What do you think of medical marijuana

Cannabis as medicine: intoxicant remains a controversial drug

For some it is the last hope for pain relief, for others it is a drug with dubious effects: since a change in the law in 2017, doctors have been able to prescribe cannabis in Germany. At least when the disease is serious and conventional therapies have been proven not to help.

How well cannabis works in which dosage has not yet been adequately researched. Studies exist that look at the benefits for individual diseases; however, there is no major meta-analysis. Nevertheless, the demand is increasing. In order to meet the growing demand, private companies have recently been allowed to grow the plant in Germany under state supervision.

This article is featured in Spectrum - The Week, 04/2021

A patient, a doctor, a representative of the authorities and the spokeswoman for a cultivation company report on how the drug as medicine is changing everyday life.

The patient - with cannabis against migraines

"Smoking is unhealthy," says Daniela Joachim, which is why she never lights a joint. She either stirs the cannabis flowers, which she receives on prescription, with yogurt or heats them in a vaporizer. "It's a bit like an e-cigarette," says the 48-year-old, "with the difference that the device is a tested, medical product."

Daniela Joachim is a board member of the Association of German Cannabis Patients. The association sees itself as a self-help group for people whose illnesses can be alleviated with cannabis (see info box "What should cannabis as medicine help against?"). Like Joachim. She had developed a severe migraine after irradiating a tumor in her sinus. "The only thing that helped me for a long time was ibuprofen," says Joachim. At some point she got a headache from it herself.

Eventually she tried cannabis, initially using a private prescription at her own expense. "For me it significantly lowers the frequency of migraines," she says. Joachim asserts that her neurologist did not want to apply for the costs to be covered by the health insurance company. "He wasn't familiar with it, that was too complicated for him." It was only in a pain clinic in Hanover that she found a doctor who complied with her request.