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Removing Cannabis From The German Narcotics Act – Is It A Pipe Dream?

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Thailand has just done it, why can’t Germany?

With all the celebratory hoopla that came with the news that Germany would, finally, after experimenting with the medical question during the last four years of the Angela Merkel headed, CDU led government, now move with the new Traffic Light Coalition into the future that includes recreational reform, have now come the inevitable questions.

Namely, for all the excitement, those on the regulatory and legal side of the coin have already been raising red flags about how quickly all of this could move – even if the government does enact formal adult-use legislation next summer or fall.

Namely, cannabis is still listed in the German Narcotics Act. And this still trips up even the CBD industry here. See, if nothing else, the embarrassing police raid on a national grocery store in Munich that may (or even may not) have been selling THC-free, CBD cookies and other “cannabis” products (as advertised by the store themselves) just this year.

However, as Thailand has just proved, this legal doom and gloom may be a bit displaced. See what just happened here. Namely, the government just removed cannabis from their national narcotics act completely.

Is This Realistic in Germany?

There will, no doubt, be a great deal of discussion about how to proceed with a recreational market while preserving the status of cannabis (even the flower) as a medical substance. 

Here is the difference between how things are proceeding in Germany vs. Thailand. The first is that in Thailand, the government has allowed a waiver of GMP standards for medical cannabis if it is grown domestically. Local farmers are allowed to deliver plants directly to hospitals.

This seems highly unlikely aus Deutschland, home of the modern pharmaceutical industry (along with the U.S.), birthed in the 1930s. 

However, one should not entirely count this kind of development out. Indeed, just over DACH border, in Switzerland, authorities are (sort of) doing the same thing as the Thai government with the advent of their own recreational trial. Namely, they are also waiving both EU GMP and Novel Food regulation on early-stage, trial products for adult use market products. 

These, however, in turn, will first be distributed via pharmacies, which themselves are under strict national and international regulatory rules, even if Switzerland is outside of the EU.

Beyond this, the Czech Republic also seems to be going a similar route. So, the idea the Thai government is now implementing is not unknown here.

That said, given the amount of money the government itself stands to make from recreational licensing, it is unlikely. And many questions remain about how the Germans will in fact proceed. It is also unlikely that the plant will be removed from the Narcotics Act completely, but rather provisions made for its use in both medical and non-medical situations, the latter of which could easily resemble the alcohol industry. Then again, this being the cannabis industry, it is impossible to predict what the path will actually be, even after the establishment of the market itself at least on the federal regulatory level.

Be sure to book your tickets early to the International Cannabis Business Conference when it returns to Berlin in the summer of 2022!