Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Hanflabyrinth in Berlin, 2009

Cannabis in Germany has been legal for recreational usage by adults (aged 18 and over[1]) in a limited capacity since 1 April 2024. As of February 2024, it has been assessed that 4.5 million Germans use cannabis.[2]

Since 1 April 2024, it has been legal for adults in Germany to possess 25 grams or less of cannabis in public, up to 50 grams of dried cannabis in private and have up to three cannabis plants at home.[3] Adult only non-profit cannabis social clubs are due to be legalised in Germany on 1 July 2024. However, legal licensed sales (i.e. sales of cannabis in stores or online and cannabis businesses) will not be permitted, a decision that has received criticism.[4] For foreigners and tourists, it is not possible to legally purchase cannabis. Membership in the clubs is heavily regulated, and residency in the region is a prerequisite. The biggest issue regarding legalisation has been EU law, which has led to the initiative being divided into several stages. The next step includes plans for commercial sales.[5]

Medical cannabis[edit]

Dronabinol was rescheduled in 1994 from annex I to annex II of the Narcotics Law (Betäubungsmittelgesetz) in order to ease research; in 1998 dronabinol was rescheduled from annex II to annex III and since then has been available by prescription.[6] whereas Δ9-THC is still listed in annex I.[7] Manufacturing instructions for dronabinol containing compendial formulations are described in the Neues Rezeptur-Formularium.[8]

Although Δ9-THC is still listed in annex I,[7] in a few cases, patients have been able to obtain from the federal drug authority a special permit to import natural cannabis through a pharmacy. Manufacturing instructions for dronabinol containing compendial formulations are described in the Neues Rezeptur-Formularium.[8]

In February 2008, seven German patients were legally being treated with medicinal cannabis, distributed by prescription in pharmacies.[9]

On 4 May 2016, the Cabinet of Germany approved legislation allowing the use of cannabis for seriously ill patients who have consulted with a doctor and "have no therapeutic alternative". German Health Minister Hermann Gröhe presented the legal draft on the legalisation of medical cannabis to the cabinet which took effect on 10 March 2017. Licenses will be given by "Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices" to companies for growing medical cannabis[10][11][12][13][14] and import[15] according to strict EU-GMP standards. As of March 2017, the seriously ill can obtain cannabis with a doctor's prescription, paid for by health insurance.[16]

Enforcement[edit]

Cannabis legalisation booth in Munich, 2014

The German narcotics law (Betäubungsmittelgesetz) states that authorities are not required to prosecute for the possession of a "minor amount" of any narcotic drug meant for personal consumption, except in cases "of public interest", i.e. consumption in public, in front of minors or within a public school or a state prison.[17] The definition of "minor amount" varies, from up to 6 grams (0.21 oz) of cannabis in most states to 15 grams (0.53 oz) in Berlin.[18]

Under German law, the consumption itself of narcotics is not illegal: legally speaking, it is considered as non-punishable self-harm. Legal commentaries recognise that it is possible to consume drugs without having bought them first, in a legal sense. This has the practical effect that a positive drug test does not necessarily mean that one has illegally purchased them.[19]

Hemp Parade[edit]

Stencil graffiti in Aachen

The Hanfparade (English: Hemp Parade) is a hemp legalisation demonstration in Berlin.[20] It has taken place annually since 1997.[21]

Global Marijuana March[edit]

Global Marijuana March, Düsseldorf, 2016

The Global Marijuana March has taken place in Germany since 2000 and has been coordinated since 2011 by the Deutscher Hanfverband (German Hemp Association).[22]

Protests[edit]

The protest group "Who Are We Hurting?" led by Alec "Craze" Zammitt & Will Stolk brought their protest efforts to Berlin, Germany in July 2023, one month prior to Germany announcing the legalisation of Cannabis. The group distributed 100s of fake cannabis plant props throughout Berlin,[23][24][25][26] mimicking their prior Australian 420 protest in 2018.[27][28][29]

Hemp museum[edit]

The Hanfmuseum was established in Berlin in 1994.[30]

Hemp food[edit]

Non-psychoactive foods made with hemp seeds (less than 0.2% THC) are very common in German health food shops such as Reformhaus. Since the late 2010s, Hemp foods and drinks have become widely available in all types of stores including supermarkets,[31] and health food shops and drug stores like dm[32]and Rossmann[33] have begun selling various CBD products, sometimes including THC-free cannabis.[34]

Politics[edit]

