Medical cannabis has seen a rather dramatic political renaissance over the past two decades. Until California passed Proposition 215, there were no states with legal marijuana. Today, 28 states and Washington, D.C., have legal marijuana while medical use has supermajority support among American voters. Medicinal use laws clearly help increase the support for adult use by non-patients as more people become educated about cannabis use. Medical cannabis laws have also been implemented  around the globe, with nations like Canada and Germany instituting federal policies. In 2017, Germany will hopefully be a trendsetter by allowing health insurance policies cover the cost of patients’ medical cannabis.

MerryJane.com covered Germany’s recent progress on the medical front:

The Federal Ministry of Health initiated a new medical cannabis bill and is currently awaiting approval from the German Bundestag, the country’s national parliament. Headed by the current Federal Health Minister Hermann Groehe, the objective of the measure is to make medicinal cannabis flower and extracts available to seriously ill patients from local drug stores throughout the country. In addition, the program will ensure that the medical marijuana will be cultivated in Germany at the highest quality possible, and will also be covered under the country’s health insurance.

Medical cannabis is just now becoming accepted by and integrated into the platforms of various political parties in Germany, such as the Green Party, the Left Party, and the Free Democratic Party, but the fight for a properly regulated system has been happening for a couple of decades.

While it is great that states and countries pass laws that protect patients ability to cultivate, possess and purchase cannabis, these laws are incomplete so long as there are patients without safe access. Current medical marijuana laws are wonderful for patients that have their own garden and have the means to purchase cannabis from their local dispensary or pharmacy. Patients battling poverty shouldn’t have to go without their medicine, so it is crucial that advocates work to ensure safe access for all patients by lobbying for laws that treat cannabis the same as other medicines, including health insurance coverage, or alternatively, set up a low-income patient program for patients in need.

I, and other Oregon advocates, are hopeful to lay the groundwork for a low-income patient program in Oregon, potentially using recreational tax revenue to help poverty-stricken patients acquire cannabis. Over time, it is a must that health insurance programs cover patients’ medical cannabis, so Germany might just lead the way on this important policy fight.

I am really looking forward to learning more about Germany’s federal policy at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin on April 10th thru the 12th. If Germany’s policy to provide health insurance coverage for medical cannabis is deemed a success and the nation would likely see a reduction in opioid overdoses, among other benefits, it would be great to see other states and nations follow suit and provide true safe access for all patients, regardless of income.