Failures in the system of distribution of therapeutic hemp in Germany
Last Sunday was the second anniversary of the onset of the legalization of therapeutic cannabis in Germany. Despite the rather long period since the onset of the reform, as well as the reputation of Germany as the first European Union country to create a formal system for the spread of therapeutic cannabis, the situation on the regional market of legal cannabis is rather pitiable: The system continues to suffer from a shortage of products due to the continuing lack of local production plants and extracts, extremely high prices per gram of hemp, as well as stigmatization of the plant as a drug.
Recall that on March 10, 2017, the German parliament supported the immediate activation of the therapeutic cannabis distribution system, allowing citizens of the country to legally purchase cannabis or medicines based on it in the country’s pharmacies, subject to appropriate recommendations from the attending physician.
Cannabis market possibilities
It is quite obvious that the opening of such a large market was accompanied by an intense business boom: Just overnight, the country, previously inaccessible for legal cannabis business, became an extremely attractive region for doing business and developing a production base for supplying the markets of neighboring countries with medical cannabis. Accordingly, in the large cities of the country, many local and foreign companies engaged in the import of cannabis extracts have settled, thanks to the labor of which, by the end of the year, a full-fledged market for therapeutic marijuana formed in Germany, serving the needs of more than several tens of thousands of certified consumers suffering from various chronic diseases .
It is worth noting that before the liberalization of legislation on cannabis, in the medical marijuana distribution system that existed in the country, there were a little less than 1000 patients. According to the German Association of Hemp Business (DHV) by the end of the year, the number of participants in the system grew to almost 60,000 people, who received approximately 142,000 unique permits to purchase hemp products during the year. Over the period since the formal legalization of therapeutic hemp, the number of participants in the system has more than tripled.
At the same time, some experts, like Dr. Andreas Kiefer, the CEO of the State Institute for Testing Pharmaceuticals, suggest that many potential users of therapeutic cannabis still cannot gain access to the market, due to legal restrictions allowing only patients to hemp, suffering from serious and chronic diseases. “It’s hard to name the exact number of potential participants in the system, but, in principle, several million people could accurately derive therapeutic benefits from open access to medical marijuana,” he notes. According to Dr. Kiefer, in addition to such legal restrictions, many potential participants in the system cannot access it, because of opposition from doctors, Many of them still consider cannabis to be a “recreational drug,” which has no real medical use, despite government approval and a lot of research confirming its therapeutic effects. “Until we provide doctors with a quality education in the use of cannabis medicine, they will continue to be skeptical about recommending its use,” says the doctor.
In addition, hemp is a fairly expensive imported product, additionally taxable and excise. For this reason, many patients prefer to purchase products with their health insurance. Unfortunately, at the moment, only a few large insurance companies, such as AOK-Bundesverband, Barmer, Techniker and DAK-Gesundhei, often quite meticulously suited to spending money on this form of “alternative therapy”, provide such a package of services. In any case, insurers reject about a third of requests for compensation for the cost of hemp drugs, which creates additional barriers between the market and its potential customers.
Lack of local hemp production:
The most significant disadvantage of the German medical system is the fact that in the two years of its operation, the government of the country could not organize local production of cannabis plants, as a result, a growing number of consumers have to rely on regular and expensive supplies of hemp drugs from other European countries ( mainly from the Netherlands), as well as from Canada.
It is quite obvious that German consumers pay for a standard dosage of cannabis drugs, on average, twice as large as consumers living in the Netherlands or other countries in the world with their own base for plant production. For this reason, many pharmacies that are obliged to keep a supply of therapeutic cannabis with them, in fact, deliver the product exclusively on the order of local consumers, since the purchase and import of a foreign product can cost them a very large amount.
Of course, it is quite possible that the situation will soon change for the better, though not because of the organization of local plantations, but in view of the increase in mass exports of cannabis from Canada and Israel, whose authorities have relatively recently concluded agreements with the German government on the monthly import of fixed lots of cannabis and her extracts.
Israel, the birthplace of the “father of cannabis medicine”
Raul Meshulam, who discovered the THC and CBD molecules in 1964, is rather optimistic about the trade agreement with Germany, finally approved and put into effect by the Knesset at the beginning of this year, after a lengthy debate. According to representatives of the Ministry of Health of Israel, for the year, the country produces about 18 tons of hemp, which is more than enough to supply the needs of local consumers. “Despite the fact that we produce about 50,000 units of therapeutic extract per month, the company’s storage facilities are still full of fresh and high-quality cannabis buds. Therefore. It seems to me that we will be able to successfully supply not only the needs of German consumers, but also sell large quantities of medicines in several other European countries “,
“In the event of a further increase in demand for our product, we will be able to speed up the production of extracts by launching a processing plant in several shifts, or by completing new plantations and plants to increase the total production. Representatives of other cannabis companies in the country also agree that by working together we can strengthen our presence in Germany and other potential markets in Europe, which will provide both us and the country as a whole a new stable and extremely profitable source of income.”
– Mr. Seagal said.
Global cannabis ban
Despite the fact that hemp remains under a global ban, in view of the UN conventions, over the past 20 years, scientists and physicians have made significant progress in studying the therapeutic properties of the plant. Available data clearly indicate that cannabis and its extracts are extremely effective, affordable and safe for the health of the treatment of chronic pain, muscle spasticity, as well as epilepsy, in its various forms. In addition, many doctors also recommend the use of cannabis as an additional means of treatment during chemotherapy of cancer, as well as an “experimental” method of treating a number of mental illnesses, such as increased nervousness, chronic depression and post-traumatic personality disorder. However, despite these facts, as well as a rather long history of using the plant in traditional medicine of many nations of the world, the authorities of Germany, like many other countries of the world, are still extremely skeptical about the legalization of wide public access to its use, which hinders the growth of efficiency and overall coverage of the country’s system.
“Unfortunately, many officials and politicians still do not look at the question of legalizing cannabis through the prism of science, preferring to rely on images created by outdated and inaccurate propaganda about the dangers of consuming this plant,” the report of the insurance company Barmer Krankenversicherung correctly points out legal market in Germany. Still extremely skeptical about the legalization of wide access of the population to its use, which hinders the growth of efficiency and the general coverage of the country’s system.