What Does CanG Mean for German Patients?

Following the Bundesrat’s approval, the “CanG” law on cannabis decriminalization took effect on April 1st, legalizing cannabis possession and home cultivation from that date forward.

What is legal now?

– Public possession of up to 25 grams of dried cannabis is legal.
– Home possession of up to 50 grams of dried cannabis is legal.
– Home cultivation of up to 3 plants, with a harvest limit of 50 grams dried flowers, is legal.

However, these legal changes also bring challenges for German patients. 

Cannabis consumption is not allowed in certain public spaces, there is a ban around kindergartens, schools, sports facilities, etc., prohibiting consumption within a 100-meter radius of these locations. Importantly, these restrictions also apply to medical cannabis patients, therefore also affecting the rules for workplace consumption. For example, teachers who are medical cannabis patients will not be permitted to use their medication at work, even in private settings, although the use of cannabis extracts may be overlooked. This reflects a misunderstanding by some politicians, who believe patients can easily switch from flower to extract forms.

Cannabis will not be listed as a prohibited narcotic drug anymore in the German “Betäubungsmittelgesetz” 

On the positive side, cannabis will no longer be listed as a prohibited narcotic drug in Germany’s drugs law. This change simplifies the prescription process for doctors, allowing them to prescribe medical cannabis more easily using standard or digital forms. Self-medicating individuals can now legally grow their own or obtain cannabis from growers’ associations. Although home cultivation is heavily regulated, it marks progress, enabling patients to legally purchase seeds or cultivation equipment without fear of police intervention.

The new regulations also bode well for the medical cannabis market in Germany, allowing manufacturers to operate at full capacity, which will likely enhance the supply chain, product availability, and price competitiveness.

Enhancing the Medical Cannabis Market and Legal Protections

With the reclassification of cannabis from a prohibited substance, accessing a prescribing physician will become significantly easier for patients in the future. Currently, being prescribed cannabis is the sole legal method to acquire it (prior to the initiation of growers’ associations) and the only situation that permits driving with THC levels above the legal threshold.

Prior to April 1st, patients lacking a willing prescriber had no choice but to resort to the black market for their medication. Now, the obstacles to obtaining a prescription are at an all-time low, thanks to specialized telemedicine services – some of them offering prescriptions for as then ten euros. However, some of these services operate in a questionable manner. On the other hand there’s too a lack of settled-down prescribing physicians. Statutory health services are still hesitant to cover costs. So there is an urgent need for accessible services. And telemedicine services fit that gap. A gap which was created by prohibition, discrimination and stigmatization.

Driver Licencses 

Additionally, patients faced the fear of losing their driving licenses if stopped by police, given Germany’s stringent limit of 1 nanogram of active THC per milliliter of blood. This threshold will increase in the future up to 3.5 nanogram of active THC per milliliter of blood.

Balancing Benefits and Restrictions with CanG

In summary, although there are some drawbacks, particularly in terms of consumption restrictions, the CanG law represents a significant step forward for German patients, with the benefits of these legislative changes outweighing the negatives. 

Beyond the previously mentioned legal updates, if patients conduct themselves with decorum and respect, thus avoiding any grounds for complaints, they stand to gain considerably from CanG’s widespread benefits. This aspect is especially pertinent in light of reservations concerning zones where consumption is prohibited. Globally, such restrictions are fairly standard, with numerous jurisdictions instituting akin measures to safeguard public areas and vulnerable zones like educational institutions and childcare centers, all the while considering patient necessities.

Gero Kohlhaas is a medical cannabis patient and board member of SCM and IACM Patient Council Germany representative.

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