Germany permits medicinal marijuana

August 20, 2007

, United Press International

A German woman with multiple sclerosis is the first person in her country to be allowed to legally buy pharmaceutical-grade cannabis to ease her symptoms.

Deutsche Welle said Tuesday the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices' decision to permit the 51-year-old woman to legally buy cannabis from a pharmacy was unprecedented.

Doctors, so far, are only allowed to prescribe a synthetic form of cannabis called Dronabinol, which is not covered by health insurance. Patients who acquire it without a doctor's prescription risk prosecution.

Under the institute's ruling, the woman, identified as Claudia H., will be allowed to buy a "standardized extract" from the cannabis plant at a pharmacy for a one-year period. A doctor has to monitor the medicinal marijuana therapy and the drug must be kept in a safe to prevent theft.

The Munich newspaper said several scientific studies show cannabis can ease pain and spasms often associated with multiple sclerosis, a debilitating nerve ailment. It's also known to prevent weight loss among cancer and AIDS patients.

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