Germany Expected To Introduce Long-Awaited Legalization Measure In Two Weeks
During a live stream episode of ‘4:20-Cannatalk!’ featuring German governing coalition members and drug policy spokespersons of the Social Democratic Party Dirk Heidenblut (SPD) and Carmen Wegge (SPD) on Instagram (April 3, 2023, at 8 p.m. CET), the lawmakers announced that a long-awaited adult-use legalization measure would be formally introduced ‘in two weeks.’
“It would be nice if the draft law would be presented on 20.4.2023.” said Carmen Wegge during the live stream (translated from German to English).
The measure will reportedly involve a two-faceted approach to adult-use legalization in Germany, with the first phase involving home cultivation, ‘noncommercial’ cannabis clubs, and the suspension of cannabis prohibition enforcement as it pertains to personal use, possession, and cultivation.
“The first part of the reform measure could come into force before the summer break of the Bundestag, as Wegge and Heidenblut are speculating. This would be an urgently needed relief for millions of consumers. What this 2-phase approach means for the commercial route and the numerous companies preparing for a free market model, remains to be seen,” said Kai Friedrich Niermann of law firm KFN+.
Nationwide adult-use sales, which is what many German lawmakers were pushing for, will have to wait until the second phase of the legalization effort can be pursued.
“For reasons of European law, comprehensive legalization is obviously not feasible in the short term. We are therefore supporting Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and the Federal Government with practicable ones Steps towards legalization. From our point of view, these can be model projects, decriminalization and self-cultivation.” SPD leadership previously stated according to initial reporting by Legal Tribune Online.
The announcement of the pending formal introduction of the legalization measure comes after several months of Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach lobbying the European Union for permission to proceed.
The premise of Minister Lauterbach’s argument to the European Union is that Germany’s public health outcomes would be better if people were consuming regulated products versus unregulated products.
Many cannabis advocates inside and outside of Germany were hopeful that the European Union would sign off on the launch of a regulated national industry in Germany, however, it appears that will have to wait.
Despite having to wait longer for national sales, the significance of the first facet of Germany’s reported legalization measure cannot be overstated. Cannabis prohibition is a failed public policy in Germany, and its time that the nation took a more sensible approach.
According to a 2021 report from Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf, “legalization leads to significant savings in criminal prosecution.” The report’s authors stated that Germany would save 1.05 billion euros annually by no longer enforcing cannabis prohibition, in addition to judiciary savings of 313 million euros per year.
“Banning cannabis is harmful and expensive, billions are wasted on pointless police operations. The money would be used much more effectively for education, prevention and help. It’s time for legalization!” said DHV Managing Director Georg Wurth at the time of the report’s publishing.
Cannabis commerce involving adult-use sales will not be entirely prohibited under the reported first phase of German legalization. Local pilot programs are expected to launch, like what is underway in Switzerland, albeit presumably on a much larger scale.
“This is the biggest cannabis news of the decade. Within 3 years, Germany will have the biggest federally regulated cannabis market in the world,” said Alex Rogers, founder, and CEO of the International Cannabis Business Conference.
When national sales eventually launch, Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf estimates that 27,000 jobs will be created and that the total revenue generation to Germany’s public coffers will be roughly 4.7 billion euros per year.
The first facet of the reported pending legalization measure will involve a possession limit that may be as much as 50 grams per adult. The plant limit for home cultivation will likely end up being between 3-5 plants per adult household.
Gifting cannabis between adults will likely also be permitted according to the reported measure, with the legal age being set at 18 years old.