Germany: Lawmakers ready to approve use of medical marijuana

18 08 2010

Medical cannabis will be available in Germany soon, with the center-right coalition preparing to make groundbreaking changes to drug laws, a government health spokeswoman said this week.

A gem of German technology

Cannabis was illegal throughout Germany until the federal constitutional court decided on 28 April 1994 that people need no longer be prosecuted for possession of soft drugs for personal use. Since then, most German regional governments have tolerated the sale and use of soft drugs.

In some cities, cannabis supply is now tolerated in a similar way to the Netherlands. In other places the courts still treat possession as an offense. For example, in one state, Schleswig-Holstein, no charges are usually brought for possession of less than 30 g, but in Thuringia people are prosecuted for possessing even tiny amounts.

In March 1999, Germany’s drug tsar, Christa Nickels, said she considered it sensible to use cannabis products such as marijuana and hashish for therapeutic purposes in medicine.

With the new law coming, doctors could write prescriptions for cannabis, and pharmacies would be authorised to sell the plant once the law had been adjusted, a member of the junior coalition party, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), said Monday.

Marijuana would also be permitted for use as a pain reliever for the terminally ill in hospices and other care facilities, making it a legal part of their emergency pain-relief stocks.

The new law will end a long-running struggle between German officials, doctors and health insurers over use of the proven herbal therapy for treating the pain stemming from diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis.

According to the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (ACM), only 40 patients in the country are currently allowed a medical marijuana prescription – even though law enforcement generally tolerates small amounts for personal use.

Almost two years ago, the conservative Christian Democrats, the FDP and the center-left Social Democrats all voted against loosening medical cannabis laws. Opponents had warned of the drug’s alleged potential for addiction and doubted its medical benefits.

Sources: Student BMJ

The Local





The EU back the ban on coffee shops for tourists

22 07 2010

Its name may be synonymous with European unity ‑ but increasingly its coffee shops are not.

Moves by the Dutch border town of Maastricht to ban foreigners from its marijuana cafes have been upheld by the European court, in a rare contravention of EU laws governing free markets and free movement of people.

In response to what it terms an influx of hordes of weed-seeking tourists, mainly from Belgium and France, Maastricht decided to limit admission to coffee shops to Dutch residents only. Every day, some 4,000 tourists in search of the perfect smoke enter Maastricht, according to the major of the town. Some 70% of the town’s coffee-shop customers come from across the border.

Marc Josemans, owner and chairman of the Association of Official Maastricht Coffee Shops, brought a legal challenge before the Dutch council of state, arguing that a ban contravenes European legislation on free movement and free trade in goods and services within the EU. The council asked the European court of justice for its interpretation of EU law, which it will then employ in its ruling expected at the end of this year.

In his finding, the EU court’s advocate general, Yve Bot, said that narcotics do not count as regular goods because they are against the law. “Narcotics, including cannabis, are not goods like others and their sale does not benefit from the freedoms of movement guaranteed by European Union law, inasmuch as their sale is unlawful,” he said.

He did add however that in cases of their medical or scientific use, marijuana does “come under internal market rules”.

The court said that Maastricht was right to view drug tourism as “a genuine and sufficiently serious threat to public order”, and thus the restriction of foreigners from coffee shops “constitutes a measure necessary to protect the residents of the municipality from trouble”.

The finding concluded by saying that backpackers descending upon the Netherlands for a weekend of exuberance and oblivion endangered the European Union’s security. “Drug tourism, in so far as it conceals, in actual fact, international trade in narcotics and fuels organised criminal activities, threatens even the European Union’s internal security,” it said.

Author: Leigh Phillips

Source: The Guardian








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