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    German Public Health Insurers Increasingly Pay for Cannabis Treatment

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    Nearly 10,000 applications for medical marijuana therapy have been received by the country's two largest health insurance companies, with over half of them being approved. German patients can receive cannabis on prescription since March 2017.

    The costs of cannabis therapies in Germany are being increasingly covered by the country's public health insurance companies, which means patients who receive the non-conventional treatment don't have to pay for it out of their own pockets, according to German Die Zeit newspaper.

    For instance, one of the largest public health insurance firms in Germany, the AOK, received 6,600 applications for the reimbursement of medical cannabis treatments this year, the company's spokesperson told the newspaper.

    About 65 percent of these applications have been approved, and the figures may increase as some requests were rejected only for formal reasons and could be revised if re-submitted by a doctor and a patient.

    READ MORE: Poland Legalizes Marijuana Use for Medical Purposes

    According to the spokesperson, the most common reason for the rejection is the lack of medical justification. That means that seriously ill patients must try all standard therapies and apply for cannabis treatment only if those didn't help.

    As reported by the Berliner Zeitung, Germany's second-largest public health insurer, Barmer, has also approved most of the applications for cannabis therapies this year.

    Since the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been legalized by the government earlier this year, the company received about 2,900 applications for reimbursement, with about 1,700 of them being approved.

    READ MORE: Green Divide: Marijuana Leaves Danish Doctors Skeptical, Companies Buoyant

    The reason for rejections was basically the same as in the case of the AOK, namely the lack of evidence that other treatment alternatives had proved unsuccessful.

    "Medical cannabis is an indispensable part of the treatment of seriously ill patients nowadays, but it is not a panacea," Barmer CEO Christoph Straub said, cited by the newspaper.

    Nevertheless, the trend remains positive by contrast to the summer period when up to two-thirds of the applications were rejected, the newspaper wrote.

    In March 2017, German authorities adopted a law according to which seriously ill patients are allowed to use medical marijuana for treatment.

    At the same time, planting or using marijuana for recreational purposes continues to be illegal all across the country.

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    medical use, cannabis, health insurance, Germany
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