A new study analyzes the Canadian experience on the regulation of marijuana with an eye to making Germany’s regulation of marijuana more like Canada’s.
The study compares Canada’s approach to legalizing medical marijuana with that carried out in Israel. Currently, the Israeli government regulates the distribution of cannabis for medical purposes, with only a select few physicians licensed to prescribe and a handful of growers producing the drug.
But a recent statement from the Israeli Health Ministry suggests regulations are about to become less restrictive, allowing more growers and sellers into the market. According to the report, Health Minister Yakov Litzman plans to “revolutionize” the medical marijuana trade in Israel.
Here in Canada, regulations were established in 2001 to give Canadians access to pot for medical purposes. The process requires consultation with and documentation from a licensed healthcare practitioner, followed by registration with a licensed producer. Currently, there are about 500,000 Canadians over the age of 25 using medical cannabis, according to a Health Canada survey.
The study’s authors conclude that given the relative effectiveness and safety of both the Canadian and Israeli systems, Germany should go ahead with regulation. The study advocates that patients using medical marijuana should have the costs reimbursed by health insurers but that patients themselves should not be allowed to grow the drug. The German Ministry of Health should also further define the contraindications for the medical use of cannabis.
According to an recent article in the Telegraph, the German Ministry of Health has drafted a bill that would create regulated access to cannabis on a prescription basis. Marlene Mortler, Germany’s federal commissioner on drugs has supported the idea of allowing chronically-ill patients suffering from pain to legally obtain cannabis. “It is our goal that in the future, more people in Germany will be able to receive cannabis as medicine than has been the case until now,” said Ms. Mortler.
Up to this point, only a small number of German citizens have been legally authorized to obtain cannabis, and those cases have almost all involved patients suffering from pain due to terminal cancer.
In Canada, the Trudeau liberals campaigned on a promise to legalize pot for recreational use, and in a recent radio interview in Vancouver, Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose declared that while the Conservative Party’s position hasn’t changed, she is hoping that the current government’s intentions on legalization are carried out as soon as possible, urging that there needs to be better regulation of pot dispensaries.
“I hope that the faster they move on this the better, because the proliferation of pot dispensaries is quite large … and they’re unregulated, so the sooner they can move on that the better to protect kids,” said Ms. Ambrose.
The study of Germany’s regulation of marijuana was published this month in the journal, Schmerz, an international periodical dedicated to research on pain and pain management. The study was a joint effort on the part of researchers from Israel, Germany and from McGill University in Montreal.