Over in the United States, the kinds of advances that are being made in terms of medical cannabis legislation are the envy of much of the world. While dozens of countries get to grips with even the most rudimentary medical cannabis policy, more than half of all North American states have made the move to legalise its production, distribution and use. Suffice to say, making things all the more frustrating in regions and countries where little to nothing is happening.
But then there are unusual cases like that of Germany. A recent amendment in Germany’s medical cannabis legislation entirely changed the country’s approach to the distribution and use of marijuana as medicine. Prior to the beginning of this year, no more than around 1,000 German citizens were provided with special permission to purchase medical cannabis, costing approximately £13 per gram. Nevertheless, actually getting hold of the required permission in the first place was difficult and long-winded to say the least.
Having identified the obvious problems with the system, new legislation was approved in January to make it far easier for qualifying patients to get hold of medical cannabis. To a certain extent therefore, medical cannabis was legalised to a greater extent than ever before. Which has for obvious reasons been praised as an important step in the right direction – patients in greater numbers being permitted access to the medical cannabis they need.
In the meantime however, another serious problem has started presenting itself – one that has been labelled a crisis by many health campaigners. Specifically, Germany may have opened the door to medical cannabis for more of its citizens than ever before – providing enough of the stuff to go around being another matter entirely. Quite simply, demand is outstripping supply to a dangerous extent.
As it stands, all of the medical cannabis used in Germany comes from the Netherlands or Canada. Despite the fact that cannabis is one of the easiest plants in the world to cultivate, none of Germany’s medical cannabis is currently cultivated domestically. Unfortunately, supplies from Canada were not scheduled to be available until September. In the meantime, shortages led to significant and completely unacceptable price hikes – medical cannabis costing closer to £23 per gram, having gone up in price by more than 65%.
Worse still, pharmacies are perfectly within their rights to add further fees to every gram of cannabis, in order to cover the cost of processing, packaging and so on. Which is exactly what most are choosing to do.
So on one hand, Germany has taken a solid step in the right direction with its more liberal approach to medical cannabis access. On the other, it has taken several unfortunate steps in entirely the wrong direction. With supply having fallen dangerously behind demand and prices going through the roof, it’s hardly surprising that patients in growing numbers are turning back to the black market. After all, black market cannabis dealers not only have more readily available cannabis in the first place, but are in many regions selling the stuff for significantly lower prices.
Which begs the question – how is it that illegal dealers have more medical cannabis available than the government itself, and are able to sell it for cheaper?
The answer – domestic cultivation.
Logically speaking, it is completely and utterly inexplicable as to why any government would choose to legalise medical cannabis at any level, only to then continue sourcing it from overseas. To do so simply makes things more complicated and expensive for both the government and the general public alike – everybody loses.
Suffice to say therefore, the sooner Germany begins setting a good example by cultivating its own medical cannabis, the better.