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Germany Votes To Legalize Cannabis For Adults


Over two years after Germany’s current governing coalition was elected and announced plans to pass a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure, members of the German Bundestag have officially approved the adult-use legalization bill (CanG) by a 407-226 vote.

As was widely expected, the measure received sufficient votes earlier today in the Bundestag to pass, and components of the new German adult-use cannabis legalization law are expected to be implemented on April 1, 2024.

The measure’s approval comes after considerable discussions were held between the measure’s author, German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, and representatives from the European Union. The legalization bill faced opposition by various domestic lawmakers in Germany, however, efforts to derail the measure leading up to today’s vote failed.

According to the recently passed bill, adults in Germany will be able to cultivate up to three plants in private for personal use. Personal cultivation is expected to create considerable opportunities for companies that specialize in cultivation-related products and services such as seeds, grow lights, plant nutrients, harvesting equipment, odor control, and drying equipment.

In addition to being able to cultivate cannabis, adults in Germany will be able to possess a personal amount of cannabis. The possession limit will reportedly be set at 25 grams for adults when they are away from their private residence, and 50 grams at their private residence.

In addition to the expressed legal possession limit, penalties for possessing slightly more than the legal threshold will be considered an ‘administrative violation’ rather than a criminal offense yielding jail time.

Cannabis will be removed from Germany’s Narcotics List once the new law is implemented, marking a significant shift in German cannabis policy. The de-listing of cannabis will improve safe access for medical cannabis patients by removing various hurdles in the medical cannabis supply chain and streamlining processes for pharmacies. Cannabis research will be easier to pursue, and academic institutions may begin to receive national and/or EU-provided funds for specific research projects.

Noncommercial cannabis clubs are expected to launch as early as July 1, 2024, as part of the measure. Membership-based noncommercial clubs, from which adult consumers can legally source their cannabis, will be subjected to various regulations. Consumers will also be able to purchase seeds and clones from noncommercial clubs.

One of the sticking points leading up to today’s successful vote was the implementation of noncommercial clubs, and part of the coalition’s compromise is to reportedly stagger the implementation date.

“Cannabis had been banned in Germany since 1929, and even the cultivation of industrial hemp from 1982-1996. It then took over two decades until at least the medical potential of cannabis was recognized in Germany and patients were given access to medical cannabis through a legal reform. It took another 7 years, until today, until at least the possession of 25 g and the cultivation of three own plants was allowed. In so far, we can speak of an once-in-a-hundred-years event, provided of course that the CanG also clears the hurdle of the Federal Council. However, there is still a long way to go before complete destigmatization and fair legalization are achieved. Neither the consumers, nor the activists, nor the industry must let up on this path, but must continue to do everything in their power every day to ensure that this path can be taken successfully.” stated Kai Friedrich Niermann, leading attorney at KFN+ Law Office, about today’s historic vote.

All of the previously listed items are part of the ‘first phase’ of Germany’s legalization plan, often referred to as ‘the first pillar.’ The second phase/pillar involves the launch of regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs, similar to what is already in place in Switzerland, but on a significantly larger scale. Nationwide adult-use sales, similar to what is in place in Canada, will have to wait due to European Union restrictions.

“After a long discussion regarding the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes in Germany, the German parliament has today passed the “Cannabisgestz”. This is a major step in the German legalization process and the government intends to implement the law to become effective on April 1, 2024 to allow home grow and from July 1,2024 to allow the cultivation of recreational cannabis in community cultivation associations. However, it is possible that the implementation of the draft law may take some additional time depending on the decision of the Federal Council (Bundesrat) whether it refers the draft law to a mediation committee for further consideration of amendments. This could prolong the whole legalization process even for a couple of months.” stated Peter Homberg, Partner at Dentons, about today’s vote.

Per initial reporting by RND, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) does expect constitutional challenges against the planned legalization of cannabis consumption, although he expects that the law will stand up in court.