Germany To Introduce Bill To Legalize Cannabis In The Coming Weeks
March 16, 2023 - Forbes
Germany's plan to legalize cannabis has received positive feedback from the European Union, according to Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who announced that a bill for the legalization of cannabis would be introduced in the coming weeks.
Germany is moving forward with its plan to legalize cannabis for recreational use, aiming to become the first European country to regulate the sale of cannabis products.
But while supranational legal frameworks may pose obstacles to legalization, Lauterbach has received positive feedback from the EU, highlighting that the legislation must comply with EU regulations.
Lauterbach has expressed confidence that his plans to legalize cannabis will be approved by the EU. Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, March 14, before a meeting with his EU counterparts, Lauterbach said he had received "very good feedback" from the European Commission. As he had concerns about whether legalization would comply with European law, Lauterbach had his project reviewed by the EU Commission.
In addition, Lauterbach announced that a bill regarding the cannabis legislation will be introduced "in the next few weeks."
"We will soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law," he said.
The minister was also optimistic that the proposal would reduce drug-related crime and make cannabis use safer.
"We will achieve these goals," he said.
The bill is likely to be based on the plan to legalize adult-use cannabis, which was approved in October, and on several hearings with experts and stakeholders that took place last year.
The initial plan proposes several restrictions on cannabis possession, including a limit of 30 grams for adults aged 18 and older. The plan also allows for the home cultivation of up to two plants and permits licensed stores and pharmacies to sell cannabis products. Additionally, marketing and advertising of these products will be prohibited, and dispensaries will be required to be located far away from schools and youth facilities. Furthermore, it would be mandatory that recreational cannabis sold in Germany must be grown and manufactured domestically.
However, one of the legal hurdles to regulating cannabis in Germany is represented by international and European laws, which prohibit the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.
Germany is currently awaiting approval from the European Commission, and Lauterbach explained that some changes would be made to the government's initial plan to conform with European regulations. However, he did not specify what those changes would be. He stated that the revisions would take into account what should or should not be notified.
Cannabis is addressed in the Schengen Convention of 1985 and the EU Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA at the European Union (EU) level, which requires member states to combat illicit drug trafficking. Germany's current drug policy is governed by the Narcotic Drug Act (BtMG), but changes to this framework may be necessary for cannabis regulation. If a member country violates the EU's regulations, the EU commission may initiate a formal procedure to demand corrective action. Failure to comply may result in financial sanctions, and the matter may ultimately be referred to the European Court through legal court proceedings.
Furthermore, Germany's plan to legalize cannabis would be incompatible with international treaties, including the 1961 Single Convention.
Therefore, the German coalition government is seeking to comply with European legislation while maintaining its own goals, including reducing crime and making cannabis use as safe as possible by protecting youth.
In fact, public health and the protection of the youth have been the foundation of the so-called Light Traffic coalition when it announced the aim to legalize cannabis after the general elections in late 2021.
However, some experts believe that imposing excessive restrictions on the legal market, such as banning advertising and marketing operations and capping THC levels, may not effectively curb the illegal market.
If Germany successfully overcomes the international and European legal hurdles and proceeds with the legalization of recreational cannabis, it is expected to come into full effect in 2024.