Germany to greatly expand its medical cannabis program

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The German parliament voted unanimously on Thursday to create a much broader medical marijuana program than the one that exists today, but the market will remain tightly controlled with limited opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs.

The new law will allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients with “serious illnesses” such as multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, appetite loss or nausea from cancer treatment.

As in other European countries, pharmacies – not cannabis-specific dispensaries – will sell medical cannabis.

Germany also reportedly will import medical marijuana initially, though officials indicated that the country eventually will allow domestic cultivation under state supervision. Private producers will be able to apply for approval to cultivate MMJ, but they should expect stiff requirements.

The cost of medical cannabis for qualified patients will covered by health insurance, according to Deustche Welle, which could help create a robust market overall.

Currently only around 1,000 Germans with serious medical conditions are permitted to use medical cannabis. The new law could boost those numbers into the tens of thousands.

According to The Local, a German news outlet, the new program will be implemented in March.