By / July 8, 2024

Cannabis Clubs Struggle with German Bureaucratic Maze

From July 1, 2024, cannabis enthusiasts in Germany can establish private cannabis clubs, marking another step in the legalization process. New regulations allow for the creation of clubs with up to 500 members who can collectively grow, distribute, and consume cannabis. Despite these regulations, cannabis clubs must contend with numerous bureaucratic challenges that significantly hinder their operations.

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German Cannabis Legalization Background

The first phase of cannabis legalization in Germany began on April 1, 2024. From that day, individuals over the age of 18 can legally possess up to 25 grams of cannabis and grow up to three plants for personal use. The new regulations also allow for the storage of up to 50 grams of dried cannabis at home. This legalization responded to the growing social acceptance of cannabis and addressed the issue of numerous offenses related to its possession and consumption.

The second phase of legalization started on July 1, 2024, introducing the possibility of establishing private cannabis clubs. These cannabis clubs can have up to 500 members who are allowed to collectively grow cannabis, distribute it among themselves, and consume it in designated areas. However, the new regulations also introduce several restrictions aimed at controlling the activities of these clubs and preventing abuses.

Structure and Operation of Cannabis Clubs

Cannabis clubs in Germany can have a maximum of 500 members, enabling the formation of communities interested in collective cannabis cultivation and consumption. Each club member is entitled to receive up to 25 grams of cannabis daily and 50 grams monthly. The clubs’ operations are strictly regulated, with oversight ensuring compliance with current regulations.

One of the main problems faced by the cannabis clubs is the lack of clear guidelines regarding oversight and licensing. The registration process for clubs is complicated and requires fulfilling numerous formalities, often leading to delays and frustration among members. The absence of uniform regulations means each administrative unit can interpret the rules in its own way, further complicating the clubs’ activities.

Bureaucratic Challenges and Problems for Cannabis Clubs

Steffen Geyer, head of the Dachverband der Deutschen Cannabis Social Clubs organization, emphasizes that federal authorities are unprepared for the new situation. “Certainly, there will be hundreds of clubs applying for licenses. How long this will take and how many will succeed is still impossible to predict,” says Geyer. The licensing procedures are complex, and the lack of appropriate guidelines causes confusion.

Projections regarding the number of cannabis clubs applying for licenses indicate potential hundreds of applications, which could overwhelm the administration. The lack of preparation and clear procedures may lead to prolonged delays in the registration process. As a result, many clubs may not be able to operate legally for a long time, calling into question the effectiveness of the new regulations.

Difficulties related to the licensing process and its expected duration pose a serious challenge for German cannabis clubs. Without adequate support and clear guidelines from the authorities, the legalization process may not bring the expected benefits, and cannabis clubs will be forced to battle bureaucratic obstacles that can significantly hinder their operations.

Social and Cultural Changes

The legalization of cannabis in Germany has brought significant social and cultural changes. One of the most important effects has been the reduction in crimes related to cannabis consumption. Steffen Geyer notes that since the introduction of the new regulations, the number of crimes related to the possession of small amounts of cannabis has significantly decreased. “In previous years, someone was arrested every three minutes for possessing a small amount of cannabis. Now that has changed,” says Geyer.

The demographics of cannabis consumers have also changed. Legalization has contributed to increasing acceptance of cannabis among older adults and the middle class. “In the last three months, I have noticed that the average age of cannabis consumers has significantly increased. Consumers have become more diverse, older, calmer, and more colorful,” adds Geyer. He also points to increased interest in cannabis among people over 50, who are increasingly visiting the Cannabis Museum in Berlin to obtain seeds and specialist literature.

Opposition to Legalization

Despite the positive changes, cannabis legalization in Germany has met with resistance from some groups. The German Police Union expresses concerns about potential threats from organized crime. Alexander Poitz, the union’s deputy head, warns that the new cannabis clubs could become targets for criminals looking to expand their operations.

Political opposition from the CDU/CSU party is also strongly against liberalization. They have announced that if they win the 2025 elections, they will reverse the changes introduced. Bavaria, governed by the CSU, has taken a particularly strict approach to inspections and enforcement. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann emphasizes that since legalization, there have been almost 3,000 cases of driving under the influence of cannabis, raising serious concerns about road safety.

Summary: German Cannabis Clubs & Legalization

Proponents of cannabis legalization highlight the benefits of transparent regulations and registration aimed at preventing the development of criminal groups. Steffen Geyer notes that Germany is drawing on the experiences of other countries, such as Canada, the USA, Uruguay, Malta, the Netherlands, and Spain, which have also introduced cannabis liberalization. These countries have implemented various regulations to prevent the mixing of the black market and the legal market.

German cannabis clubs must face numerous bureaucratic challenges that significantly hinder their operations. The clubs struggle with a lack of clear guidelines, complicated registration procedures, and delays that may discourage potential members. This indicates the need for further actions to simplify procedures and ensure effective oversight.

Despite these difficulties, cannabis legalization brings positive social and cultural changes, and growing acceptance among the public gives hope for the further development of this industry in Germany. It is important to continue working on regulations that will promote the legal and safe use of cannabis while minimizing risks associated with crime and health problems.

(Featured image by Elsa Olofsson via Unsplash)

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First published in Fakty Konopne, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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