I really should get down to the bookies to see if they’ll take wagers on this.
Everytime a new jurisdiction promises the world on cannabis and then roll it back to a format that just encourages the un-regulated market even further.
Business of Cannabis has the lowdown on Germany’s failure to get the whole shebang across the line with the excuse that the problem lies with the EU.
Yesterday Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) said it no longer expected a fully legalised cannabis market to be rolled out in the near future.
According to German political news publication Der Speigel, the SPD, part of the country’s ruling ‘traffic light’ coalition, has said it believes ‘comprehensive legalisation is obviously not feasible in the short term for reasons of European law’.
The news comes just weeks after the Health Minister Karl Lauterbach made headlines by stating his feedback from the EU was ‘very good’, and he expected to publish his draft law in a few weeks.
While this will come as a blow for many businesses and investors positioning themselves to capitalise on the promise of an adult-use market, others operating within its medical cannabis space are breathing a sigh of relief, after threats of major reform ultimately came to nothing.
Changes to medical cannabis framework
Earlier this month, Business of Cannabis reported that the G-BA was set to announce major changes to the country’s medical cannabis framework, potentially making it far more difficult for patients to have their prescriptions reimbursed.
Under the proposals put forward in October 2022, the G-BA would have made medical cannabis the very last option for patients, who would have needed to prove that they have tried and failed to be treated with alternative medicines, while extracts would have been heavily favoured, with the prescription of cannabis flowers needing to be specially justified.
More crucially, general practitioners without additional qualifications would have been able to prescribe medical cannabis in exceptional cases only, further reducing access.
However, in the hearing held on Thursday, March 16, the G-BA rolled back on almost all its heavily criticised proposals, in what has been described as a ‘win’ for patients, doctors and the industry at large.
The Co-founder and Managing Director of German medical cannabis pharmaceutical wholesaler AlephSana, Boris Moshkovits, explained: “In essence, the new regulation is following more or less the framework of the initial regulation.”
After ‘intense discussions’ at the hearing, the two ‘critical points’ on GPs’ right to prescribe and questions regarding the mode of delivery remained unchanged, other than ‘one sentence added in the regulation’.
According to Mr Moshkovits, this could lead to ‘more complicated access’ to medical cannabis, as prescribers are now required to check if finished products like Sativex, Canames or Epidyolex could be prescribed instead of dried flower or extract.
“This is a crucial point for patients with reimbursement, as they (or more so the prescriber) must argue that dried flower or extract can help them better. For patients paying out of pocket, nothing should really change.
“Another rather positive development is that patients in a critical condition, after surgery and in palliative care have to hear back on the cost reimbursement within three days and can only be refused for important reasons. That will probably mean easier access for these patients.”
Cannovum’s CEO Pia Marten told Business of Cannabis: “I think I can speak for myself, Cannovum and probably for the entire medical cannabis industry when I say that we’re very pleased with the outcome of the directive.
“We’re pleased that they actually heard all those doctors and patient advocates, and made sure that access to cannabis-based medicines is still there… another key takeaway for me was that the G-BA directive really emphasises patient safety.
“I think there’s also a need to make sure that patients are cared for in light of upcoming legalisation. I think it’s an important sign that medical cannabis is here to stay in Germany, and they do not disregard it just as a recreational drug. I think this will also highly impact what is going to happen in the recreational market.”
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