Germany close to legalizing medical cannabis

Germany, the world’s fifth-biggest economy, is expected to legalize medical marijuana in 2017.

The German cabinet approved a bill Monday that would allow medical cannabis to be used by seriously ill patients who have consulted with a physician and have no other “therapeutic alternative,” according to news reports.

Germany’s parliament must still approve the legislation. If passed, medicine will be available in flower form and as extracts, and would be sold through pharmacies.

The country’s health minister, Hermann Gröhe, told reporters he wants health insurance to pay for medical cannabis if patients have no other way to cover it themselves,  according to CNN.com.

The country’s drug commissioner emphasized that limited, medical legalization was in no way a prelude to recreational legalization.

Some German cannabis-related companies already do business in the United States, such as Storz & Bickel of Tuttlingen, which designs and produces the Volcano vaporizer. It has a subsidiary in Oakland.

Germany is the latest country to advance some form of cannabis legalization. Canada and Uruguay are close to having recreational marijuana markets, while Australia, Croatia and Macedonia have all adopted legalized medical marijuana laws in the past year. Mexico’s president last month proposed legalizing MMJ.

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