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Setbacks In Germany Due to Delays on Forward Reform

There was much excitement in Germany last September in the German cannabis industry, in particular, when the new “Traffic Light Coalition” announced that they would finally tackle the particulars of full recreational cannabis legalization.

The anticipation of spring is starting to set in, but Germany’s excitement seems to be waning with government officials stating repeatedly that other pressing issues (covid to the Russian-Ukraine conflict) are more important. 

Despite this, there are still significant issues for patients and the industry.

This is why, according to Kai-Friedrich Niermann, an industry specialist lawyer now pursuing a legal case against the German government on behalf of his clients to clarify rules on the importing of hemp: “The case for full and final reform is made every day, right now. The courts and regulatory agencies. There are many issues that will only be addressed by normalization of this market.”

Recessions in the Industry

Cansativa Frankfurt (the firm that received the BfArM-issued (monopoly) contract to distribute German medical marijuana) is all too excited about recreational cannabis’ arrival. This is despite the fact that it is only a matter of time before recreational pot becomes legal. Beyond this, the medical industry is suffering from several big issues, starting with the expense of cannabinoid treatments, not to mention the government and health insurers’ reluctance to pay for them. 

The Karlsruhe Social Court decided Monday in a case that will undoubtedly generate more challenges than it sets case law. It ruled that only exceptional circumstances and strict conditions are allowed for patients to receive these medicines. The fact that doctors are still at risk is also not overlooked.

Ärzte, They, or “German doctors” as they are known in Germany face the responsibility of paying for drugs prescribed to their patients when there is no insurance coverage. One presumes that any doctor taking that risk would be well-versed in the “last option” discussion already.

Plaintiff filed suit against defendant Medizinische Dienst Krankensicherung or MDK (the state-by-state arm of the public/private coalition that ultimately decides on medical cannabis approvals) and the patient’s health insurance company after he was denied compensation for an oral cannabis spray. 

His patient, a 27-year old man from Germany, suffered from chronic pain syndrome. This is the most prevalent reason that medical cannabis has been approved and prescribed in Germany. He stated that the patient was unable to relieve his pain in the back or legs using other therapies. According to 2017 law, this is the test used.

But, the court decided that there should be other options.

Here, the response has been quick from the cannabis industry. “There are several things that need a dire update,” said Lisa Haag. Haag, a Berlin-based patient advocate and consultant and CEO of MJUniverse GmbH is responsible for organizing educational events about cannabis. It also helps pharmaceutical companies better understand it. 

“These are awfully high if not contradictory barriers,” said Haag. “Why can’t the other suggested treatments happen in combo with cannabis? This is not the only contradiction in this direction. They make you cease cannabis treatment, as suggested by the court. This is insane. The expensive bureaucratic processes are still prohibiting access.” 

Haag pointed out that this was only one court case and that others had stressed the responsibility of the doctor for therapy. Most people expect that the patient will appeal against the tongue-twisting. Landessozialgericht in Baden-Wurttemberg.

In addition to this decision on the medical discussion, there has been another setback for the industry—this time on the industrial hemp side. Leag, a German energy company, announced that its 2-year experiment in hemp cultivation on open-cast mining areas was being halted. Leag had been conducting the cultivation experiment to find out if there were new avenues of business that could be created by the hemp plant’s cultivation, which might include products made from industrial hemp.

The company also stated that it would revisit its decision if there was a “changed framework conditions or new developments that make the new line of business attractive and economically profitable again.”

“It is precisely these kinds of problems we report to the government, as it needs to know about them and begin to prioritize the passing of the law,” said Kai-Friedrich Niermann. “I won’t have as much litigation work of this kind, but for that I will not be sorry.”