The newly elected government in Germany has agreed on recreational cannabis legalization. Old Paradise friend and respected cannabis journalist, Green Born Identity, takes a look at what 2022 may hold for German cannabis legalization.
SPD, The Greens and FDP – named ‘Traffic Light Coalition’ on account of the party colours – will “introduce the controlled supply of cannabis to adults for consumption in licensed stores” – that’s what the coalition contract says.
It’s a historic decision the most populated EU state has made, cannabis-wise Germany courageously leads the way now.
However, the contract includes an important addendum: In four years, the government will review the new law to determine its social impact.
Which means it’s sort of probationary and might be overturned after four years if the government came to the conclusion that legalization brought more cons than pros.
How long will German cannabis legalization take?
Just as uncertain are numerous matters of detail. First of all, when will legalization take effect and when will Germans be able to legally buy psychoactive cannabis products in the stores? Regarding a multitude of other urgent tasks the new government has to cope with in times of the Corona pandemic, the legalization plan won’t be on the front burner, and it is doubtful that much is going to happen in the first months.
Shaping the law will be a complex process and the bill is yet to be approved at different legislative levels – passage through the Bundestag and Bundesrat. In Germany, it takes 175 days on the average until a legislative procedure has been completed and a new law becomes applicable.
What products will be allowed under German cannabis legalization?
In what kind of stores cannabis shall be sold is one of the aspects still to be clarified officially. SPD and FDP had aimed at pharmacies, but luckily it seems as if the Greens have won with their vision of specialized cannabis shops which may mean a totally new sort of shopping experience is on the horizon in Germany! But elaborating the licensing procedure required for this will take up time.
Also, it’s yet to be decided who shall produce and deliver the cannabis needed, and whether producers must get licensed as well.
However, home growers and private individuals shouldn’t get their hopes up as the government will probably assign this task to those companies that are already legally growing and supplying medical cannabis in Germany: Tilray and Aurora from Canada and German company Demecan. Demecan’s managing director Cornelius Maurer says, “we’re able to increase production on short notice and manufacture both medical and recreational cannabis.”
Still a moot point also, the new coalition hasn’t revealed yet what kind of cannabis products shall be sold in the stores – it’s very unlikely they are considering the whole range of goods such as weed, hashish, concentrates and edibles.
But even if it’s only going to be marijuana flower, it is feared there won’t be a wide variety of strains available, because promoting a multi-faceted cannabis connoisseur culture certainly is not what the coalition wants – at least not SPD and FPD.
What will cannabis legalization mean for the justice system in Germany?
It is also unknown whether the government might be looking at an amnesty for people with marijuana convictions. However, due to the probationary nature of the new law, this certainly won’t come into consideration.
Much more realistic, and badly needed, are changes in traffic law. The common German practice of confiscating the driving license of cannabis users not driving under the acute effect of the drug, but merely caught with THC-rich cannabis products in their car or tested positive for THC finally must come to an end! As it’s a most discriminating act of injustice – after all, unintoxicated drivers transporting a crate of beer in their car when stopped by the police don’t lose their driving license either.
What will German legalization mean for cannabis home growers?
German homegrowers are deeply disappointed by the fact that home cultivation won’t be legalized as the Greens failed to assert themselves against their coalition partners with their claim to allow the cultivation of up to four plants per household.
Fittingly, the ban on THC-rich cannabis seeds, introduced back in 1998, won’t be lifted.
That’s a shame, because legalizing home growing simply is a matter of justice: Given the soon to be legal status of THC-rich cannabis products, there’s no reason any longer to treat cannabis and the purchase of cannabis seeds differently than alcohol and tobacco – in Germany, for their own supply private individuals may brew certain amounts of beer and grow up to 99 tobacco plants.
On the road to legalization, the German government has to sail around another cliff, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 that forbids its member states such as Germany the legalization of recreational cannabis.
But although both Canada and Uruguay once had signed this convention, too, no sanctions have been imposed against these legalization countries by other nations. So Germany won’t be facing anything more than slight diplomatic implications either. Which it will rather endure than, consequently, resign from the convention.
By its announcement to legalize cannabis, the new German traffic light coalition has truly showed its colors. Many obstacles still have to be overcome though – German cannabis users will have to wait patiently for the historic “green day”.
It actually is a partial legalization only as cannabis won’t be crossed off the list of forbidden drugs and home cultivation and other cannabis-related offenses remain punishable. Nevertheless there’s hope that Germany’s ground-breaking reform will have a signalling effect for other European countries, igniting legalization dynamics in the whole EU that will eventually lead to a reform of common EU law.
Green Born Identity – G.B.I.