On October 15, 2021, the first therapy center specializing in medical cannabis will open in Saarbrücken’s medical center at Bahnhofstraße number 56. The practice is no ordinary medical practice: The treating physicians are specialized in the therapy with cannabinoids. Since March 2017 (“Cannabis as Medicine Act”), doctors in Germany are allowed to prescribe medical cannabis.
On October 15, 2021, the first medical therapy center for medical cannabis in Saarland will open in Saarbrücken. The appointment practice is a contact point for cannabis patients from the region. Possible indications for cannabis therapy include chronic pain, sleep and anxiety disorders as well as ADHD or multiple sclerosis.
Stigmatization of patients and the legalization debate
Currently, the legalization of cannabis is being publicly discussed and the recreational use of commercially available hemp products is booming. For example, State Secretary of Health and State Drug Commissioner Stephan Kolling recently warned against misleading advertising for hemp products.
Dr. Julian Wichmann, a specialist in general medicine, explains: “The consumption of over-the-counter cannabis products with dubious effects for medical purposes should be viewed critically.” At the same time, however, the doctor warns against ignoring the potential of cannabis in medicine as numerous studies prove the medical effectiveness of cannabis. Wichmann criticizes that on the one hand a legalization debate is being conducted, while on the other hand cannabis is unjustly stigmatized in medicine. Patients are often defamed as ‘stoners’ and it is difficult to find doctors who offer cannabis therapy.
Dr. Wichmann and his company Algea Care specialize in cannabis therapies and have already established 13 cannabis therapy centers in Germany. His goal is to improve the supply situation for patients and to establish medical cannabis in conventional medicine. Wichmann explains: “Even today, pain patients are often prescribed opioids, although medical cannabis is usually an alternative with fewer side effects in the case of long-term illnesses. This is completely paradoxical.”
Prescription by narcotic prescription forms
However, you can’t just drop in and get a prescription for medical cannabis in the form of flowers and extracts or CBD medicines. Patients must first book an appointment via www.algeacare.com and describe the history of their illness. If the doctors come to the conclusion that cannabis therapy could in principle help, an appointment is made in the doctor’s office. There, the attending physician will take a detailed anamnesis on site. If the medical requirements are met, a narcotics presciption form is issued, which can be redeemed in pharmacies. Since the bureaucratic hurdles for the coverage of treatment costs by health insurance companies are high and applications are usually rejected, Algea Care doctors currently prescribe exclusively by private prescription, which is why patients often have to bear the treatment costs themselves.
Cannabis Regulation Facts
Only about two percent of doctors in Germany prescribe medical cannabis. The German Society for Pain Medicine (DGS) estimates that about 50 percent of pain patients who could benefit from treatment with cannabis do not receive it. Surveys by the statutory health insurance funds have so far recorded just over 880,000 prescriptions since cannabinoids were approved for prescription. By comparison, there were 16.5 million prescriptions for opioids in 2018 alone. [1,2]
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About Algea Care
Algea Care is the nation’s first and leading platform for telemedicine-supported and evidence-based medical treatment with medical cannabis. As a result of the approval of the medical use of cannabis in 2017, the company, founded in Frankfurt in 2020, has pioneered medical treatment using specific hemp components, e.g., cannabinoid oil (CBD). Algea Care is aimed at patients for whom conventional therapy was unsuccessful and who are now looking to natural medical products, such as cannabis, to treat their chronic illnesses and ailments (e.g., chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease, depression, ADHD, sleep problems). Achieving long-term improvements in patient quality of life is the focus of the efforts of the more then 220-strong Algea Care team.
Via the website www.algeacare.com, patients can quickly and easily request treatment and – after a careful medical examination of the patient’s documents – book an appointment at one of the currently 23 therapy centers in Germany. Physicians specially trained in the use of cannabis therapy and other natural medicinal products provide consultation and treatment. After the initial appointment at one our therapy centres, all follow-up appointments, if medically justifiable, can take place as a video consultation. Using state-of-art telemedical technology, Algea Care provides patients with a comprehensive range of services: our expert team is on hand to help patients schedule appointments and compile medical histories, to offer therapy support or to answer questions on medication and other related topics.