In bold move that further opens up access to medicinal marijuana for hundreds of thousands of people, Germany’s Health Minister Hermann Gröhe announced on Wednesday that Europe’s biggest economy will be legalizing the mighty herb for medicinal use by early next year.
“Our goal is that seriously ill patients are treated in the best way possible,” Gröhe said, according to German News outlet Deutsche Welle.
While patients in Germany currently need special permission from the government to use marijuana, the new laws will make medical marijuana available on a prescription basis.
Although it will still remain illegal in Germany for patients to grow their own plants, the new laws will make it possible for medical insurance to cover the costs of marijuana for medicinal use.
“We want that for the seriously ill patients, the cost of cannabis as a medicine will be taken by their health insurance, if they cannot be helped otherwise,” Gröhe said.
Germany will also begin growing its own cannabis plantations in order to produce the high amount of marijuana that is foreseen to be needed in the country. Until that system is set up, the country will import its medicinal marijuana from other countries that produce it.
According to Russia Today, the new law will make cannabis available to over 800,000 German patients, a huge jump up from the 5,000 or so that are allowed to use marijuana sprays and drops currently and the mere 500 that have special permission from the authorities to smoke raw plant material.
Germany will be the fifth European country to legalize medical marijuana, after Portugal, Italy, the Czech Republic, and France. The wave of cannabis legalization in Europe seems nearly unstoppable now that the continent’s richest country has agreed to green-light the medicine.
The decision by Germany to begin loosening drug laws also comes right on the heels of a brand new study commissioned by the Johns Hopkins Ivy League University and The Lancet which found the five decade long international War on Drugs to be a complete failure.
Not only did the study find that all the money and resources spent on the War on Drugs made no difference in terms of drug use, they also found that it actually created a public health nightmare of its own.
“Policies meant to prohibit or greatly suppress drugs present a paradox,” the report concluded, as reported in Business Insider. “They are portrayed and defended vigorously by many policymakers as necessary to preserve public health and safety, and yet the evidence suggests that they have contributed directly and indirectly to lethal violence, communicable-disease transmission, discrimination, forced displacement, unnecessary physical pain and the undermining of people’s right to health.”
The study also took a look at Portugal and the Czeh Republic, where the decriminalization of possession and petty sale marijuana has been in effect for a couple of years. They found that not only did these countries save money and reap public health benefits, but that drug use did not go up either.