Cannabis (or marijuana) has a firm place in the health sector, and has been available on prescription in Germany since March 1, 2017. Because the use of medical cannabis oil is still regarded as controversial among Medicine experts, medical cannabis research is thriving, and hardly a month goes by without a new article or new scientific findings being published on the pros and cons of medical cannabis.
Studies on the efficacy and medical benefits of cannabis now number in the hundreds, and interest in this subject is not confined to Germany: gradually, countries around the world are legalizing the medical use of cannabis. It is now possible to be prescribed medical cannabis for diabetes, medical cannabis for insomnia, medical cannabis for parkinson’s disease and medical cannabis for seizures – the list of cannabis medication goes on.
Because of the international interest in this topic, studies, reports and analyses on medical cannabis often have to be translated into various languages.
In order to produce high quality translations, the translators not only neeed to have the appropriate language skills and qualifications, but also medical expertise and a knowledge of related fields such as biochemistry.
EHLION can help you with Specialist translations on medical issues, such as the use of cannabis in medicine.
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- The current status of cannabis in Germany
- The history of cannabis as a medicine
- Current areas of application for medical cannabis
- Countries in which the use of medical cannabis is legal
- Medical translations from EHLION
The current status of cannabis in Germany
Doctors in Germany no longer need a special permit to prescribe medical marijuana. The demand for medical cannabis has risen steeply since the new rules took effect in the spring of 2017. Doctors are increasingly reaching for the prescription pad to offer patients relief from a variety of symptoms with the aid of cannabis.
Whereas prior to the new regulations only around 1000 patients held a special permit for the consumption of medical cannabis, by 2018 this number had risen to between 50,000 and 60,000 patients, with treatment costs being covered by both private and statutory health insurance providers. These figures were taken from a press release by the DHV (Deutscher Hanfverband – German Hemp Association) published in March 2019.
With the rising number of prescriptions for medical cannabis, the number of units dispensed by pharmacies is also on the increase.
What is medical cannabis? The history of cannabis as a medicine
The use of cannabis in medicine has a long history. Cannabis, which is also known as hemp, belongs to the Cannabaceae genus and is considered to be one of the world’s oldest medicinal plants.
According to the latest research, cannabis was first used in Chinese medicine about 5000 years ago, and was later used in Indian medicine to treat symptoms including constipation, fever, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
In Ayurvedic medicine cannabis was used to treat headaches, anxiety and cramps, and it was even used as an anesthetic and painkiller for minor surgical procedures.
Cannabis reached Europe via Persia and Egypt, and was first used on the European continent by the Greeks and Romans. The plant’s psychoactive properties were not considered at all at the time of Hippocrates – only later were the resulting effects, both the toxicity and the positive effects of pain relief, recognized and mentioned.
In Mediaeval Central Europe, monastic medical scholars were regarded as the highest authority for medical research and development The poet and Benedictine nun Hildegard von Bingen wrote about the positive effect of cannabis on pain, ulcers and wounds, and it was also used to treat nausea, bronchitis and rheumatism, as well as being recommended for coughing, colic, gout, jaundice and burns. According to John Parkinson, an English pharmacist and botanist, all of these complaints could be alleviated by cannabis.
The use of cannabis experienced a boom in Europe and the USA in the 19th century,at which time pharmacies were selling it over the counter in huge quantities. Cannabis products were in fact the top-selling drugs, with up to 100 different preparations available in the form of tinctures and extracts.
Cannabis preparations were used as a substitute for opium and to alleviate conditions such as rheumatism, cramps, epilepsy or sleep disorders. It was even given to children and babies despite its well-known intoxicating effects.
Current areas of application for medical cannabis
Today in Germany, medical marijuana is used to treat various conditions. Whether or not it is prescribed in any given case is at the discretion of the attending physician. The doctor has complete freedom in this respect, as there is no specific list of diseases for which the prescription of cannabis is not permitted. Nevertheless, caution must be exercised with many pre-existing conditions, such as heart disease and mental illness.
Cannabis is used particularly often to treat the following clinical conditions:
- Chronic pain
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Depressive disorders
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Cannabis can also provide relief for rheumatism, sleep disorders and many other diseases. Opinions differ as to its efficacy as a treatment for many diseases, such as epilepsy.
However, it is inadvisable to regard cannabis as a general panacea: due to the scanty research on the subject, many patients will only discover if it has any tangible effect on their symptoms through self-experimentation – ideally under the supervision of a doctor.
The possible applications and therapeutic potential of medical cannabis have not yet been fully explored, and the current research base does not provide a full picture of its potential therapeutic uses. It can, therefore, be assumed that further scientific knowledge will be gained over the coming decades, possibly resulting in amore targeted and potentially more effective use of cannabis as a medical drug.
Learn more about translations on cannabis in medicine.
Countries in which the use of medical cannabis is legal
Regulations pertaining to the use of cannabis or to its full legalization differ greatly around the world, ranging from complete legalization to laws sanctioning its sale when dispensed as a controlled medicine; the latter is the case in parts of Europe.
In some cases, the regulations can vary widely even within individual countries. In the USA, for example, there are no uniform federal regulations. Instead, the extent to which the possession, use and sale of cannabis is legally permitted varies from state to state.
Regulatory levels for cannabis:
- Complete ban: This means the possession, consumption and sale of cannabis is illegal. The use of cannabis as a medical drug is also prohibited
- Decriminalization: This means the possession of smaller quantities of cannabis is tolerated and offenders will not be prosecuted.
- Medical use: This means it is legal to supply cannabis for medical purposes through authorized retailers such as pharmacies or a medical cannabis dispensary. There are limits placed on the quantities that can be procured and dispensed.
- Legalization: This means the possession and use of cannabis are legal. Its cultivation and trade are subject to further regulations.
Overview of countries in which the sale of marijuana is legal:
- Uruguay: This was the first country to introduce complete legalization (in 2013).
- USA: Complete legalization in the states of Colorado and Washington. Other federal states (mainly western states such as California, Nevada and Oregon) followed with decriminalization, legalization for medical purposes and / or legalization for consumption.
- Germany: May be supplied and consumed for medical purposes, subject to prescription. Possession is prohibited, but in practice the possession of small quantities is tolerated. In the case of possession for personal consumption, the limit to the amount that is tolerated varies between the individual federal states.
- South Africa: The ban on the cultivation and possession of cannabis was declared unconstitutional in2017, which makes South Africa the only country on the African continent to have introduced complete legalization.
- Canada: Consumption and trade have been legal since 2018.
- Russia: Cultivation and consumption are tolerated in small quantities.
- Australia: Medical use is legal. Depending on the region, cultivation and consumption have been partially decriminalized.
Medical translations from EHLION
Many patients around the world benefit from the positive effects of medical marijuana, yet its use and efficacy will continue to be a subject of discussion among scientists, medical experts, politicians and journalists for many years to come.
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