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Cutting Edge German Cannabis Possession Case Decided On Appeal

gavel courtroom court

A Lübeck appeals court has exonerated a father and son of possession on the basis of “emergency” treatment. The case may help other German patients beat criminal charges

On the last day of May, a regional appeals court in Lübeck (in the north of Germany) published what might yet become a bellwether cannabis case. As a result, it will also be important to patients across the country for at least the next 18 months until recreational cannabis reform actually kicks in. Namely, the court found that both a father who sourced hundreds of grams for his seriously ill son and the son were innocent of violations of the German Narcotics Act.

In doing so, the court annulled a District Court ruling which held that the two defendants were guilty of six counts of possessing large amounts of narcotics. The pair faced large fines.

The regional court acquitted both men because the possession of cannabis was justified under German law as an “emergency.” Namely, the son suffers from painful spasticity, the amount prescribed for the same was not sufficient to properly treat the symptoms, and the father obtained cannabis for his son to fill the gap.

What makes this case stand out is that the son needed six to seven grams of cannabis a day to properly treat symptoms (which is on the higher end of reimbursement, to begin with). Beyond this, the court also recognized that health insurance companies are increasingly stringent with cannabis approvals, even when justified.

In this case, the court ruled that any criminal penalties otherwise justified are overridden by a critical and unfilled medical need.

A Terrible Predicament

While recreational cannabis reform is clearly moving in Germany, the reality is that it cannot move fast enough for those who are, like the defendant and his caregiver in this case, chronically ill but still not covered by public healthcare. Such patients are directly in the line of fire – which has not been averted yet – by a government that recognizes that recreational reform must happen soon and medical reform is now five years old.

It is bad enough that casual recreational users are still directly in the line of federal drug charges. But for a country where medical use is theoretically legal, there needs to be an amnesty issued soon to protect those who may yet be unfortunate enough to be charged.

This case, as a result, may well show up in the defense of literally hundreds if not thousands of patients whose cases are still pending before full reform becomes the law of the land.