The 1st of April of this year marks an important milestone in German drug and health policy. With the implementation of the new Cannabis Act, a new chapter has opened in the provision of medicinal cannabis, bringing significant improvements for both patients and healthcare professionals alike. In today’s briefing, we want to take the opportunity to outline the key changes for patients.
Facilitations in Prescription Practices

With the reclassification, meaning the removal from the Narcotics Act, medicinal cannabis becomes a “regular” prescription drug. This comes with a fundamental simplification of the prescription and dispensing process. The new regulation stipulates that prescriptions for medicinal cannabis are valid for up to 28 days for those covered by statutory health insurance, and up to three months as a private prescription. Previously, the narcotic prescription (BtM prescription) had to be presented within eight days. The new regulation provides patients with more flexibility in obtaining necessary medications, without the pressure to immediately visit a pharmacy.

The changes also bring relief for pharmacies: Longer redemption periods and the possibility to make minor adjustments or corrections to the prescription in emergencies contribute to a safe and uncomplicated supply. The option for doctors to issue cannabis as a regular (E-) prescription also facilitates access. It should be noted regarding prescriptions that existing narcotic prescriptions (BtM prescriptions) will likely no longer be reimbursed by statutory health insurance. Correction of the prescription by the treating physicians is necessary in this regard.

But not all changes are positive – and much remains the same.

It is important to realize that the new law does not solve all challenges in dealing with medical cannabis. The question of cost coverage by statutory health insurance remains unchanged for now. In the future, selected specialized doctors with specific qualifications may no longer require examination and approval by health insurance companies. The Federal Joint Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss, G-BA) is tasked with elaborating detailed provisions. Additionally, there continues to be a need for patients to prove legal possession of cannabis – especially in traffic and wherever a clear distinction from non-medical use might be necessary. This is still best achieved, for example, by presenting a prescription and ideally by documenting the prescription and application method by the treating physician.

The Cannabis Act also does not provide for a new regulation of the limits in road traffic. The recommendation for the THC limit for driving motor vehicles (3.5 nanograms per milliliter of blood serum) is so far only a much-discussed proposal. A timetable for the legal implementation of a new limit is still pending.

New is the uncertainty regarding the time and place of medicinal cannabis consumption. Unfortunately, it is currently unclear whether consumption restrictions in public spaces for recreational cannabis also apply to patients in cannabis therapy. Therefore, for the time being, it might be advisable for cannabis patients to adhere to these consumption restrictions to avoid misunderstandings.

Nevertheless, the Cannabis Act represents a significant step in cannabis therapy.

Despite the remaining questions, the new law is a great opportunity for the medical application of cannabis. It signals a paradigm shift not only in the administrative handling of this form of therapy but also in societal perception and acceptance. The simplified procedures and improved access to medical cannabis are an important step towards improving patient care.

This progress is the result of years of efforts by policymakers, healthcare stakeholders, as well as the Cansativa Group and the entire sector, all of whom have worked towards this reform. It is now crucial to closely observe how these drug policy reforms, especially the recreational cannabis regulations, interact with cannabis as medicine and what effects they will have on therapy conditions, patient care, and individual and societal approaches to therapy.

Even though the law is still viewed critically in parts, the transparency in both industry and medicine provides an important interface to break down existing prejudices and promote a thorough understanding of the importance of cannabis in medical therapy. Above all, the goal remains to promote the well-being of patients. We look optimistically towards the future and are convinced that the positive developments brought about by the new law will make a valuable contribution to improving medical care.

Anything else?

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We wish you a good read!

With legalising greetings,

Jakob Sons

Founder & Managing Director Cansativa

Benedikt Sons

Founder & Managing Director Cansativa