Germany’s coalition government laid down plans to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
1. Regulating cannabis
Without giving out a clear timeline, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced on Wednesday a cornerstone paper on planned legislation to regulate the controlled distribution and consumption of cannabis for recreational purposes among adults. According to the plan, acquiring and possessing up to 20 to 30 grams of recreational cannabis for personal consumption would be made legal.
Moreover, private self-cultivation would be permitted to a limited extent and ongoing investigations and criminal proceedings connected to cases no longer illegal would be terminated. The government also plans to introduce a special consumption tax, as well as developing cannabis-related education and prevention work.
“The biggest question in the current legislative proposal is and remains the interpretation by the European Commission,” Niklas Kouparanis, CEO of Bloomwell Group, one of Germany’s largest medical cannabis operators, said in a public statement. “If the Commission says no to Germany’s current approach to cannabis legalization, our government should seek alternative solutions”.
Bloomwell Group’s Co-founder Anna-Sophia Kouparanis welcomed the elimination of THC limits on products in the legal market and the provision of amnesty for those who have been convicted of prior cannabis offenses. “It would be optimal to also extend considerations to the players in the current illicit market and help them transition into the legal adult-use market,” said Kouparanis.
2. Revenue source: saving about €4.7 billion
The move had been promised by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government hoping to become among the first countries in Europe to make weed legal. Last year, the coalition government struck an agreement to introduce legislation during its four-year term to allow the controlled distribution of cannabis in licensed shops, similar to what happens in the Netherlands. According to a survey found last year, legalising cannabis could bring Germany annual tax revenues and cost savings of about €4.7 billion ($4.7 billion) and create 27,000 new jobs.
3. Pending approval
Despite the economic promise, the legalisation plan has not been welcomed by all federal states. For example, Bavaria’s Health Minister, Klaus Holetschek, warned that Germany should not become a drug tourism destination in Europe. The Green Party, which governs Germany in coalition with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Free Democrats (FPD), has long advocated for adult-use cannabis legalization and supports the plans for draft legislation. Nonetheless, Germany’s Health Minister said the country will present the paper to the European Commission for pre-assessment and will only draft a law once the Commission gives it a green light. Before that, the plan needs to be approved in the German parliament, the Bundestag. If successful, Lauterbach said the plan could become law in 2024.