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Experts and patients criticize: Cannabis hardly available on prescription
A law came into force in Germany in March that is intended to help make certain patients' access to medical cannabis easier. But apparently the new regulation has brought little improvement for pain patients. On the contrary: for some sick people the situation worsened.
Cannabis by prescription
A new law has been in force in Germany since March 10, 2017, which is intended to make it easier for the seriously ill to receive cannabis by prescription. The new regulation provides for full coverage of health insurance costs. In the meantime, however, criticism has arisen. The new law regulating cannabis preparations has so far brought little improvement for pain patients. For some, the situation has even worsened since the new regulation.
New law to help seriously ill people
Since March, doctors in Germany have been able to prescribe cannabis preparations when all other treatment options have been exhausted. Even before the law was passed, marijuana was used in Germany for medical purposes.
However, the patients needed a special permit, which had to be issued by the responsible Federal Office for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM). Such a permit was given to around a thousand seriously ill people.
With the new law, this exemption is no longer necessary. If you have statutory health insurance and are prescribed medical marijuana, you are entitled to reimbursement of costs from your health insurance company.
"However, the insured must declare their willingness to take part in accompanying research," says the Federal Government's statement.
Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe said: “Seriously ill people have to be given the best possible care. This includes that the costs of cannabis as medicine for the seriously ill are covered by their health insurance if they cannot be helped effectively. "
But obviously there can be no question of the best possible care.
The situation of patients has partly worsened
As the chairman of the “Cannabis as Medicine” working group, the doctor Franjo Grotenhermen, said according to a message from the dpa news agency, the new law has so far not led to an improvement for many patients.
Affected people would first have to find a doctor who prescribes anything at all. And then the first prescription for each patient had to be approved by the health insurance companies. It is often denied.
In addition, according to Grotenhermen, doctors are at risk of recourse due to the high cost of cannabis because their budget is exceeded. The administrative burden for physicians with cannabis patients is great overall. "Politicians have to make improvements there," said the doctor.
The self-help network Cannabis Medicine (SCM) goes one step further in the criticism.
In a "protest mailer" they write that it has now emerged "that the overwhelming majority of the often overwhelmed patients are faced with new hurdles and stumbling blocks and for many of the patients who have been able to purchase their cannabis in pharmacies up to now due to a federal opium permit, the situation has even deteriorated drastically ”.
They also point out that many doctors refuse to prescribe cannabis because they are sometimes afraid of claims by the health insurance companies.
Cannabis helps with numerous diseases
A federal government cannabis agency takes care of the import of medical cannabis medicines. Depending on requirements, it also awards orders for the cultivation of medicinal hemp.
From 2019, the agency wants to have marijuana grown in Germany. In the years 2021 and 2022, 2,000 kilograms of cannabis are to be harvested in this country.
Scientific diseases have also shown which diseases cannabis helps with.
According to the German Hemp Association, the five most common diagnoses for which German patients received an exceptional license to buy and own medical cannabis were chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, Tourette syndrome and depressive disorders.
In addition, marijuana can suppress nausea and vomiting with chemotherapy and stimulate the appetite for AIDS.
Cannabis is also said to be helpful against migraines. It is also known that marijuana widens the bronchial tubes and can improve the breathing of asthma patients. But the intoxicant should not be smoked as a joint with tobacco. (ad)