Tuesday May 21, 2019

Germany legalizes the use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes for people who are chronically ill

The draft law says patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis "in very limited exceptional cases" and patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis

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FILE - A variety of medicinal marijuana buds in jars are pictured at Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group dispensary in West Hollywood, California. VOA

Germany’s lower house of parliament on Thursday passed a law that legalizes the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for people who are chronically ill.

Those suffering from serious illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and chronic pain or a lack of appetite or nausea could be offered marijuana under the law.

The draft law says patients will only have the right to be treated with cannabis “in very limited exceptional cases” and patients will not be allowed to grow their own cannabis.

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“Those who are severely ill need to get the best possible treatment and that includes health insurance funds paying for cannabis as a medicine for those who are chronically ill if they can’t be effectively treated any other way,” said Health Minister Hermann Groehe.

A Health Ministry spokeswoman said cannabis would only be used as a last resort when nothing else seemed to work. She said a scientific study would simultaneously be carried out to assess the effects of cannabis use in such cases.

Until now patients had only been able to get access to cannabis for medicinal purposes with special authorization which had made it complicated, but now they will be able to get a prescription from their doctors and a refund for it from their health insurance fund, she said.

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She said the law was likely to take effect in March after a procedural reading by the upper house of parliament.

State-supervised cannabis plantations will be set up in Germany in future and until then cannabis will be imported. Other countries that allow cannabis to be used for medical purposes include Italy and the Czech Republic. (VOA)

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Ukraine’s New Leader Gets Sworn In, Immediately Dissolves Parliament

The 41-year-old Zelenskiy had upended the traditions of Ukrainian politics

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Ukraine's New Leader, Parliament
Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy greets supporters before inauguration ceremony in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 20, 2019. VOA

Ukrainian TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in as the country’s new president on Monday, promised to stop the war in the country’s east against Russian-backed separatists and immediately disbanded parliament, which he has branded as a group only interested in self-enrichment.

Even before he disbanded the Supreme Rada, which had been one of his campaign promises, the 41-year-old Zelenskiy had upended the traditions of Ukrainian politics.

He ditched the idea of a traditional motorcade to his inauguration, walking to the parliament through a park packed with people. Flanked by four bodyguards, he was giving high-fives to some spectators and even stopped to take a selfie with one of them.

Before he made the announcement, Zelenskiy asked the Supreme Rada to adopt a bill against illegal enrichment and support his motions to fire the country’s defense minister, the head of the Ukrainian Security Service and the Prosecutor General. All of them are allies of former President Petro Poroshenko, who lost the presidential election in a landslide to the comedian with no previous political experience.

Ukraine's New Leader, Parliament
Ukrainian TV star Volodymyr Zelenskiy was sworn in as the country’s new president on Monday. Flickr

In a feisty speech after his inauguration, Zelenskiy told the Rada that his main goal for the presidency is to bring peace to eastern Ukraine, where government troops have been fighting Russia-backed separatists for five years.

“I’m ready to do everything so that our heroes don’t die there,” he said. “I’m ready to lose my popularity and, if necessary, I’m ready to lose my post so that we have peace.”

Zelenskiy garnered 73% of the vote at the presidential election last month in a victory that reflected Ukrainians’ exhaustion with politics-as-usual. For years, he has played the Ukrainian president in a popular television show.

The new president wrapped up his speech at parliament by referring to his career as a comedian.

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“Throughout all of my life, I tried to do everything to make Ukrainians laugh,” he said with a smile. “In the next five years I will do everything so that Ukrainians don’t cry.” (VOA)