Roll up, roll up! Germany takes a bold step toward cannabis legalization. In a move that’s as bold as it is liberal, Germany has embarked on an exciting journey in the direction of the legalization of cannabis. The federal cabinet has approved a draft bill, setting the stage for what could be one of the most significant policy shifts in Europe. With Malta and Luxembourg already leading the charge, Germany may soon join them in turning over a new leaf. And such a move opens up a world of possibilities for the cannabis and CBD industry by granting it more flexibility.
The government’s traffic light coalition, under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, agreed upon this draft law at the beginning of July. While it might be too soon to light up in celebration – the now following hearings with states and associations could result in additional changes – there’s no denying that Germany stands on the brink of becoming a European pioneer in cannabis legalization. By adopting this non-commercial model for decriminalizing weed, it has set itself on track to become the third EU member regulating personal use – following hot on Malta’s and Luxembourg’s heels. With the growing hype around CBD-products, that somehow is just a move complementing an industry which has still enormous growth potential.
CONTROLLED THC PRODUCTS OVER BLACK MARKET TRADE
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and Federal Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Green Party) had earlier presented a key points paperback in April. Their vision? To control black market activities while preventing sales of unregulated products. According to Lauterbach, the two-pillar model aims high – it seeks not only public health protection but also education about cannabis use while curbing illicit trade and bolstering child and youth protection. For advocates who’ve long championed such reform, this marks an exciting chapter to a greener future in Germany.
But for now, a 163-page document unpacks how the first pillar will be implemented under what’s been dubbed “Cannabis Law – CanG” formally known as “Draft Law on Controlled Use of Cannabis and Amendment of Other Regulations”. It proposes ‘cannabis clubs’ where cultivation and distribution would be managed; purchasing up to 25 grams would become legalized with monthly limits set at 50 grams. For those under 21, it is a maximum of 30 grams with a THC content of not more than 10 percent.
YES TO CANNABIS CLUBS – NO TO CANNABIS SOCIAL CLUBS
The so-called clubs will be undergoing strict regulations and controls, a minimum once a year and more in any case of suspicious business behavior. To be allowed to run such an association and cultivate marijuana, permission is essential, purchased by the responsible institution that is announced by each of the German member states individually. And when it comes to the word “association”, there is no such thing as the sale of cannabis. Members are part of a club by paying a fee. And that’s all there is as the profitable sale of cannabis stays strictly prohibited.
What will not happen is Cannabis Social Clubs. Unlike coffee shops in Amsterdam or the Cannabis Clubs in Spain, where those non-profit organizations are not only the purchase point but also a place in which consumers are allowed to take their spliff within a safe environment, in Germany the consumption in them will be prohibited.
CANNABIS ALLOWANCE FOR ADULTS AND HOME CULTIVATION
The same refers to smoking “in the immediate presence of persons under the age of 18”. Also within a distance of up to 200 meters from the entrance area of schools, children’s and youth facilities, in publicly accessible sports facilities and children’s playgrounds. Lightening a joint when wandering pedestrian zones? Nope. Apart from when it is between 8 pm and 6 am.
But wait – there’s more. The law also hints at personal cultivation becoming permissible. Home growers then have permission to grow up to three cannabis plants within their own four walls. The plants must be in a space that is not accessible to children, adolescents, or third parties. Those who believe in sharing is creating the best taste, can do just so. But always with the awareness that there shall not be such a thing as a nuisance or disturbance to the neighborhood.
SECOND PILLAR OF LAW TO BE REVIEWED AFTER PARLIAMENT’S SUMMER RECESS
Remember also that there were plans to legalize marijuana by creating a commercial supply chain for adult-use cannabis? A plan that could have raked in billions in tax revenue and made Germany Europe’s first country legalizing the sale of pot? Well, those dreams were thwarted by international and European laws prohibiting recreational access to cannabis. But the draft bill linked to its second pillar of legalization is set for unveiling after review by none other than the European Commission in 2023’s second half. This bill revolves around regional pilot projects with commercial supply chains.
Moreover, once regional pilot projects take off post-European Commission review, other EU nations might consider controlled sales experiments allowing them an insight into full-scale legalization effects. However, ultimately it falls upon the EU’s shoulders whether or not they choose to revise laws regarding recreational marijuana sales within member countries.
But before any of that, it is to keep all eyes on not us, but on what the statements and feedbacks out of the hearings are bringing. Because even though legalization never felt so close in Germany, there also was a decision made by the Federal Constitutional Court Karlsruhe that is showing a red flag to green.
SUPREME COURT KEEPS HOLDING ON TO 30-YEAR-OLD REGULATIONS
The Supreme Court was consulted after three local courts in Germany had stopped the criminal proceedings against persons who had either carried, cultivated, or sold cannabis. The reason is that the responsible judges thought that the current legal situation is not anyhow reasonable anymore considering that cannabis has reached the center of our society a long time ago.
Numerous studies have shown that the effect of marijuana is far from what was known when the regulations fell into place in 1994 and can even support overall human well-being and health, it must be a logical consequence to adopt penalties. The local courts, one of them being the district court of Bernau, have claimed that also the addiction potential is below that of nicotine and alcohol. But for the constitutional judges, all that is not enough evidence to suspend penalties. Because in their opinion it is also about more than that one person, but to stand up against the crime around drugs.
So as for the Supreme Court, if there shall be changes it is up to no one else than the lawmakers to do so. Does that affect the legalization movement? Well, to all those that keep holding on to their arguments having been taken out of their ancestor’s cupboards, the judgment will surely be the reason for a little triumph. But as for all else, it simply is another reason for pushing for a law changing regulations that date back 30 years.
The main anti-cannabis voices are coming from the Christian Democratic Party, the CDU/CSU. Whilst the Greens even have stated that certain parts of the agreed household budget will only be made accessible once the cannabis law has been passed, as agreed in the coalition contract of 2021. In a best case scenario all falls into place as per Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP): “Bubatz legal 2023.”
Now it is up to all the stakeholders, associations, and advocates to keep their voices heard. We sure will also support anything possible to finally have that little dream coming true… Or at least a step towards it.
Time is just an illusion, but the time is now to LEGALIZE NOW.