By / April 3, 2023

Germany Will Not Introduce Full Cannabis Legalization, after All

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wanted to introduce cannabis legalization as soon as possible. Now, the leadership of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) admits it probably won’t happen for a while as the obstacles in Brussels are apparently too great.

German authorities are, therefore, reportedly planning to proceed with a scaled-down version of cannabis legalization after abandoning – at least for now – a more ambitious proposal that would have paved the way for legal cannabis sales throughout the country.

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Lightweight Cannabis Legalization in Germany

“We are on the right track. We have revised the proposals a bit,” Lauterbach said in brief comments Friday, according to the Zeit. He added that he would “soon” return to the European Union (EU) with a “good proposal” that protects the overall health and safety of young people.

The new plan is a two-part model that appears to be an attempt by German officials to legalize cannabis as widely as possible without going against EU rules.

First, the policy change would allow limited cannabis sales in certain areas – akin to a local pilot program like in Switzerland or, in some ways, the Netherlands – for a period of four years. This would allow officials to see the impact of the reform in both large cities and more rural areas. If the program is deemed a success, it could be expanded to other parts of the country.

Germany to Allow Home Cannabis Cultivation

While this part of the proposal will be submitted to the European Commission for review, Lauterbach’s plan would also allow Germans to grow their own cannabis for personal use, confirming rumors of the upcoming decriminalization of cannabis in Germany. This change would not require a green light from the EU.

Details of the home cultivation rule have not yet been finalized, but reports indicate that consumers could be allowed to possess 20 to 30 cannabis plants under the proposal. In addition, non-commercial growers would then be able to organize and distribute cannabis among themselves through Cannabis Social Clubs like those that already exist in Spain.

Supporters of legalization in Germany said Friday that they were eager to learn more about Lauterbach’s proposal.

“Finally! Kristine Lütke, a member of the German parliament and the Free Democratic Party’s spokesperson on addiction and drug policy, wrote on Twitter, “I’m really looking forward to learning more about Mr. Lauterbach’s proposal. “Really looking forward to hearing the exact details!”

A Failure of Cannabis Legalization Not Yet Acted Upon

All of these measures fall far short of the traffic light coalition’s original plan to fully legalize cannabis in the short term. For some time, there were indications that this project would encounter obstacles in Brussels. With its decision, the SPD leadership now admits that these obstacles are probably too great and that legalization should, therefore, not be expected anytime soon.

“Our goal remains a complete legalization that also covers cultivation and distribution in accordance with European law. We support the federal government in taking the necessary measures,” the SPD emphasized. Minister Lauterbach actually wanted to present a law for the legalization of cannabis throughout Germany at the end of March, for which he had already presented background information. The draft was then to be sent to the European Commission in Brussels for review.

Lauterbach Still Wants Full Legalization

With such a regulation, the German government wanted to go beyond the simple decriminalization that other countries have introduced. However, it was always considered uncertain whether the German draft would be compatible with an EU framework decision. This obliges EU member states to criminalize the illegal trade in drugs such as cannabis. After a visit to Brussels, Lauterbach recently reported very good feedback.

The Ministry of Health told Spiegel that consultations on the planned bill have not yet been completed. Lauterbach wants to stick to “full legalization.”

(Featured image by Felix Mittermeier via Pexels)

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