Medical marijuana is set to be legalised in Germany after the cabinet approved a draft bill to allow patients to get cannabis on prescription.
The Health Ministry said the legislation will allow doctors to prescribe cannabis in the form of dried flowers or extracts if there are no alternative treatments for patients to collect from pharmacies.
Health minister Hermann Groehe stressed it does not imply a general legalisation of cannabis in Germany. Only the cultivation of medical cannabis will be legal, under the supervision of the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices. Until a cannabis-growing programme is started, supplies will be imported.
Patients currently have to seek special authorisation to use the drug.
The legislation still needs to be approved by parliament.
Groehe told German daily Die Welt: "Without wishing to pre-judge the work of the Bundestag (lower house of parliament), it is likely that the law will come into force in the spring of 2017."
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, shared the bill's details on Twitter. The text, written in German, includes a reminder that using or growing marijuana for recreational purposes remains illegal.
Medical marijuana has been used all over the world to treat all sorts of illnesses and symptoms including the muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis and the nausea caused by chemotherapy.
It has also been used to treat poor appetite and weight loss.
As many countries re-evaluate their stance on the drug, which is illegal in the UK, many have chosen to change their laws. Canada recently announced it will legalise marijuana by spring next year.