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Will Other European Nation’s Adopt Germany’s Legalization Model?

CanG cannabis legalization Germany
PHOTO Bloomberg


Will Other European Nation’s Adopt Germany’s Legalization Model?

Germany’s landmark CanG bill has created a blueprint of what adult-use cannabis legalization components the EU will approve.

On April 1, 2024, Germany became the largest country to pass a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure with CanG. It was a truly historic day for Germany’s cannabis reform movement and was the culmination of decades of hard work by dedicated German cannabis advocates. Advocates throughout Europe are hopeful that other European nations will adopt parts or all of Germany’s cannabis legalization model.

In addition to the work of citizen activists, Germany’s historic legalization victory came as a result of a modern domestic political process that began in the summer of 2021. Germany’s current governing coalition was first elected in 2021 and in the weeks leading up to the federal election, a first-of-its-kind cannabis discussion took place at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin.

For the first time, members from every major political party in Germany participated in a federal cannabis policy reform discussion, with many policy points of the panel’s discussion eventually becoming law. Additionally, one of the panelists, Burkhard Bleinert, would later go on to become Germany’s Commissioner on Narcotic Drugs at the Federal Ministry of Health. The historic panel provided a preview of what was to come.

Once the current governing coalition, often referred to as the ‘Traffic Light Coalition,’ was elected in Germany, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach began discussions with the European Union to determine what the EU would allow. Unlike Uruguay and Canada, which are not bound by European Union agreements, Germany’s legalization model does not involve national retail outlets due to European Union agreements. National adult-use sales, similar to what is in place in Canada, will have to wait for now.

Germany’s groundbreaking CanG bill is a two-phased plan, with the first components of the ‘first pillar’ going into effect on April 1. The legal age for cannabis is set at 18 and adults are permitted to cultivate, possess and consume cannabis for adult-use purposes. Public use will remain prohibited; however, the launch of noncommercial cannabis clubs is expected on July 1, 2024.

The CanG Law

Adults in Germany can now cultivate up to three plants in a private residence and legally purchase seeds and/or clones from outlets not only in Germany but throughout many parts of Europe. Adults can also possess up to 25 grams while away from their residence and up to 50 grams at their homes. Consumers caught with slightly above the legal limit will face an administrative action versus a criminal offense in Germany going forward.

Refraining from enforcing cannabis prohibition against consumers will save Berlin a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars, in addition to preventing lives from being ruined by prohibition. According to a 2021 report from Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf, Germany will save an estimated 1.05 billion euros annually by no longer enforcing cannabis prohibition, in addition to judicial savings of 313 million euros per year.

A major component of Germany’s new CanG cannabis legalization law is the removal of cannabis from the nation’s Narcotics List. The de-listing of cannabis in Germany will improve safe access for medical cannabis patients by removing some hurdles in the medical cannabis supply chain and streamlining processes for pharmacies. Cannabis research will be easier to pursue and academic institutions should eventually receive national and/or EU-provided funds for specific research projects.

Historically, the cultivation of medical cannabis in Germany was regulated by a licensing procedure, with the nation’s Federal Office for Drugs and Medical Devices making the final determination on the quantity and price of domestically produced medical cannabis. Imports were not subject to the same process, which provided a huge advantage to companies based outside of Germany. Germany’s new adult-use cannabis law should provide a tremendous boost to the domestic medical industry.

With the CanG bill becoming law, Germany has created a blueprint of what adult-use cannabis legalization components the European Union will approve. Leaders in the Czech Republic have already expressed a desire to follow in Germany’s footsteps. Home to the largest economy on the continent and sharing more borders with other countries than any other European nation, Germany is sure to lead a growing coalition of countries seeking to modernize their cannabis policies and regulations.

The International Cannabis Business Conference continues to be in the middle of it all, with the event series’ flagship conference set to take place in Berlin on April 16-17 at the iconic Estrel Berlin Hotel. The B2B conference is the first major conference taking place after Germany has legalized. Thousands of people from over 80 countries will be in attendance, as well as a number of domestic policymakers, regulators and advocates. A limited number of tickets are still available. Be a part of history and register today before the event sells out.

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