Why does a cannabis pharmacy need security

Cannabis as medicine?

What is cannabis and how does it work?

Cannabis is the Latin term for hemp. People have been using this plant for thousands of years: the fibers are used to make ropes, and the seeds are used to make oil. The intoxicants hashish and marijuana can be extracted from the dried flowers and leaves. For some time now, the medicinal effects of cannabis have also been researched more intensively.

The medicinal effects of hemp are mainly due to the ingredients Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) back. THC has an intoxicating and relaxing effect, it can reduce nausea. CBD has an anti-anxiety effect and can inhibit inflammation.

What are the rules for prescribing cannabis?

Since 2017, the statutory health insurance companies have been assuming the costs of cannabis drugs in certain cases. There are strict requirements for this:

  • There is a serious illness.

  • Recognized medical treatment is not available or, according to a doctor's assessment, is not possible.

  • There is a not entirely distant prospect that the course of the disease or severe symptoms will noticeably improve.

Your doctor will assess whether these requirements are met. Before the first prescription, you must obtain approval from your health insurance company. Then you will receive a so-called narcotic prescription in the doctor's office.

When can cannabis be considered?

Cannabis has been examined for the following diseases or ailments, among others:

  • permanent (chronic) pain

  • Muscle spasms multiple sclerosis or paralysis of the legs

  • Nausea and vomiting, for example as a result of chemotherapy

  • unwanted weight loss, for example as a result of AIDS

Whether cannabis is an option for you for these complaints depends on which other treatments would be possible and whether the risk of side effects appears acceptable.

Most of the time, cannabis is not given to you in addition to the medication you are already taking. It has only been studied as an add-on drug.

Is Cannabis Effective?

So far, there are not enough good studies that it is not possible to judge with certainty how effective cannabis is. For persistent pain, muscle cramps, nausea, or weight loss, studies suggest that drugs containing THC can relieve symptoms. However, the observed effect was mostly rather minor. Cannabis does not help against sudden ailments. It takes a while for it to work. Cannabis has not been able to help with the following diseases: inflammatory bowel diseases, Parkinson's disease, movement disorders, tremors, Chorea huntington (a rare hereditary disease) or bladder weakness as a result of multiple sclerosis. There are no good studies on other diseases. Cannabidiol is approved for a rare form of epilepsy, but is currently advertised as an aid for many ailments. There is currently insufficient evidence that it works against this.

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects of cannabis include tiredness and poor concentration. The following symptoms can also occur: mood swings, dizziness, dry mouth, dry eyes, muscle weakness, increased appetite, racing heart, sudden drop in blood pressure and heart problems. No life-threatening complications have been reported after the medical use of cannabis. Cannabis increases the risk of getting mentally ill and causing delusions (psychosis) to develop. Around one in three people discontinues long-term treatment with cannabis because of side effects.

Those who use cannabis for a long time become insensitive to many of its effects. One speaks of tolerance. Anyone who suddenly stops cannabis can develop withdrawal symptoms.

Do not use cannabis if you are pregnant or already have one psychosis or have had other serious mental illnesses. Caution is advised in the case of severe cardiovascular diseases.

What types of cannabis are there?

The doctor can prescribe different types of cannabis products:

  • The active ingredients Nabilone and Nabiximols are available as ready-to-use drugs in the pharmacy, as capsules or as an oral spray.

  • The active substance Dronabinol is available in Germany as a so-called prescription drug. The remedy is prepared for you personally in the pharmacy, usually as oily drops that you take.

  • Furthermore there is Medicinal hemp in the form of dried flowers or plant extract. Both must be heated for the ingredients to work. An evaporator is suitable for this.

Is cannabis addictive medicine?

The leaflets accompanying the cannabis medication list addiction as a possible side effect. The available data do not allow any conclusions to be drawn as to whether cannabis drugs are addictive in the amounts that have been investigated in studies. No such cases are known to date. Another reason for this is that most of the studies didn't last long enough.

What professionals recommend

  • If cannabis is an option for you for medical reasons, you should receive finished or prescription drugs. Unlike flowers and extracts, these do not vary in their composition and effectiveness.

  • Because of the harmful effects, experts advise against smoking flowers as a joint or cannabis drops in Liquids to mix.

  • You should not actively participate in road traffic at the beginning of treatment or when the dose is adjusted.

March 2020, published by the German Medical Association and the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians