Germany’s Role in the Medical Marijuana Revolution

By Savannah Priebe

Marijuana, once almost unanimously prohibited and considered an illicit drug, is slowly becoming an accepted source of medical relief for patients across the globe.  Over the past few years the medical purpose of marijuana, and its beneficial effects have become more acknowledged.[1] As of 2016, Twenty-Six States in the United States have legalized the use of medical marijuana, including seven states that also permit the use of marijuana recreationally.[2]  Canada recognized the medical purposes of marijuana in 2001, when it decriminalized medical marijuana use under the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations (MMAR) in 2001.[3] Similarly, Colombia legalized medical marijuana in December 2015.[4]  In 2013, The Czech Republic, Romania, and France decriminalized medical marijuana.[5] Continuing the trend toward legalization of medical marijuana, on January 19, 2017, The German Parliament approved a bill to legalize the medical use of marijuana.[6] This bill had already been unanimously approved by the German Cabinet in May 2016.[7] The new law will go into effect beginning in March of 2017.[8] Under this new law patients will be able to obtain medical marijuana with a prescription to treat serious illnesses.[9] The new law will also allow patients with degenerative diseases to utilize the medicine in order to slow the progression of their disease and its side effects.[10] Medical Marijuana will be federally regulated and cultivated “for its medicinal use in the future and to ensure its quality. Until then, plants will be imported.”[11] Recreational use of marijuana in Germany is still illegal.[12]

Germany’s new legalization of medical marijuana could have a significant impact on both the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana throughout Europe, as well as the medical marijuana industry in the United States and other countries were medical marijuana is being cultivated. “Marijuana or Cannabis, is the most widely cultivated, produced, trafficked, and consumed drug worldwide.”[13] With the new scheme to be implemented by Germany, medical marijuana will be imported until such time when the German government can cultivate the crop for themselves.[14] This means that a significant amount of medical marijuana will be shipped in from one of the few countries that is currently proficient in producing medical strains of marijuana. Not only does this mean a boost in international trade and economies, but this also could create incentive for other countries to embrace the growing medical marijuana industry.

Furthermore, Germany, as one of the largest European States, has a significant influence on other European countries and the world in general. Germany is often looked to as an innovator and a leader amount the western world. The German shift toward legalization and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes can only progress the movement toward such acceptance in other nations. Not only will this open the door for more medical marijuana legalization, cultivation, and use, but also for greater acceptance of marijuana in general. Marijuana (or cannabis) is a wonderfully underrated medical tool that has benefits outnumbering any negative side effects, especially when ingested as an oil or in food, for serious illnesses as well as smaller ailments, many of which have yet to be discovered. An increased acceptance of medical marijuana for treatment of serious illnesses will create an easier path for scientists and medical professionals to study the plant and discover what other uses it may have. 

Germany’s decision to legalize medical marijuana will likely have significant lasting effects on German patients, patients in neighboring countries, and the economy of the world. The medical marijuana industry is constantly growing with each law passed supporting its use. Utilization of this potentially vast medical source by such an influential national power such as Germany will surely aid in the industries growth. Likely, after the complete medical embrace of marijuana, the movement will continue to shift toward complete acceptance of the plant for recreational use as well.

Though it may seem inconsequential that one small country has legalized the medical use of marijuana, Germany’s new laws will likely have a significant impact on the medical marijuana industry specifically, and the overall economy generally. Soon maybe all nations will be going medically green.

* * * * *

[1] Carolynn Conron, Canada's Marihuana Medical Access Regulations: Up in Smoke, 6 Alb. Gov't L. Rev. 259, 261 (2013).

[2] Governing Data, State Marijuana Laws in 2016 Map, Governing, (last visited Jan. 21, 2016).

[3] Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, SOR/2001-227 (July 2001); Kathleen Wong, Here are the Countries Where Marijuana Is Legal in Some Form, YahooNews (Feb. 2, 2016),

[4] Kathleen Wong, supra note 3.

[5] Id.

[6] Meera Senthilingam, Germany Becomes Latest Country to OK Medical Marijuana Legalization, CNN (Jan. 20, 2017, 7;14 AM),

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id. (internal quotations omitted).

[14] See Id.