Germany legalizes weed
Germany legalizes weed

Das Bong! Germany Legalizes Recreational Cannabis as Europe's Green Wave Officially Kicks Off!

Germany technically becomes the 3rd European country to legalize weed, but by far the most important one!

Posted by:
Laurel Leaf on Friday Mar 1, 2024

Germany legalizes marijuana

Germany has made a groundbreaking move by giving the go-ahead for personal use of recreational cannabis, signaling a notable change in the nation's drug policy. The federal parliament of Germany, the Bundestag, finalized this historic decision today. A substantial 407 MPs rallied behind the legislation; 226 stood in opposition, and four opted to abstain.


Now, the ball is in the court of the Bundesrat, the legislative body representing the sixteen Länder at the federal level. They'll be taking a close look at the bill. However, it's important to note that their "consent" is not a make-or-break kind of approval.


On April 1, the Cannabis Act (or CanG, as it's casually known) will officially kick in for possession and cultivation. It's a step toward a more open approach to cannabis, but there's a twist – no green light for retail sales. Keep your eyes peeled for the cannabis social clubs, expected to roll into action from July 1. The weed landscape in Germany is indeed transforming, beginning with the early approval of medical marijuana in Germany years ago.


In a noteworthy stride, Germany becomes the third European Union member to nod to the legalization of recreational cannabis for personal use, standing alongside Malta and Luxembourg. This decision ripples through Europe, signifying a significant pivot as the EU's powerhouse, already a key player in the medical cannabis scene, embraces personal cannabis use.


The freshly minted legislation orchestrates a pivotal shift by extracting cannabis from the grip of the Narcotics Act (BtMG). It not only sanctions individuals to carry up to 25 grams in public spaces but also grants them the leeway to have 50 grams within the sanctuary of their homes.


Noteworthy is the provision allowing the cultivation of three cannabis plants per person in the domestic realm. Further innovating the landscape, the law ushers in the concept of cannabis social clubs, each capped at 500 members, allowing participants to procure up to 50 grams monthly.


However, there are boundaries set by the new law. Cannabis consumption is strictly prohibited in schools, facilities for children and youth, children's playgrounds, and publicly accessible sports facilities within a 100-meter radius.


The legislation also extends a hand to those with prior possession or personal cultivation convictions. Individuals previously charged for up to 25 grams or cultivating a maximum of three plants can seek deletion of these convictions from the Federal Central Register upon request. It's a move toward a more forgiving stance on past cannabis-related offenses.

Germany's Journey Toward Cannabis Legalization

Germany's journey toward legalization has needed to be smoother. The motivation behind this move is anchored in combating the black market, shielding children and youth, and upholding public health.


The Traffic Light Coalition, a coalition government comprising the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP), and Alliance 90/The Greens, integrated legalization into their agenda after the 2021 elections.


Initially, the plan included the sale of cannabis products, mirroring U.S. state regulations on adult-use cannabis. However, legal roadblocks forced the coalition to pivot, steering clear of breaching international and European laws. Consequently, they unveiled a two-pronged strategy.


Firstly, the nod was given to the legalization of recreational cannabis for personal use, endorsing possession and cultivation. Simultaneously, the framework allowed for the establishment of cannabis social clubs, taking cues from Spain's approach, where cannabis maintains an illegal status.


Secondly, Germany is gearing up for a pilot program, experimenting with the controlled sale of recreational cannabis products. This initiative aims to evaluate the impact of such sales on public health, drawing inspiration from Switzerland and, more recently, the Netherlands.


In the thick of the legalization process, expert panels had their say, and opposition parties voiced strong criticism. Despite the dissent, the coalition government pressed forward. Even within the SPD, some members raised concerns, yet the march towards legalization remained steadfast. It's been a journey filled with debates, revisions, and a determined stride toward a new era in cannabis regulation.

Absence of A Legal Cannabis Market

A pivotal aspect of legalization lies in simplifying operations for both medical cannabis companies and patients by removing cannabis from the narcotic list. This shift in approach by Germany and other EU member states might not deliver the anticipated economic boost due to the absence of a legally regulated cannabis market.


Had recreational cannabis reform included legal sales, it could have unleashed a potential economic windfall. A 2021 study from the University of Düsseldorf estimated that legal sales could have generated over $5.3 billion in additional annual tax revenue and created approximately 27,000 legal jobs in the cannabis industry and hundreds of new German cannabis-based companies.


To spark a dialogue within the EU about loosening restrictions on a legal cannabis market, Germany could utilize the second pillar. This part of the plan focuses on regional pilot projects with commercial supply chains. However, specific details about the launch and execution of these projects remain undisclosed.


In the interim, Germany has an opportunity to utilize the time leading up to the implementation of the second pillar. They can leverage the ongoing assessment of the impact of personal use legalization to initiate a broader EU conversation.


This discussion aims at reconsidering specific laws, paving the way for the legal sale of recreational cannabis products across the European Union. It's a strategic pause for reflection and potential reform.

Can Germany's Cannabis Legalization Achieve Its Objectives?

The attainment of Germany's anticipated goals through legalization remains uncertain. Shifting from an illegal to a legal market doesn't happen overnight, a reality evident in the experiences of legalized cannabis in various U.S. states and Canada.


Numerous factors contribute to this, especially in Germany, where not every cannabis consumer can easily access a cannabis social club or cultivate their plants. Established relationships with trusted suppliers may keep many users from switching to legal channels immediately.


A legalized market, however, holds the potential to significantly undermine the current monopoly of the illicit market, which presently dominates cannabis sales in the country.

Furthermore, ensuring public health poses a challenge, particularly in monitoring cannabis social clubs to ensure the quality standards of the supplied products. The implementation of such monitoring is yet to unfold.


Beyond the uncertainties, Germany has, however, shattered a long-standing taboo by legalizing cannabis for personal use. This historic move breaks free from the prolonged criminalization of cannabis consumption in the country.


Moreover, the legalization of personal cannabis use in Germany could catalyze other EU member states. The Czech Republic has already set the wheels in motion for the legalization of personal cannabis use.


In contrast, the Netherlands, having initiated a pilot program on controlled cannabis sales, maybe another country following in Germany's footsteps. The ripples of change are potentially expanding across the European landscape.






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