With the move towards the legalization of cannabis worldwide, many people are left confused as to what the laws are in different countries concerning weed – especially visitors. Today we will tackle Germany and the latest legal status of weed there. Stay tuned to future blogs for info on other destinations.
According to the most recent World Drug Report, marijuana is consumed, cultivated, and trafficked more than any other drug in the world. Its popularity is certainly undeniable. But, its legal status has been heavily debated for years.
A lot of countries are on the fence about legalizing marijuana for recreational use. But, more research is being produced every year about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Many people have come around to supporting its legalization for medicinal purposes thanks to this research.
Medical weed laws in Germany
After much debate, the German parliament passed a law legalizing medical marijuana in January 2017. Don’t try to run off to a pharmacy just yet, though. There are some important details you need to know about that law:
1. Is the law in effect now?
The law legalizing medical marijuana went into effect in March of 2017.
2. What was the law like before?
Germans used to only be allowed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes in rare cases. The bar was set fairly high. And, patients had to go through a rigorous application process before they were legally allowed to use the drug.
Only about 1,000 people received permission to use medical weed in Germany prior to parliament’s ruling. Some people even died while waiting for their request to be processed. And, those who did get approval also had to cover the costs of treatment themselves.
3. Who can use marijuana under the current law?
Now, medical marijuana can be prescribed by a physician for any patient who is deemed “seriously ill.”
The law is not entirely clear on what “seriously ill” means. People can currently receive a medical marijuana prescription for many conditions, including:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Chronic pain
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Serious appetite loss
- Nausea from chemotherapy
Doctors can also write medical cannabis prescriptions if they see a possibility of that prescription having a positive effect on the patient. But, only those whose condition is deemed “severe” by public insurers will receive reimbursements.
It is important to note that not just anyone in Germany can have access to medical marijuana. Germany’s guidelines are must stricter than those in the United States. Doctors in Germany are very dedicated to making sure marijuana is only used for medicinal purposes.
4. Where can you get medical marijuana in Germany?
To get weed in Germany, patients must go through pharmacies to get medical marijuana. There are no dispensaries like there are in the United States. Doctors will also specify which type of cannabis a patient is allowed to use.
Experts have said that most doctors will likely prescribe their patients vaporizers, CBD oil, or THC drops instead of smoking and edible options. However, pharmacies are allowed to sell cannabis in dried bud form as well, on top of these other options.
5. Is it available to tourists?
Unless they have a prescription from a German doctor, which is pretty unlikely, weed in Germany is not available to tourists. Doctors are very strict about who can have a medical marijuana prescription.
6. How is medical marijuana produced and regulated?
Germans aren’t yet growing their own weed — at least not legally. But, plans for domestic cultivation are in the works. So are plans for regulating that cultivation.
The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices is responsible for establishing a cannabis agency in Germany. The agency will be in charge of regulating the way medical cannabis is cultivated, manufactured, and sold at pharmacies.
Germany has plans to start producing its own cannabis by 2019. Until then, it is being imported from Canada and the Netherlands. The agency will also soon start accepting bids from companies in the European Union that want to expand into the German market.
The amount of cannabis imported to Germany has increased dramatically over the years.
In 2016, Germany imported 170 kilograms of cannabis. This is nearly double the amount it brought in in 2015 — 93 kilograms. The amount of cannabis that Germany has imported from other countries will surely increase even more in response to the new law.
7. Can medical marijuana users grow their own weed in Germany?
Currently, patients are not allowed to grow their own weed. German officials want to be sure that patients are only using pharmaceutical-grade marijuana. They’ve argued that the same quality cannot be guaranteed when weed is grown at home by amateurs.
8. How much weed are patients allowed to possess?
About 90 percent of patients are covered by public health insurance. These patients can have up to about 140 grams of medical marijuana per month.
As of June 2017, over a thousand patients had registered and were using medical marijuana. It’s anticipated that an additional 5,000 to 10,000 people will join in each year.
9. How does the law affect prices?
In addition to making medical marijuana more accessible, the new law also makes it more affordable. Before the legality of medical weed in Germany was expanded, 28 grams cost around 1700 euros. Now, the price has gone down to about 10 euros per gram.
What about recreational weed?
Current marijuana laws do not allow recreational weed in Germany. But, individuals can technically possess a limited amount without being prosecuted. Right now, that amount is between 3-5 grams in most states and up to 15 grams in Berlin.
Is a law for recreational weed in Germany in the works?
There currently is no federal proposal to fully legalize weed. But, the capital of western state North Rhine-Westphalia is planning a pilot project to sell recreational cannabis to adults.
Some politicians have proposed legalizing weed as a way to bring in additional funds. But, a 2014 poll found that only 30 percent of people supported the full legalization of marijuana. Eighty percent supported it being legalized for medicinal purposes.
