billion in annual sales by 2030 in Germany.
In conclusion for medical usage of cannabis things are in process of improvement. It will be a game changer once the country starts to cultivate its own cannabis. There is hope that it will happen sooner rather than later. The strict laws and regulations in place might prove to be an advantage when the industry transitions from its nascent stages to a budding one. The world is watching while Germany evolves its cannabis cultivation laws. Until that happens it remains a great market to sell too given the increase in demand for cannabis over the two years of legalisation.
Recreational use of Cannabis In Germany:
As far as recreational use is concerned, it is illegal in Germany. But many predict that it is on the brink of legalising it for recreational use as well. The tale is the same in Germany as it was with most other nations who debated a nationwide legal status. With the hike in demand for medical cannabis and it’s insanely growing market and the amount of money it is able to generate politicians cannot help but the notice the immense potential it presents in terms of economic growth.
The taboo attached to the drug however is the main deterrent in allowing it to become legal. Add that to the police raids and the already existing difficult framework of obtaining medical cannabis the road to legal recreational cannabis in Germany seems like a long tiresome one.
Any nation that has seen nationwide legalisation has had idealists and cannabis enthusiasts cheering on the movement from a nascent stage. Germany is no different, Georg Wurth, the president of the German Hemp Association (DHV), is tenaciously representing the interests of German cannabis enthusiasts as well as Germany’s toughest youth judge Andreas Mueller, who is able to back up his arguments with unique experiences from his occupation. These
individuals are fighting their cases and painstakingly convincing people of the many benefits legalising the drug will do for Germany.
It’s always a slow process but this movement is gaining momentum, with local companies taking interest in cultivation and constant backlash towards harsh police reactions for possession of cannabis it can easily be said that Germany is headed towards legalisation soon. The year cannot be predicted yet but it will be interesting to see how cannabis and legalisation becomes a point of combat for parties in the upcoming election.
If you consider the people and mindsets it seems like Germany is ready to mainstream the drug. However, legally there is work to be done. The supply and demand issue of medical cannabis, the tough system to breakthrough to become local cultivators, the harsh police stances on cannabis consumption all need to be relooked, evaluated and fixed. It is moving steadily in the right direction and once all the forces are at play the right way, legalisation will be the best logical option.
The incentive for legalising cannabis will be the huge potential of revenue which can be earned by growing and taxing it. That will be the tipping point for the politicians to finally come around and see the hidden gold mine that cannabis production can be for them and their country!
Slowly the stigma attached to the drug is also getting removed. People are becoming more accepting towards the drug and towards its many benefits. What was sneered and alluded to the drug for homeless people is now considered a medical messiah for many diseases faced by people. The youth love using it recreationally and behind closed doors consumption is high and steady. The world awaits for the day Germany passes the law to legalise cannabis nationwide and if predictions are something to go by, the day is going come about real soon!