Global Cannabis: Germany

Germany

Like Neuschwanstein Castle looms over Schwangau, Germany’s medical marijuana market dwarfs that of other European nations. Photo by Rachel Davis

Milestones in the Medical Cannabis Program

  • Germany established the current regulatory framework for its medical cannabis program in March 2017. It replaced a more restrictive program that had been in place for years.

 

Key Laws and Regulations

  • Amendment of the German Narcotic Law, implemented in March 2017
  • Narcotics Act
  • Medicinal Products Act
  • Pharmacy Law

 

Market Data

  • No centralized registry of patients exists.
  • Total imports of flower for pharmacy dispensing were roughly 1,200 kilograms (2,646 pounds) in 2017, 3,000 kilograms in 2018 and 2,500 kilograms during the first half of 2019.
  • The retail price of MMJ flower is about $22 (20 euros) per gram, of which half is pharmacy markup and taxes.

 

Medical Cannabis Products Available in the Market

With marketing authorization:

  • Sativex to treat multiple sclerosis.
  • Canemes to treat nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Without marketing authorization:

  • Pharmaceutical products such as Marinol can be imported, though the generic version, dronabinol, is locally produced and less expensive.
  • Dronabinol preparations.
  • Cannabis flower and full-spectrum extracts.

 

North American Companies in the Market

Domestic Producers:

  • Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis.
  • Ontario-based Aphria.
  • British Columbia-based Wayland, through its joint venture with Demecan.
  • Ontario-based Canopy Growth is manufacturing dronabinol through C3, formerly the cannabinoid division of the German firm Bionorica.

Exporting flower or full-spectrum extracts to Germany:

  • Canopy Growth.
  • Aurora Cannabis.
  • Ontario-based Cronos Group.
  • British Columbia-based Tilray.
  • Ontario-based TerrAscend.

 

Big Picture

  • Germany is the largest medical marijuana market outside North America, exceeding the combined sales of other European nations.
  • Until March 2017, access was restricted, with only about 1,000 authorized patients in the country. But things changed that year, creating a significant export opportunity to supply a market that, for the time being, depends exclusively on imported product.
  • The current framework authorizes the prescription of different types of products and, in general, requires statutory health insurers to reimburse patients.
  • Patients must have a serious condition to qualify. Most MMJ prescriptions are for treating chronic pain. Cannabis should be prescribed only as last resort.
  • Patients must apply to receive insurance reimbursement. About two-thirds of reimbursement applications are accepted.
  • Three companies recently were selected to grow domestically and will be allowed to cultivate a total of 2,600 kilograms per year for a period of four years (with the possibility of increasing 10% per year, with government approval). The first harvest is expected in late 2020. Until then, imports will be necessary—and could continue after the start of domestic cultivation.

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