What are the arguments against recreational weed?
The general consensus about recreational weed is that there is not yet enough research available on the long-term effects of marijuana to justify legalizing it for recreational use. Politicians want more time to see how people respond to marijuana. They also want to figure out the best ways to regulate it.
Is it legal to buy cannabis seeds in Germany?
It is legal to buy cannabis seeds, with two caveats.
First, the seeds must be purchased from a seed bank located in the Netherlands, like Weed Seed Shop. Second, they cannot be purchased for the purpose of cultivation. If a person is caught illicitly cultivating their own cannabis, they can face up to 5 years’ imprisonment or a fine.
Is weed popular in Germany?
Much of the German population does not currently smoke weed regularly. A 2015 study found that 18 percent of men aged 15-24 reported using cannabis, compared to 10 percent of women in the same age group.
At the same time, the 2016 European Drug Report found that nearly a quarter of the German population has tried marijuana at least once.
How does Germany compare to other countries?
As far as other European countries are concerned, Germany sits somewhere in the middle when it comes to its attitude toward cannabis.
Many countries throughout Europe support decriminalization of marijuana and its legalization for medical use. But they’re less supportive when it comes to recreational use. It’s expected that this will change over time, though, as more and more countries throughout the world start to fully legalize cannabis.
Benefits of medical marijuana
Many doctors in Germany are thrilled that they are now able to prescribe marijuana to their patients legally. These doctors have good reason to be excited, too. Marijuana provides a variety of medicinal benefits.
Some conditions that marijuana has been proven to treat include:
- Eye pressure from glaucoma
- Joint pain from arthritis
- Epileptic seizures
- Pain from Multiple sclerosis
- Tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease
- Inflammation from Crohn’s and other inflammatory bowel diseases
- Pain and nausea from chemotherapy
Better than opioids
Marijuana doesn’t just treat a variety of illnesses. It has also been proven to help with the withdrawal symptoms that opioid addicts are suffering from.
Europe has seen a frightening increase in deaths related to opioid overdoses. In 2015, 15 percent of those deaths were in Germany (a nine percent increase from 2014. The only country with a higher percentage was Britain, with 31 percent.
The legalization of weed in Germany will hopefully decrease the number of overdose-related deaths in the country.
Cannabis can actually be prescribed to treat a number of the same conditions as prescription painkillers. It can also be used to treat opioid addiction. Studies have shown that cannabis helps minimize withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings.
Why vaping and drops over smoking?
As stated above, doctors in Germany are more likely to have their patients vaporizing marijuana or consume it as an oil, rather than having them smoke it or consume it through edibles. There are a lot of reasons for this distinction.
1. Fewer health risks
Smoking marijuana can be harmful to your lungs — although it’s not as harmful as tobacco. Vaporizing, on the other hand, allows you to get the same effects as smoking would, without exposing you to any actual smoke. A vaporizer only heats the product, it doesn’t actually burn it.
Cannabis oil and CBD oil also have the benefit of not harming your lungs. And the fact that, unlike vaping, it doesn’t even look like smoking is an extra benefit that makes it possible to prescribe to children and the elderly.
2. Easier dosing
People who don’t enjoy smoking or vaping often turn to edibles as a way to consume marijuana. While there are benefits that come with using edibles, the correct dosage can be more difficult to figure out.
This can be explained by the fact that marijuana is absorbed much more slowly by the stomach than it is by the lungs. Its effects can be delayed by up to an hour, and absorption tends to be uneven. This is because cannabinoids are metabolized by the liver before they enter the bloodstream.
So, edibles are often inefficient and not the best method for those looking for pain relief or other medicinal benefits.
The lungs absorb cannabinoids in a matter of seconds, which is why vaporizing can lead to almost instant relief for patients. It’s also easier to control dosing through vaporizing, because patients can simply stop inhaling once the desired effect has been achieved.
3. No psychoactive properties
There are two main cannabinoids present in marijuana: THC and CBD.
THC is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, and it interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain. These receptors exist in the central nervous and immune systems, respectively. They influence things like pleasure, appetite, memory, concentration, and pain sensations.
CBD, on the other hand, does not have psychoactive properties. Instead, it has a calming effect and interacts with receptors like serotonin and adenosine. These receptors regulate the body’s temperature, pain sensations, and inflammation.
Because of the positive effects of CBD, CBD oil is often considered to be a better option for people who struggle with anxiety, or are simply avoiding the psychoactive properties of THC. CBD oil’s anti-inflammatory properties also make it ideal for people with arthritis.
Marijuana provides a number of medicinal benefits. Now, Germany’s citizens are able to experience those benefits.
The jury’s still out on recreational use for weed in Germany. But, the fact that so many people there can now experience relief from pain and other ailments is something that should be celebrated!