Hanfparade Berlin, 2019

The Greens, The Left, and the Free Democratic Party wanted the government to legalise the regulation of cannabis for private consumption. They said that this would help protect adult consumers from buying cannabis laced with other harmful chemicals. They also said that buying cannabis on the black market stigmatised ordinary citizens, preventing them from seeking help if they need it and increasing the chance that they will buy harder drugs. Cannabis shops would eliminate this risk and prevent minors from buying the drug with the implementation of legal minimum age checks for purchase.[35]

2021 German federal election[edit]

In the coalition talks between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP that followed the federal election in 2021, the proposal arose within the framework of a government that was to be formed to release cannabis for legal distribution to adults and to sell it in licensed specialist shops in the future.[36][37][38][39][40][41]

After the 2021 German federal election, the resulting coalition announced in their coalition agreement that they planned to legalise cannabis for recreational purposes.[42] A study conducted by the University of Düsseldorf in 2021 reported that legalising cannabis with a regulated market could raise more than 4.7 billion in additional revenue in Germany and create approximately 27,000 jobs.[43]

2022 German cannabis legalisation framework[edit]

In January 2022, Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann stated that the ministry was drafting cannabis regulations, but the date of legalisation would be up to the Federal Ministry of Health.[42] A 2022 German cannabis legalisation framework was introduced in October. The German health minister wants to make it legal for adults to purchase and own up to 30g (1 oz) of cannabis for recreational use and to privately grow up to three plants.[44] Additionally, according to the plans, Cannabis Social Clubs with up to 500 members, may cultivate marijuana jointly for recreational use and sell it to members only for personal use.[45] The draft bill was circulated on 28 April.[46] In an interview published on 6 August 2023, Michael P. Seiter, Chief Advisor from the Bundestag, opined, "I currently suspect it will come soon, within the next 5–12 months. Chance – about 90%."[47] According to an agreement, the legalization of cannabis possession and cultivation could take effect on 1 April 2024, with 50 grams of dried cannabis allowed for home cultivation.[48] Some anticipate that this could lead to a tipping point for the entire EU.[49]

2023 efforts towards legalisation[edit]

In September 2023 the German Federal Council officially commented on the plans of the German federal government to legalise cannabis for the first time and outlined the draft Cannabis Act (known in German as Cannabisgesetz or “CanG”) The Cannabis act would remove cannabis from the Narcotics Act (known in German as Betäubungsmittelgesetz).[50] In October, Minister Karl Lauterbach promised the act would come into force by December 31, 2023.[51] Other voices from the Bundestag, such as Michael P. Seiter, were more skeptical and predicted that it would take a few months longer, but the law would become a bit more liberal than currently planned.[52] Ultimately, both of these predictions came true. For adults, possession of 25 grams of dried product and private cultivation of a maximum of three plants would be permitted.[53] The act would allow for non-commercial self cultivation of cannabis to be done in cultivation associations.[50]

2024 legalisation[edit]

On 23 February 2024, the Bundestag (German parliament) ratified the new Cannabis Act (with 407 members voting for the new law and 226 against it, with four abstentions).[54][55] On 22 March, the act was passed in the Bundesrat.[56] The German governing coalition (consisting of the Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats), as well as the opposition Left Party, voted in favor of the legislation.[57] The opposition CDU/CSU and Alternative for Germany (AfD) voted against the legislation.[58]

The Cannabis Act partially legalised the possession and cultivation of cannabis for recreational consumption by adults (aged 18 and above) in Germany.[54][59] Possession of up to 25 grams (0.88 oz) allowed in public and up to 50 grams (1.8 oz) of dried cannabis in private (at home) was made legal.[59] However, those aged from 18 to 21 are restricted under the law to a maximum purchase limit of 30 grams of cannabis.[59] Adults are allowed to have up to three cannabis plants at home.[1] From 1 July 2024, it will be legal for adult residents of Germany to form and join non-profit cannabis social clubs, with each club's membership restricted to a maximum of 500 persons.[60] Members of the club are allowed to purchase up to 50 grams each month. However, consuming on the club premises is prohibited.

Consumption of cannabis within 100 m of certain areas[58] (including schools, kindergartens, public playgrounds, sports facilities and "pedestrian zones in city centers" between 07:00 and 20:00) is prohibited.[60][3] The Act came into force on 1 April 2024.[61]

It has been questioned to what degree the legislation will affect illicit traffic of cannabis in Germany – as commercial sale of cannabis will remain prohibited, those who do not wish to grow their own plants or join a social club would probably continue to resort to procuring cannabis from illegal dealers.[2]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]