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Slowing Down Legalization In Germany Is The Wrong Move

German Parliament

A coalition of SPD ministers from Hamburg, Thuringia, and Lower Saxony are trying to slow down cannabis policy modernization efforts in Germany. Germany’s current legalization effort was historically led by Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). If the coalition of SPD state ministers have their way, Minister Lauterbach’s bill will never become law.

What is currently being proposed is a multi-phase plan to modernize Germany’s adult-use cannabis policies. The first phase, which was approved this year by Germany’s federal cabinet, would legalize the personal cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis.

Additionally, the first phase would eventually permit noncommercial cannabis clubs to operate. The clubs would be subject to a host of regulations, including caps on the number of members they can have. Individual consumers would also be restricted to only possessing one membership at a time.

While Germany’s federal cabinet approved the first phase measure, it is now being considered by members of the Bundestag and it’s very likely that provisions of the bill will evolve, and not in a manner that the coalition of SPD state ministers are hoping for.

Unlike the SPD state ministers, who feel that the current measure being considered is too liberal, many members of the Bundestag have expressed publicly that they feel the current measure is too restrictive.

The second phase of legalization according to Minister Lauterbach’s proposal would involve permitting regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs, similar to what is in operation in Switzerland and being considered in the Netherlands. Although, Germany’s pilot programs are expected to be conducted on a larger scale than compared to its European counterparts’ programs.

A cannabis pilot program, in theory, provides national lawmakers the opportunity to collect data at a local level in order to be better suited to craft national cannabis laws and regulations. Full national sales are not within the scope of the current legalization effort in Germany, although there’s a lot of the process left to be completed and anything is possible.

Germany’s Health Minister participated in ongoing discussions with the European Union regarding cannabis policy, and Minister Lauterbach indicated that national sales would run afoul of EU agreements. Malta and Luxembourg have passed national legalization measures, however, they do not include provisions for national sales.

Slowing down the process in Germany is unacceptable. If anything, it needs to be sped up. Cannabis prohibition is a failed public policy, and regulation is a more sensible approach. Canada is proving that right now, and it would be wise for Germany and every other country to modernize their own cannabis policies.