Since March 2017 seriously ill patients are entitled to receive medical treatment with cannabis at the expense of health insurance funds in Germany. Home-growing of cannabis and passing on the medication to third parties is prohibited. Cannabis pharmaceuticals can be carried along when travelling abroad in case certain regulations are met. Well-adjusted patients may generally even participate in traffic.
What group of patients can be prescribed cannabis?
Since the commencement of the law for the change of the regulations considering narcotics, cannabis is classified as prescription narcotic drug listed in Schedule III (as defined by the German Narcotics Drug Act). Hence, since March 10th 2017 in Germany statutory insured patients suffering from a severe disease are entitled to treatment with cannabis (flowers or extracts in standardized quality). A disease is defined as severe when it is life-threatening or seriously affecting quality of life (see Art. 34 Sec. 1 SGB V and Art. 35 Sec. 2 SGB V (SGB: German Social Security Statue Book)).
Obviously, the home-growing of cannabis as well as passing on the medication to third parties is still prohibited.
What do cannabis patients need to consider when travelling abroad?
Since a change in the ordinance concerning the Foreign Trade in Narcotics (“Betäubungsmittel-Außenhandelsverordnung”, BtMAHV), cannabis medication can be carried along in necessary amounts like any other therapeutically prescribed narcotic drug. To this end, an EU-wide valid form according to Article 75 of the Schengen Implementing Convention is necessary, it has to be certified by the respective federal authority. Alternatively, a form can be obtained from the Federal Opium Agency. In addition, each traveler should enquire at the respective consulate or embassy of the respective destination country, whether or not it is possible to enter with the medication.
May cannabis patients drive cars?
The legal situation regarding the roadworthiness of patients under cannabis medication is currently vague. However, common sense should suffice to realize that especially in the beginning of a therapy with cannabis (where psychomotoric side-effects may occur) one should refrain from operating vehicles and heavy machines altogether. Whether or not well-adjusted patients can actively take part in traffic should be decided together by the physician and patient in each individual case. In a leaflet of the German Federal Government they assure that cannabis patients may not be sanctioned according to Art. 24a Sec. 2 StVG (German Road Traffic Law), as long as the medication is used as intended. The German Cannabis Association started a general discussion regarding the handling of cannabis in traffic in their campaign „Klarer Kopf, klare Regeln“ („Clear head, clear rules“).