Germany’s Ministry of Health has published its draft law for the first phase of cannabis legalisation, with the hopes it will be passed by the end of 2023. Here’s our key takeaways.
After months of speculation, and a few stumbling blocks, German officials have released a draft bill setting out the first pillar of their plans to reform its policy on adult-use cannabis.
If approved, the bill will see cannabis removed from the Narcotics Act and regulated under the newly-proposed Cannabis Act (CanG)
Pillar 1 of the Cannabis Act intends to legalise the ‘private cultivation of cannabis by adults for their own consumption’, as well as ‘communal, non-commercial cultivation’ of cannabis through associations.
In what some have described as an ‘optimistic’ timeline, ministers are hoping to gain approval from the cabinet during the summer break, with a view to introducing the law by the end of the year.
The German government first announced its intention to end the prohibition of cannabis in October 2022, with proposals for the roll-out of a fully-regulated market.
However, after meeting with the European Commission (EC) at the end of last year, the ministers were forced to scale-back plans citing challenges with the EU and international legal framework, deciding on a two-stage approach instead.
The bill for Pillar 2, which is expected to follow later this year and will be submitted to the EC for review, will see the introduction of regional pilot projects with commercial supply chains.
In a corresponding Q&A, published alongside the Pillar 1 bill on Thursday 6 July, the government says its current drug policy on cannabis was ‘reaching its limits’.
The new law aims to improve ‘health protection, strengthen cannabis-related education and prevention, curb organised drug crime and strengthen child and youth protection’.
Measures for self-cultivation and cannabis associations
A number of measures have been set out placing restrictions on self-cultivation and the operation of cannabis associations in order to ensure ‘consumer health protection’.
- Limiting home cultivation to three plants per adult,
- Limiting legal cannabis possession to 25g per adult.
- Prohibiting the use of cannabis for anyone under the age of 18.
- Limiting the amounts of cannabis which can be passed on to members in associations to 25g per day or 50g per month and 7 seeds or 5 cuttings per month.
- Adolescents up to the age of 21 may receive a maximum of 30g per month with a limited THC content of 10 percent.
- When passing on cannabis, seeds and cuttings, cultivation associations must provide ‘evidence-based information about cannabis’, including dosage, risks and information on advice and treatment centres.
- Cannabis produced by private cultivation may not be passed onto third parties.
- Limiting the use of cannabis in public, including no consumption in the ‘immediate vicinity’ of people under the age of 18, within 200m of schools, children’s and youth facilities, playgrounds and in publicly accessible sports facilities, or in pedestrian zones between 7am-8pm.
- No consumption in cultivation associations or within a distance of up to 200m from the entrance.
- A ban on advertising and sponsorship for cannabis and growers’ associations.
- State governments have the power to limit the number of cultivation associations to one per 6,000 inhabitants per district or urban district.
- The Federal Non-Smoking Act will also extend to cannabis products which are smoked or vaporised.
Health and consumer protection
As part of the plans, a national education platform will be set up to provide ‘uniform information’ on the law and advice on safety, potential effects and risks of cannabis use, as well as prevention and treatment.
Additional measures are expected to be introduced to ensure the protection of children and young people, for example all associations must present a health and youth protection concept and appoint a prevention officer, with compliance expected to be ‘continuously monitored’ by authorities.
The government will also be expanding early intervention and prevention programmes for young people found in possession of cannabis.
The laws around the prescription of medicinal cannabis in Germany will remain ‘essentially unchanged’.
However, the removal of cannabis from the Narcotics Act will mean that in the future, it will no longer be necessary for patients to obtain a special narcotic prescription for their medication (this can be done by regular prescription) – a change which could potentially increase patient access and have positive repercussions for the medical cannabis industry.
Laws around cannabis and driving
With cannabis laws on the horizon, the current restrictions on driving and THC limits have been a key concern for many consumers in Germany.
The draft bill confirms that The Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport will ‘scientifically examine and determine the limit values for THC’ for motor vehicles driving on public roads, with a view to a possible change in the Road Traffic Act. The current specifications will apply until further regulations are published.
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