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German Cannabis Legalization Expected in April

German Cannabis Legalization Reichstag Building Berlin
PHOTO Diego Delso


German Cannabis Legalization Expected in April

After years of debate, Minister Lauterbach’s two-phase cannabis legalization measure is expected to go into effect April 1, hopefully inspiring other countries to follow suit and develop sensible, modern cannabis legalization policies.

The German cannabis legalization saga appears to finally be concluding, with members of the governing coalition in the Bundestag reportedly reaching a final agreement. If the process stays on track, cannabis cultivation, possession and consumption will be legalized in Germany starting April 1.

Germany’s current legalization effort started back in September 2021 when today’s governing coalition was initially elected. Members of the coalition, often referred to as the Traffic Light Coalition, quickly announced their intent to end cannabis prohibition in Germany where cannabis is already legal for medical purposes.

After the 2021 federal election in Germany ended, the nation’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach spent over a year participating in discussions with the European Union (EU) to determine what the continental body would allow. Members of the EU are bound by the organization’s policy, which currently prohibits nationwide adult-use cannabis sales. Minister Lauterbach pointed this out in an October 2022 press conference. 

The October 2022 press conference served as the first opportunity for the general public to learn about where things stood in the German cannabis legalization process, and what Germany’s legalization model would include. Minister Lauterbach made it clear during the press conference that discussions would continue with the EU, and that he would introduce a measure for domestic lawmakers to consider.

The Phases of German Cannabis Legalization

It wasn’t until April 2023 when Minister Lauterbach finally introduced his cannabis legalization measure, which involves two phases. The first phase includes legalizing personal cultivation, possession and consumption by adults, as well as permitting member-based noncommercial cannabis clubs.

The second phase would come later and would permit the launch of regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot projects, which are already in place in Switzerland on a small level. What is coming to Germany will be much larger in size and scope. Unfortunately, until the European Union’s cannabis policies are reformed, nationwide adult-use sales, like what is in place in Canada, will remain prohibited.

Throughout the remainder of 2023, Minister Lauterbach’s measure worked its way through Germany’s political process, clearing the major hurdles of being approved by the Federal Cabinet and the Bundesrat. Unfortunately, the measure stalled once it hit the Bundestag, where members disagreed about various components of the measure. Votes were reported to be taking place just for them to never materialize. Going into 2024, various Bundestag members and Minister Lauterbach publicly expressed that they were staying the course, and that legalization should be expected to come into law on April 1, 2024.

According to domestic reporting, April 1, 2024, is still the date for the first enactment of the CanG law, although there are still more political hurdles to overcome. However, only part of the first phase will be implemented on that date. The launch of member-based noncommercial cannabis clubs is expected a few months later on July 1, 2024. The clubs will be subjected to various regulations that were already identified. Noncommercial clubs are expected to be common throughout most of Germany in the coming years.

Home cultivation will initially serve as the main way for consumers to legally source their cannabis in Germany post-legalization. Adults will be able to cultivate up to three plants in private for personal use according to the measure. Seeds will be legal to purchase, and it will be up to consumers to source cannabis varieties for their home gardens.

In addition to being able to cultivate cannabis in a private setting, adults in Germany will be able to possess a personal amount of cannabis. The possession limit will be set at 50 grams per adult, and people caught with slightly more than the expressed limit will be penalized via an “administrative violation” versus being charged with a crime and serving jail time.

Benefits of De-Listing Cannabis

A major provision of the new law involves cannabis being removed from Germany’s Narcotics List, which is extremely significant for multiple reasons. First, Germany’s medical cannabis program will greatly benefit from the nation’s adult-use legalization law via the de-listing of cannabis. Changing cannabis’ listing will also remove various hurdles and barriers related to Germany’s medical cannabis supply chain. It should lead to the rise of online prescriptions, which would streamline processes for pharmacies and allow them to mail medical cannabis directly to patients.

Cannabis research should be easier to conduct in Germany because of cannabis no longer being on the nation’s Narcotics List. German academic institutions may prove to be one of the largest financial beneficiaries of legalization via new national and/or European Union-provided funds for specific cannabis research projects.

A Powerful Step Forward

Germany won’t be the first nation to pass a national adult-use legalization measure. However, it’s going to be the largest prohibition domino to fall thus far, and it will open the floodgates to similar reforms in Europe and beyond. 

Germany’s influence within the international and continental communities is significant, and when it proves that sensible cannabis policy modernization works, other nations are expected to follow suit, particularly in the region where Germany is located. Germany shares more borders with other countries in Europe than any other nation, and the Czech Republic has already indicated that it will be pursuing similar reforms once Germany legalizes.

Germany is the most exciting place on earth for cannabis right now. This will be the first April in Germany with cannabis being legal since the start of prohibition, and that’s exciting by every measure. It also makes the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin on April 16-17 a must-attend. Join me and be a part of international cannabis history.

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