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Germany allows MS patient to grow cannabis in unprecedented case

Germany's Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) confirmed on Sunday that the patient from Mannheim, southwestern Germany, will be allowed to grow a maximum of 130 cannabis plants a year in his bathroom. The cannabis is strictly for personal use, a spokesperson said.

BfArM had previously rejected requests to home-grow cannabis. There are currently more than 900 patients in Germany who are permitted to use the drug for medicinal purposes. However, the cannabis must be purchased from the pharmacy and financial costs covered by the patient. One gram currently costs around 15 euros ($16.85).

Prior to receiving his permit, the Mannheimer had filed multiple lawsuits, arguing that he could not afford the monthly costs of around 1,500 euros. In spring, Germany's Federal Administrative Court ruled that BfArM must "allow the claimant to grow cannabis, harvest the drug, and use it for the medical purpose of his treatment."

Interview: Cannabis as a medication

The man suffers from conditions including spastic paralysis, speech disorders and depressive disorders.

New priority for health considerations

"This is a slap in the face for policymakers who have so far failed to correctly implement the first ruling of the Federal Administrative Court in 2005," a spokesman for the Association for Cannabis as Medicine said. The decision gives health policy considerations precedence over a categorical rejection of self-sufficiency, he said.

Berlin presented a bill earlier this summer, allowing the prescription and reimbursement for medicinal cannabis in certain cases.

Should health insurers cover the costs in the future, the permit for the Mannheim MS patient, which was due to last until summer 2017, will expire with immediate effect.

Until then, the man can cultivate up to 20 cannabis plants in his bathroom at the same time. According to the permit, unnecessary plants or harvested plant parts must be destroyed. The medicinal cannabis must also be kept in a "secure storage unit."

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