06 October 2023

Germany plans to legalise cannabis but shuns cannabis-infused beverages

Germany | The limited legalisation of recreational cannabis is a central project of Germany’s ruling coalition - and highly controversial. The cabinet of social democrats, liberals and greens approved the bill in August. It will allow adult consumers to grow their own plants and obtain cannabis from non-commercial, so-called cultivation associations. Possession and consumption within limits will then be exempt from punishment.

However, the proposed law does not seek to legalise cannabis-infused beverages or foods as in the US, where federal states have made provisions for these products under their own laws.

The German law, which will need to wind its way through parliament, is to come into effect by the end of 2023 at the earliest.

In a recent poll (August 2023), 44 percent of Germans said they were in favour of cannabis legalisation, 52 percent against it.

Cannabis vs beer? Ahead of Bavaria’s state elections on 8 October, the Liberals canvased Munich with a provocative pro-legalisation claim (Photo: Volker Derlath)

Grow your own

The bill advises that adults will be allowed to possess up to 25 g of cannabis for personal use. They may also cultivate up to three female plants per adult person. For the time being, cultivation and distribution are to be made possible through non-profit cultivation associations, or cannabis clubs, as they are already permitted in some regions of Spain and in Malta, for example.

These associations may distribute a maximum of 25 g of cannabis per day per person to their members, but no more than 50 g in total per month.

Experienced stoners commented that the legal limit is so low that it will not eradicate the black market for cannabis.

No cannabis dispensaries yet

In a second step, the government will legalise commercial cannabis supply chains in selected cities. But the setting up of specialised cannabis shops needs to be agreed with the EU first.

Motorists under the influence

Even under the new law, anyone caught driving a car or motorbike under the influence of cannabis must expect to be classified as unfit to drive. Offenders will face a fine of at least EUR 500 (USD 526) if even a small amount of THC is detected. In the worst case, the driving licence can be revoked. However, the German Minister of Transport, Volker Wissing (Liberals), wants to set clear limits for cannabis in the near future - similar to alcohol.

Germany’s Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, who presented the bill, commented: “The Cannabis Bill marks a turning point in a cannabis drug policy which has failed. The aim is to curb the black market and drug-related crime, to prevent the lacing of cannabis with toxic substances and to reduce the number of users. For young people, cannabis consumption remains prohibited, for young adults it should only be possible to a limited extent. This restriction is necessary because cannabis is particularly harmful to the still growing brain. In order to prevent adolescents from using it, we have already launched an information campaign. No one should misunderstand the law. Cannabis use will be legalised. But cannabis still remains a dangerous drug.”

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