Thousands of addicts are expected to benefit from the legislation reclassifying diamorphine as a legally prescribed controlled drug.
Under the terms of the law, addicts aged 23 or older will be able to obtain diamorphine on prescription at special centres and take it under the supervision of trained personnel.
The programme will apply only to people addicted to opiates for more than 5 years who have unsuccessfully taken parts in rehab programmes at least twice.
The legislation follows a pilot project conducted on more than 1,000 addicts in seven German cities between 2002-2006.
The study showed the health of addicts who took diamorphine improved more frequently than it did for those treated with the heroin substitute methadone.
A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative, who opposed the legislation, warned that up to 80,000 addicts could take advantage of the new scheme, while drug experts put the figure at 2,000 to 3,000. (dpa)