June 20, 2024  ⦿  

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Germany will move forward with a scaled-back cannabis reform

Germany cannabis reform turns reality as German officials intend to continue with a scaled-back version of cannabis legalization, having abandoned—at least for the time being—a more expansive proposal that would have legalized cannabis sales across the country.

Karl Lauterbach, the country’s health minister, had promised to unveil new cannabis laws by the end of the first quarter of the year. And, despite the fact that he was supposed to hold a press conference on Friday to discuss the Germany cannabis reform, the event was postponed due to illness and scheduling conflicts. Nonetheless, German media are reporting on the forthcoming reformulated scheme.

“We’re on the correct path. Lauterbach said in brief remarks on Friday, “We have revised the proposals a little bit,” according to a translation.

Cannabis in Europe

He stated that he would return to the European Union (EU) “soon” with a “good proposal” to protect both general health and the safety of young people. The new plan, first reported by Zeit, is a two-part model that appears to be an effort by German officials to legalize cannabis as widely as possible without violating EU rules.

First, the policy change would allegedly allow for limited marijuana sales in specific regions for four years, similar to a regional pilot program. This would enable officials to assess the impact of reform in both urban and rural areas. If the program is considered successful, it may be expanded to other regions of the country.

While that portion of the cannabis reform in Germany will be reviewed by the EU Commission, Lauterbach’s plan would also enable Germans to grow their own cannabis for personal use. According to reports, this move would not require the approval of the EU.

The details of the homegrow regulation have yet to be finalized, but according to reports, consumers may be permitted to possess 20 to 30 cannabis plants under the proposal. Furthermore, non-commercial growers could form cannabis clubs to coordinate and distribute marijuana among themselves. Such clubs already exist in the Netherlands and Spain, and Malta intends to enable them as well. Other aspect is the importation of bulk medicinal products to Germany for commercial purposes covered in other parts of the legislation.

Last year, officials from Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg met to talk cannabis legalization. On Friday, advocates for legalization in Germany said they were eager to learn more about Lauterbach’s plan.

“Finally!” Kristine Lütke, a German member of parliament and Free Democratic Party spokesperson on addiction and substance policy, posted on Twitter. “I’m eagerly anticipating the specifics!”
Late last year, Germany’s Federal Cabinet approved an initial framework for a legalization measure, but the government wanted EU approval to ensure that implementing the reform would not put them in violation of their international obligations.

Adults 18 and older would have been able to possess 20 to 30 grams of marijuana under that original framework, which they could have purchased from federally licensed stores and potentially pharmacies.

Marijuana would be subject to the country’s sales tax, as well as a “special consumption tax,” according to the proposal. Moreover, upon implementation, all ongoing criminal proceedings linked to offenses made lawful under the reform would be suspended and closed.

Lauterbach, Germany’s health minister, stated earlier this month that German officials had gotten “very good feedback” from the EU and would be revising the plan before formally introducing a bill in parliament.

Months of review and negotiations within the German administration and the country’s “traffic light” coalition government resulted in the structure. Last summer, officials made the first move toward legalization, launching a series of hearings to help inform legislation to end the country’s prohibition.

Meanwhile, a separate marijuana legalization measure introduced by progressive German lawmakers was given a public hearing earlier this month in the Bundestag Health Committee. The sponsors stated that the law is required to hasten the end of prohibition. While no vote was conducted, it is expected that the body will reject the alternative proposal in order to await the outcome of the government’s new proposal.

Under a 1961 treaty to which countries such as Germany and the United States are parties, the United Nations (UN) has made it clear that member nations cannot go beyond medicinal cannabis or simple decriminalization.

The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) recently issued an annual report that took the position a step further, claiming that the federal government of the United States is violating the treaty by refusing to enforce prohibition at the state level, claiming that the federalist system outlined in the Constitution does not exempt the country from its treaty obligations.

Last year, a delegation of German lawmakers, led by Narcotics and Drugs Commissioner Burkhard Blienert, visited California and toured cannabis companies to inform their country’s approach to legalization. The visit occurred about two months after top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, and the Netherlands met for the first time to discuss recreational marijuana legalization plans and challenges. Coalition government leaders announced in 2021 that they had reached an agreement to end cannabis prohibition and implement rules for a legal industry, and they first previewed some details of that plan last year.

A groundbreaking international survey published in April showed widespread support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

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