It’s been almost one year since Germany has made efforts to find the best of both worlds regarding the legalization of cannabis recreational use. Since 2017, Germany has legalized the medical use of cannabis, while since 2022 Germany has been preparing the draft law PiIlar 1 without reaching an agreement on the legislation. In October 2022, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented to the Commissioner Olaf Scholz the initial draft bill on legalizing the recreational use of cannabis by adults reporting that the government can proceed after European Commission approval.
Minister Lauterbach stated that 4 million Germans use cannabis which means that there is a continuously evolving illegal market concerning cannabis products. Also, the minister stated to the international broadcaster Deutsche Welle that Germany’s recreational cannabis legislation is the most liberal cannabis legalization in Europe, leading to a safe and well-regulated cannabis market.
What was the original plan for Legalization?
Three political parties, the Green Party (Die Grünen), the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), have been supporting cannabis legalization. The coalition government proposed a draft law allowing adults, over 18 years, to purchase and possess up to 20-30 cannabis grams for personal use. Also, the draft bill designed the legalization of cannabis cultivation, possession, and distribution in a regulated and controlled market by the State.
The initial plan referred to people over 21 years old who could purchase cannabis with 15% THC, while those 18-21 years old would be able to purchase cannabis with 10% THC. According to the data leaked to the German press, the law was planning cannabis cultivation for personal use of up to three plants. At the same time, the draft bill was suggesting specific licenses for pharmacies and specialized stores to distribute cannabis products.
Revision of the draft law
In April 2023, there was an update of the draft law after an intervention by the European Commission, withdrawing the licensed stores that can distribute cannabis while allowing cannabis cultivation for personal use. Instead, they propose the creation of non-profit “cannabis clubs” that can register up to 500 members for which they can cultivate cannabis, almost like the Spanish cannabis social clubs. The members can pay a yearly fee for cannabis purchases. The amount of the paid subscription will differ according to the number of cannabis club members. Furthermore, in the updated cannabis draft bill, people over 18 years old can be members of the cannabis clubs and purchase cannabis products. People over 21 years old will be able to buy up to 50 grams of cannabis, while adults under 21 and over 18 years old will be able to buy up to 30 grams of cannabis. According to the updated cannabis draft law, it will be possible to register only in one cannabis club.
Also, Federal Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner, stated that cannabis legalization in Germany will have been applied by the end of 2023. However, the Commissioner of Narcotic Drugs at the Federal Ministry of Health stated that the law will probably be applied around 2024.
Agricultural Minister Cem Özdemir reported to the independent global news organization, Associated Press, that the European Commission set certain limits that have to be respected. At the same time, German officials will do their best for the legalization of recreational cannabis use by adults.
In August 2023 the draft law was approved by the federal government of Germany (Bundesregierung) disposing the law to the Bundesrat for further clarifications and modifications by the single States.
According to the latest developments, the Lower House of Parliament seems to have reached an agreement on the legalisation of recreational cannabis use. As Carmen Wegge, a member of the Lower House of Parliament with the Social Democrats, wrote on X (formerly Twitter), legalisation is expected to be decided in December 2023. In her account, she says that legalisation is not an easy decision, and everything is being done to design an improved bill that is in everyone’s interest.
According to the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), health spokeswoman for the Green Party Kirsten- Kappert Gonther, reports the new data concerning the improved draft law on recreational cannabis use by adults. The new data show that the possession of dried cannabis will be doubled for adults from 25 to 50 grams reducing the exclusion zones for cannabis consumption out of schools, care centers, and playgrounds from 200 – 100 meters. Also, cannabis possession in public spaces settled to 25-50 g and 50-60 grams in private areas will be considered an administrative offense while the excess of these limits will be regarded as a penal offense.
The Ministry of Transport will publish THC limits for drivers during March 2024. According to the data, cannabis legalization will be approved by 1st April 2024, while cannabis clubs may open on 1st July 2024. The draft law is expected to be published for a vote this week in the Bundestag. Afterwards, there will be a period in which the legal body of the German parliament ( Bundesrat), will approve the updated draft law.
In attendance of the news, we hope that this procedure will not conclude in an April Fools’ Day joke for 2024, but in a serious attempt regarding the controversial cannabis plant which will be applied in other European states too, such as Greece.