By / August 22, 2023

Germany Launches a Cannabis Risk Reduction Campaign

Last week, members of the German government adopted a bill that will allow the country to take its first steps toward cannabis reform. However, that’s not to say the country is no longer averse to a good old scare campaign, as the health ministry has simultaneously launched a campaign based around a “Legal, but…” message, where the “but…” is followed by a message highlighting the “risks” of cannabis.

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The German Cannabis Bill Itself

The bill, still pending approval from Parliament, plans to remove cannabis from the narcotics law and regulate it under the new Cannabis Law (CanG). This implements the first phase of Germany’s revised two-pillar approach to the legalization of cannabis for adult use.

The first pillar of the Cannabis Law will authorize private, non-commercial cultivation for adult personal use through Cannabis Social Clubs, which are cannabis cultivation associations.

The legislation plans to legalize private cultivation of up to three plants, with possession of up to 25 grams no longer being considered a criminal offense.

Cannabis consumption will remain banned for individuals under 18, with quantity and THC level restrictions for those aged 18 to 21.

Bill Aims to Rectify Failure of Old Attitudes

The bill aims to rectify the failure of the country’s drug policy by reducing drug-related crime and curbing consumption while also ensuring the long-awaited decriminalization of those who choose to consume.

Federal Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir, commented on the decision: “Today, this coalition has taken an important step towards a progressive and realistic drug policy: private cultivation, possession, and consumption of cannabis will become legal for adults.

The law ensures the long-awaited decriminalization of many who consume cannabis solely for their own use and, at the same time, finally enhances the protection of minors. In this way, we eliminate the commercial basis of the local dealer and create safe, controlled, and legal access to cannabis for adults with cannabis clubs.”

“At the same time, we will prioritize prevention and health protection to educate our youth, in particular, about the risks and consequences of consuming cannabis. With this law, we strike a balance between individual freedom and public provision.”

“Legal, but…”

Child and youth protection should be a central element of the legislation.

Following the government’s decision, the Federal Ministry of Health launched its first prevention campaign to educate youth and young adults about the potential harms of cannabis consumption, especially on the developing brain.

The campaign, based on the slogan “Legal, but…”, will be broadcast on the ministry’s digital channels to highlight the “apparent contradiction” between legalization and consumption risks.

Materials available on the Health Ministry’s website include phrases like: 

  • “Cannabis: Legal, but… not in the mood for a panic attack.”
  • “Cannabis: legal, but… I prefer broccoli.”
  • “Cannabis: Legal, but… dangerous.”

Health Minister, Professor Karl Lauterbach, stated: “The Cannabis Law marks a turning point in what has unfortunately been a failed cannabis policy. The goal is to push back the black market and drug-related crime, curb the trade of adulterated or toxic substances, and reduce the number of consumers. Consumption remains prohibited for young people and should only be possible to a limited extent for young adults.”

“This restriction is essential because cannabis is particularly harmful to the developing brain. To prevent teenagers from consuming regardless, we are already starting an information campaign. No one should be mistaken about the law. Cannabis consumption is legalized. It remains dangerous nonetheless.”

A New Era for Cannabis

The news was welcomed by many players in the European cannabis industry as a “bold step forward,” though some fear that restrictions imposed on associations – such as being limited to “industrial zones” – are “unfeasible.”

Niklas Kouparanis, CEO and co-founder of the German cannabis company Bloomwell Group reacted to the news: “The Council of Ministers did not have any major surprises, but one thing is clear: Europe’s largest economy, located at the heart of the European Union, is ushering in a new era for cannabis. The legislation presented today marks a turning point in EU cannabis regulation and sets a positive example of what’s possible for the rest of Europe and the world.”

The bill will now be submitted to Parliament, where the government will vote on its adoption. However, with the tripartite coalition government in power, Mr. Kouparanis hinted that this is merely a formality.

He added: “Now that we’ve started the movement, all that remains is for the Bundestag to pass the law. With Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s tripartite coalition government, the law’s adoption should be just a formality, even if heated debates are expected in the coming days and weeks. But if the cannabis clubs provided for by the law open at the beginning of next year, it will be the point of no return – adult use legalization policies must continue.”

(Featured image by Ahmed Zayan via Unsplash)

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