On Wednesday, November 24th, the newly elected German ‘traffic light’ coalition government announced they will be legalizing and regulating recreational cannabis for adults. Details have yet to be announced.
The following is stated on line 2889 on page 87 (of a total of 177) of the coalition agreement (PDF):
Wir führen die kontrollierte Abgabe von Cannabis an Erwachsene zu Genusszwecken in lizenzierten Geschäften ein. Dadurch wird die Qualität kontrolliert, die Weitergabe verunreinigter Substanzen verhindert und der Jugendschutz gewährleistet. Das Gesetz evalueert wir nach vier Jahren auf gesellschaftliche Auswirkungen. Modelle zum Drugchecking en Maßnahmen der Schadensminderung ermöglichen en bauen wir aus.
We are introducing the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for consumption in licensed stores. This controls the quality, prevents the transfer of contaminated substances and guarantees the protection of minors. We evaluate the law after four years for social impact. We are expanding models for drug checking and harm reduction measures.
The coalition agreement is now being presented to the constituency of the three parties. December 4 and 5 at the SPD and FDP, while the Greens will do it digitally within 10 days.
“The traffic light has lived up to its own claim to be a genuine reform coalition and end the stalemate after 16 years of CDU-led governments. Cannabis is the best example of this. The new government is finally focusing on the facts and is taking bold steps internationally. Many countries will follow suit and also legalize cannabis,” said Deutsche Hanverband (DHV) spokesman Georg Wurth in a press release
The DHV is less enthusiastic, however, about the fact that it is evidently not allowed for consumers to grow their own, the Hanfverband states in their press release.
It is not clear why cannabis should be treated differently than tobacco and alcohol, for which the legislature allows the possibility of self-production. In addition, the cultivation of cannabis at home for regular consumers with higher consumption and low income is an important alternative to the specialist shop. According to the DHV, they would continue to grow themselves as before. Therefore it does not make sense to continue to criminalize these consumers, especially since self-cultivation deprives the illegal black market of sales and protects consumers from excipients.
The DHV is therefore calling for home cultivation to be legalized.
The approved legalization of cannabis is a milestone in German drug policy though. However, the concrete legal and practical implementation still has many pitfalls in store. The DHV is pleased to continue to support this process constructively and to ensure that the cannabis market is not exclusively dominated by corporations in the future.
The next steps
After the government is confirmed, they will have to draft a bill or tackle previously failed legislation. That sounds easy, but it’s not. There are quite a few disagreements about how to do it for example. After that, the bill still needs to be approved.
Depending on the content of the bill, it must therefore first be adopted by the Bundestag, after which the Bundesrat also has to give it okay. The Bundesrat is a kind of Senate, which is largely in the hands of the conservatives for at least another two years.
How exactly is also unclear. But we do have some clues. For example, the pharmacists' union is looking to become a point of sale. But so far they only mention 'licensed shops' in the coalition agreement.
If Germany does indeed legalize cannabis, it could create €4.7 billion a year and 27,000 jobs, according to a newly published study.
The rest of the European Union (and the world) expected to follow suit
When everything is said and done, it is expected for the European Union and the rest of the world to follow suit. Already the European countries of Luxemburg, Switzerland and Malta have said they will legalise cannabis too.
Meanwhile the Netherlands is looking to upgrade it’s current tolerance policy by having a four year long pilot with a regulated cannabis supply chain for the coffeeshops in ten municipalities (not including Amsterdam). This has been delayed however and while the pilot runs, it is not expected any other changes will happen. That said, it might take five years before the Netherlands is expected to join the legal cannabis club. By then, the rest of the world has possibly already legalised cannabis. Which is ironic, to say the least.