Medical Cannabis and Political Promises in Germany: 2021 Update

With the recent German election of 2021, there has been a noticeable uptick in excitement about the future of both medical and potentially recreational cannabis in the country. Cannabis did break into the electoral debates, but will the new political environment and forming coalition support any progressive legislative changes?


Germany is already serving as a model for a controlled, prescribed, and relatively efficient medical cannabis market, although access is still limited. 


As RYAH enters into a partnership with Four 20 Pharma for a new medical cannabis observational study, it\’s worth taking a look at the updated predictions for the German market. 


Many analysts are expecting big things in the near future for Germany. It merits  reviewing what\’s rolling out in the EU\’s largest economy. 


German Medical Cannabis by the Numbers


Thanks to the excellent reporting compiled and translated by Prohibition Partners on March 5, 2021, the English-speaking world now understands exactly what\’s happening within the German medical cannabis model.


At the time of the report, an estimated 128,000 patients were receiving medical cannabis in the country, although there seems to be only slightly more than 13,000 complete patient records. Market analysts predict that by 2024, there will be one million German medical cannabis patients, which means a rapid expansion of the program in only a few short years.


To date, the German model has relied almost exclusively on cannabis imported from overseas. Canada has been the primary source, but Germany has recently received shipments from Australia, Israel, Portugal, Spain, and Uruguay. In July 2021, Tilray reported its first local harvest, designated for German pharmacies.


At the end of 2020, Germany was making headlines because it had imported nearly 10,000 kilograms of medical cannabis flower in a single year. This represents a small fraction of the total imports. According to the Prohibition Partner\’s report, in total, there were 87 permits for all cannabis-related products, capable of importing 191,090 kg of product annually. 


This not only included medical cannabis flower but also pharmaceutical preparations like dronabinol and Sativex. 

By 2028, after the million or more patients come online, the market should reach an expected €7.7 billion ($8.9 billion). Thus, Germany is set to become \”the world\’s most valuable medical cannabis market,\” in the words of New Frontier Data.


As New German Government Forms, Will It Change the German Landscape?

On September 26, 2021, Germans went to the polls to elect a new government. The clear winners—or as BBC calls them, \”the Kingmakers\”—are the Social Democrats, a center-left party headed by Olaf Scholz. They are now in talks with the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) to form a coalition.


This possible coalition replaces the more conservative government headed by Angela Merkel and the more conservative Christian Democratic Union. Will a Social Democrat-led coalition introduce more progressive medical cannabis legislation than the previous governments did?


According to a pre-election analysis by Volt Face, the Social Democrats \”can generally be considered pro-cannabis policy reform. It is not, however, a resolute campaign promise, nor is it expected that the party will lead on and initiate the change.\”


The other parties potentially joining into the Social Democratic coalition government are measurably more pro-cannabis. This includes the Greens, who campaigned on legalizing the purchase and possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis and the legalization of small home grows of three plants. Based on their recent electoral campaign, the party seems eager to support a legal market.


The second party likely to join the Social Democrats is the FDP. Known as a pro-business party, they are also supportive of an open recreational market. Presumably, this pro-business mandate would improve the accessibility and options within the medical market as well. The FDP has indicated it would push Germany to be a global exporter of medical products.


While nothing is concrete without a confirmed coalition, it does seem like positive political change is in the air for medical and recreational cannabis access in Germany.


RYAH Devices Enters into Germany Within an Observational Study

Based on these projections, including the expectation that a pro-cannabis coalition government will be formed, the German market has attracted much more attention in 2021 than ever before.


In this context, RYAH Group, Inc. announced it had sent the first shipment of its Smart Dry Herb Inhalers to Four 20 Pharma for use in an upcoming observational study. 


As per Gregory Wagner, RYAH Group CEO, \”Germany represents one of the most important and influential plant-based medicine markets in Europe, and we are thrilled to be initiating a pilot program with Four 20 Pharma GmbH in the region.\”


Four 20 Pharma, a German manufacturer, wholesaler, and importer of medical cannabis, has been a long-time advocate for better access to medical cannabis. 


As a gold sponsor for the Working Group for Cannabis Medicine (ACM) and a platinum sponsor of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines (IACM), it\’s been actively supporting physicians, patients, and pharmacies across the country since forming in 2018. 


The stated goal of this pilot study is to collect and analyze patient feedback about their experience and consumption of medical cannabis. The study will collect information on a broad spectrum of patient demographics; however, there is a keen focus on the specific use for eldercare.


According to Wagner, \”Four 20 has a strong network of doctors and patient care facilities, making it an excellent partner to pilot RYAH\’s smart inhaler and proprietary data analytics as the industry moves towards perfecting prescribing practices and patient regimens.\”


The German Model Still on Track to Perfect Medical Cannabis Access

More than a million Germans may be accessing medical cannabis in only a few short years through prescribing physicians and pharmacies. Unlike in other markets, many of these patients will likely be receiving it under the public system and supplied directly by pharmacists — much like conventional pharmaceuticals. 


The German model truly rolls medical cannabis into a preexisting distribution network to ensure it remains well controlled, consistent, and safe for patients. At the same time, this approach captures tax revenue and critical patient information. As other countries roll out their own medical cannabis programs, Germany serves as a valuable example, and one worth replicating.

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