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Cannabis Bill Passes In Germany, Legalization Begins April 1st

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Lawmakers in Germany’s Bundesrat voted today to approve a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure. The measure, CanG, was previously approved by the nation’s Bundestag in February.

The measure had faced opposition in the Bundesrat, a legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder of Germany at the federal level. The opposition within the legislative body sought to delay the implementation of adult-use cannabis legalization in Germany by forcing the measure into a mediation committee.

However, with today’s successful vote, the first provisions of the measure are set to take effect days from now on April 1st.

“This is a historic day for Germany, ultimately even an event of the century. It was time to initiate a paradigm shift in drug policy, ending the failed prohibition policy of the last hundred years. The law, although still stigmatizing and prohibitive in detail, is a start towards introducing a modern drug policy that addresses health protection and the civil liberties of the population equally fairly, not only in the case of cannabis.” stated Kai Friedrich Niermann, leading attorney at KFN+ Law Office, about today’s historic vote.

“The law, which will now come into force on April 1 after the Bundesrat decided not to appeal to the Mediation Committee, will change Germany and make it more liberal, and will also attract attention in other European countries.” Friedrich Niermann also stated.

On April 1, 2024, adults in Germany will be able to cultivate cannabis plants in their private residences in addition to being able to possess a personal amount of cannabis. Noncommercial cannabis clubs will also be permitted as part of the ‘first phase’ of legalization in Germany. Eventually, regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs will also be permitted in Germany.

“Despite strong voices calling for the convention of the Mediation Committee, which would have further delayed the legalization significantly, the Federal Council has paved the way for the bill to come into effect on 1 April 2024. It appears that the minister of health’s so-called protocol declaration shortly before the Council vote has produced the intended effect of convincing the moderately skeptical state representatives.” stated Peter Homberg of leading international law firm Dentons.

“The more restrictive interpretation the minister promised in his non-binding declaration is, however, not yet reflected in the law itself. The most interesting questions are now how the law will be applied in practice and whether, shortly after entering into force, it will be amended to keep up with the minister’s promises. The development of the coming weeks will be of great interest to the cultivation associations, which may have to adjust their intended organizational setup.” Homberg also stated.

Reactions from lawmakers in the Bundestag were swift after today’s successful vote.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach reportedly issued a “protocol declaration” to the Bundesrat ahead of today’s vote to prevent a delay in the measure’s approval. If the measure was referred to a mediation committee it was expected to delay implementation of legalization by as much as six months. Instead, the measure is still on track to be implemented on April 1st.

“The fight was worth it, legalization of cannabis is coming on Easter Monday!” Lauterbach said in a social media post (translated from German to English). “Please use the new opportunity responsibly and help protect children and young people. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the black market today.”

Lawmakers in Germany will now switch their focus to crafting the ‘second phase’ of Germany’s legalization plan which will involve the launch of regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs. The pilot programs will permit cultivators, retailers, and consumers to participate in legal commerce at a local level to collect data and conduct research.