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What Does Germany’s Legalization Vote Mean for the Rest of Europe?

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What Does Germany’s Legalization Vote Mean for the Rest of Europe?

The German legalization model now serves as the blueprint for cannabis in Europe.

On Friday, April 23, 2024, lawmakers in Germany’s Federal Parliament, the Bundestag, approved a long-awaited adult-use cannabis legalization measure. The expected implementation date for the first provisions of the legalization measure is set for April 1, 2024.

The successful vote in Germany came after roughly two and a half years of Health Minister Karl Lauterbach leading conversations and negotiations with heads of the European Union (EU). The purpose of the conversations was to determine what the EU would allow for Germany’s legalization model.

EU agreements prohibit national adult-use cannabis sales, similar to what’s currently in place in Uruguay and Canada, the first two countries to legalize the plant for adult use. Members of Germany’s governing coalition had initially called for national sales before settling on the provisions of the recently approved measure. Malta and Luxembourg have also passed national adult-use cannabis legalization measures; however, their legalization models do not involve national retail sales.

What will be permitted in Germany is the legalization of personal cultivation, possession and consumption by adults. Additionally, noncommercial cannabis clubs will be allowed to operate in Germany, with July 1 being the expected launch date. Regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs will also be permitted in Germany as part of the legalization model. Cannabis will also be removed from the German Narcotics List.

The German legalization model now serves as the blueprint for cannabis in Europe and provides a set of public policies that can withstand scrutiny from the EU. The model creates tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators, particularly in the home cultivation and personal consumption accessory sectors of the emerging cannabis industry.

Germany is the largest global cannabis prohibition domino to fall thus far. Consider the fact that the country’s population is over 83 million people versus the combined populations of Uruguay, Canada, Malta and Luxembourg is only about 43 million people. With Japan currently in a recession, Germany has moved up to the world’s third-largest economy. Legalization in Germany is very significant by every measure, not only at home but also at the continental level.

Germany Cannabis Legalization
It’s anticipated that many countries will likely adopt Germany’s legalization model to ensure approval from the EU.

The Ripple Effect of Legalization

The most immediate ripple effect of German legalization will be felt in the region of Europe where the nation is located. The country shares more borders with other countries than any other nation in Europe. Apart from Luxembourg’s limited legalization model, no other country in Germany’s region has modernized their cannabis policies to permit adult use. Leaders in the Czech Republic have previously indicated that they will closely follow Germany in terms of cannabis policy modernization and it’s likely that other central European nations will do the same once reform proves to be successful in Germany.

Historic European cannabis hotspots like Spain will also be affected. Barcelona is currently home to hundreds of cannabis clubs and the world’s largest cannabis super-conference. Anti-cannabis lawmakers in Spain have benefitted from the cannabis policy status quo in their country; cannabis is tolerated in parts of Spain yet still illegal nationwide. Foot-dragging and reform sabotage efforts by such lawmakers will become less tenable as German legalization succeeds. That is true in Spain as well as in various other European nations.

Every successful cannabis reform victory in Europe builds on the next. Nations with modernized cannabis policies continue to collaborate and form coalitions for the purpose of reforming European Union policies. At some point in the not-so-distant future, the coalition of legal nations in Europe, led by Germany, will reach a critical mass and gain approval to unlock the European adult-use market. In the meantime, many countries will likely adopt Germany’s legalization model to ensure approval from the EU.

It will be interesting to see how many cannabis clubs are operating in Germany in 2-3 years. Malta already has legal cannabis clubs, however, there are very few in operation. What is expected in Germany will be much larger in size and scope comparatively.

Pilot Projects

The same is true for regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot projects in Germany. Such programs are already in operation in Switzerland, but they involve participant numbers that are much lower than what is expected in Germany in the coming years.

Regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot projects involve permitting participants to sign up to make legal cannabis purchases from licensed outlets. The theory behind pilot projects is that by permitting localized sales, lawmakers and regulators will be better suited when crafting national rules and policies. If every cannabis consumer in Germany was permitted to make legal purchases through a cannabis club and/or pilot program, national cannabis sales would effectively be in place in Germany.

A lot is going on in Germany right now and it’s a truly historic and exciting time. This is expected to be the first legal April in Germany since the dawn of prohibition and the International Cannabis Business Conference will be taking place in the heart of all of it in Berlin on April 16th-17th. Go to to find out more about Europe’s largest and longest-running cannabis B2B event series.

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