Germany Eyes April 2024 for Cannabis Legalization

Germany may finally be ready to legalize adult-use cannabis with new possession and cultivation rules.
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The Germany’s coalition government called the Traffic Light coalition, which combines individuals from the Social Democratic Party, Free Democratic Party, and The Greens, reportedly reached an agreement for cannabis regulation on Nov. 27. These recent discussions estimate that cannabis legalization could take effect starting on April 1, 2024, with social cannabis clubs potentially allowed to open as early as July 1, 2024.

“The #Cannabis law is coming! Finally: We are finally ending the failed ban policy! After intensive negotiations, there is now a law that focuses on youth and health protection , ends criminalization and is practical,” said The Green Party spokesperson Kirsten Kappert-Gonther in a translated social media post.

According to news outlet Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Kappert-Gonther said that the coalition has come to a consensus regarding possession and cultivation. With legalization, residents will be permitted to grow up to three plants at home, and have no more than 50 grams from cannabis cultivated at home (up from 25 grams in previous discussions). Cultivation will not be permitted within 100 metres (approximately 328 feet) from places where children frequent, such as daycare businesses, playgrounds, and schools. “In the negotiations, we have succeeded in finding practicable regulations that guarantee the protection of young people and health and make the decriminalization of adult users a reality,” said Kappert-Gonther.

While possession of more than 25 grams was the initial threshold for criminal conviction in an early draft, now people are allowed to carry 25-30 grams of cannabis in public, and 50-60 grams in private. Any more than these amounts is still considered a criminal offense, with fines of up to €30,000 ($38,000 USD). Previously, the fines were set to a maximum of €100,000 ($126,930).

DPA reports that the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is expected to propose a THC limit for impaired drivers by the end of March 2024 as well. “Communal consumption in cannabis clubs and edibles is not (yet) implemented,” Kappert-Gonther added on social media. “But what we were able to agree on together is a big step forward. Thank you to everyone who has campaigned for this law for decades!”

Currently the law is still a draft and subject to change, but the next step includes sending the current draft to the German Bundestag, or parliament, which could happen as early as next week. The Bundestag is separate from the German Bundesrat is a separate governing body that represents the country’s 16 states.

The resolution of cannabis legalization has been a long time coming in Germany. The Traffic Light Coalition announced its intentions to work together to legalize adult-use cannabis back in November 2021

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who had previously opposed cannabis legalization, shared that he had revised his opinion in summer 2022. By September 2022, Lauterbach announced that there would be five hearings to discuss cannabis legalization. “We are starting the preparatory phase of legislation. Being able to finally announce this is a special, gratifying moment for me personally,” Lauterbach said at the time. “Like many others, I have been working for years to ensure that we in Germany finally stop criminalizing cannabis users and start a modern and health-oriented cannabis policy.”

Earlier this year in April 2023, AP News reported that a scaled-back version of cannabis social clubs was being proposed. By July 2023, Germany officially revealed the details of its draft bill. “It is planned to pass the draft law in the federal cabinet during the summer break. The draft law will then be introduced into the parliamentary legislative process and discussed in both the German Bundestag and the Bundesrat in the autumn. The German Bundestag is responsible for the final decision on the law,” the Germany Ministry of Health stated. “The law does not require the approval of the Bundesrat. It is scheduled to come into force at the end of 2023. Once the bill comes into force, adults can legally smoke a joint in Germany under the proposed law. Until then, cannabis will remain prohibited.”

A final reading and vote on the cannabis legislation was initially supposed to be held last week but was delayed so it could be discussed next month, according to Germany politician Carmen Wegge. “The CannG will be decided in December,” Wegge wrote on social media. “This means that we are not keeping to the schedule. I know this is a huge disappointment for many. That’s why this decision wasn’t easy for anyone. However, well-designed improvements are in all of our interests.”

Kappert-Gonther also expressed the necessity of more time, with promises of improvement. “The #CannaG comes, just a little later. I am confident that the law will become significantly better as a result of the discussions. Some wording still needs to be worked on on some points. This is for a good cause, quality comes before time pressure. Completion scheduled for December,” Kappert-Gonther wrote online.

Hopefully progress will continue on track through December with the German Bundestag, which is said to follow discussion within the German Bundesrat.

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