• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Medicinal cannabis users challenge ban

DPA/The Local · 9 Jul 2014, 12:49

Published: 09 Jul 2014 12:49 GMT+02:00

The hearing, which began in Cologne on Tuesday, centres on five middle-aged men who were prescribed the drug by doctors to ease their condition after all other treatments failed.

Although personal cultivation of cannabis is illegal in Germany, the court will rule on the group's demand to be allowed to grow the plant at home because of the high cost of buying it at pharmacies.

The typical monthly outlay of one of the men was €800-€1000. His income is €1500, a lawyer representing the group said. But the state health insurance system refuses to reimburse the cost, prompting the men to seek a legal exemption to grow their own.

Two of the five suffer from multiple sclerosis and two from unspecified acute pain. The fifth suffers from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), for which some pre-clinical studies indicate that cannabis effectively alleviates anxiety, depression, insomnia and mood swings.

Currently, 270 people in Germany hold permits to buy and consume cannabis for medical purposes.

High time for change?

The presiding judge, Andreas Fleischfresser, reiterated at Tuesday's hearing that the law does not prohibit the medical use of cannabis, which is a proven pain reliever.

But neither Germany nor international law has any provision for patients to grow their own plants, he said.

Independent of the court's decision, the final say in the matter will, however, lie with the Federal Institute for Medicine and Medicinal Products in Bonn, which has so far vetoed the move despite at least one earlier court ruling in favour.

The main objection is that home cultivated plants can be of inferior quality and potentially harm the consumer's health.

'Greenhouse effect'

In the case of one of the five men, officials of the institute said he would need to grow 25 individual plants to gather the 100 grammes of cannabis he consumes each month to ease his pain.

But the man is still insisting he should be allowed to convert one of the two rooms in his apartment to make enough space for the crop.

The plants could be nurtured using grow lamps and other cultivation equipment, which are legally sold in Germany despite the ban on actually using them to grow cannabis.

But as well as citing legislative obstacles, authorities say he would have to keep each plant in a special reinforced safety box as a precaution against theft.

Even if these conditions are observed, no permission to grow the plant has yet been issued, stressed court spokesman Raphael Murmann-Suchan.

In June, a court in Münster ruled that it would be legal to grow plants for personal medication. But this was also ultimately blocked by the Bonn institute.

The Cologne court is due to announce its ruling on July 22nd.

Story continues below…

Legalize?

The case has also stirred a fresh swell of arguments for and against broader legalization of the soft drug, which is widely used in Germany for recreational purposes.

"When will this ridiculous, manipulated debate finally end? These are just plants," one reader commented on a report of the court case published by the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.

Others predicted authorities would never yield in the medicinal sphere because of pressure from the pharmaceutical industry. And some said the ban should never be lifted anyway because soft drug use may lead to highly addictive drugs like crystal meth, use of which is rising in Germany.

"Considering how many young people are using [cannabis], there should be moves to impose far greater control," wrote another reader.

SEE ALSO: Drug claims mount against top politician

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

What are Merkel's chances for remaining Chancellor?
Photo: DPA.

She's already held the Chancellery for over a decade, but infighting with political allies as well as a rocky response to her refugee policies may put a damper on Angela Merkel's staying power.

German EU commissioner doubts Brexit will happen
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: EPA.

Germany's EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger raised doubts on Tuesday about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn't bet on "Brexit".

Merkel offers Russia a lifting of sanctions - if it behaves
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she has "the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions" against Russia, Reuters reports.

'Idiot' youth lets regional train drive over him as dare
Photo: DPA

In a stunt police have described as "incomprehensible idiocy," a drunk young man from Munich lay down on the tracks in front of a fast-moving train and let it ride over him.

'Unfriendly' Germans make expat life harder: report
Photo: Pexels.com

Expats in Germany generally find it great for families and starting a career, but were turned off by the language barriers and "unfriendly" Germans upon arrival, according to a new report.

Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
7,595
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd