Cannabis: How and when will legalization come in Germany?

Cannabis: Wie und wann kommt die Legalisierung in Deutschland?

The limited legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes is a key issue for the traffic light coalition in Berlin, but it is very controversial. The Bundestag has now approved the draft law. The law was supposed to come into force at the beginning of the new year (2024), but there were discussions and postponements. The governing parties have now agreed on the final details . The law stipulates that consumers will be able to purchase cannabis from non-commercial cultivation associations in the future. Community cultivation should be possible from July 2024 . Possession and consumption of cannabis will be exempt from punishment for adults from April 2024 under certain conditions. Commercial sales of cannabis are not yet planned in the first step of legalization. What does it all mean?

The legalization of cannabis planned for 2024 will go down in the history books:

Here are the most important questions and answers:

Own use and own production: Which regulations should apply?

  • Possession of cannabis will go unpunished in some cases, meaning adults will in future be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for their own use .
  • With regard to home cultivation , up to 50 grams and a maximum of three flowering female plants per adult will be permitted.
  • Only possession of 30 grams or more in public spaces and 60 grams or more in private spaces will be punishable . However, if these possession limits are exceeded, immense fines of up to 30,000 euros can be imposed.

"The legalization of marijuana is not a dangerous experiment - prohibition is the experiment and it has failed dramatically, with millions of victims around the world."
-Sebastian Marincolo

Selling Cannabis: Where can consumers legally purchase cannabis?

Production and distribution will initially be made possible through non-profit cultivation organizations or cannabis associations , such as those already approved in some areas of Spain and Malta.

  • These organizations are allowed to provide their members with up to 25 grams of cannabis per day , but no more than 50 grams per month . In addition, they may provide their members with a maximum of seven seeds or five cuttings per month for their own cultivation.
  • Membership is possible from the age of 18 and a maximum of 500 members are permitted per club .
  • If members are under 21 years old, they will not receive more than 30 grams per month and the cannabis must not exceed a THC content of ten percent.
  • The associations are obliged to appoint representatives for the protection of young people and addiction prevention and are not allowed to carry out any advertising activities .
  • In addition, they must maintain a minimum distance of 200 meters from schools and other facilities for children and young people as well as playgrounds.
  • It is not permitted to be a member of several clubs at the same time.
  • The consumption of cannabis is prohibited in the relevant local cultivation clubs.

The black market should be pushed back: Do taxes have to be paid when purchasing?

Yes, under the proposed plan both VAT and a special "cannabis tax" would be payable on cannabis products.

According to the draft law, what rules should apply to people under 18?

The purchase, possession and cultivation of cannabis is still prohibited for minors , but they will not be prosecuted for doing so. Minors who use cannabis should be offered the opportunity to participate in intervention and prevention programs. Giving cannabis to anyone under the age of 18 remains a criminal offence.
To ensure the protection of minors, some penalties will be increased, such as those for persons over 21 years of age who encourage or assist minors in the cultivation or purchase of cannabis. They can expect a prison sentence of up to five years , or even at least two years if cannabis is sold commercially to minors.

Will smoking weed be allowed in public in the future?

Cannabis may not be consumed within 100 meters of schools, daycare centers, playgrounds and public sports facilities . The draft law also stipulates that smoking marijuana is prohibited in pedestrian zones between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Otherwise, consumption in public spaces is permitted.

Road rules: What is the penalty for driving under the influence of cannabis?

By the end of March 2024, the Federal Ministry of Transport is expected to propose a limit for the active ingredient in cannabis, THC, similar to the current regulation for the 0.5 per mille alcohol limit. It is currently strictly forbidden to drive a car or motorcycle while under the influence of cannabis. If you violate this rule, you face a fine of at least 500 euros , a driving ban for several months , two points in the central traffic register in Flensburg and - in the worst case - the revocation of your driving license .

Is commercial trading planned?

In the second phase of the planned legalization of cannabis in Germany, sales will take place in licensed and commercial retail chains in municipalities in various federal states. This should cover the entire chain from production to sales in specialized stores . It is still unclear which regions will be selected as test regions. A number of cities, such as Berlin, Bremen and Schwerin, have already expressed their interest. However, Bavaria is clearly against the plans - there is concern that it could lead to drug tourism. The projects should be scientifically supported and carried out for a limited period of five years and should only be limited to the residents of the respective municipality. According to the Federal Government, this second step of the planned legalization should take place in consultation with the EU. The timing is still pending.

Can old offenses be repealed once the law comes into force?

Yes, legalization in Germany will allow previous punishments for the possession or individual cultivation of up to a maximum of 25 grams of cannabis or a maximum of three plants to be removed from the Federal Central Register upon request. In addition, all related ongoing penalties and investigations will be discontinued.

Why is the government aiming for cannabis legalization?

Policymakers are seeking to change the law to minimize unregulated trade and consumption on the black market, and thus criminal activity. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach also wants to improve the protection of young people - "the previous control measures have failed," said Lauterbach.

Cannabis legalization in Germany: What are the counterarguments?

The justice system expressed concerns, among other things, that the law was "too detailed", which would lead to an additional burden on the judiciary as there could be a large number of court cases. The police union (GdP) also fears that the federal government's cannabis strategy could represent a significant additional burden. Medical associations for children and adolescents warn of possible health risks for young people. They believe that their mental health and development opportunities could be threatened by partial legalization. Some critics have also questioned whether releasing cannabis will actually make it possible to curb the problem of drug crime and the black market or prevent the transition to stronger drugs.

From a medical perspective: What concerns exist about legalization?

The professional association of pediatricians sees partial approval for people under 25 as problematic because the human brain is only fully developed at around this age. Regular use of cannabis can permanently impair brain development , says association leader Thomas Fischbach. The World Drug Report shows a link between increased cannabis use and an increase in mental health disorders, which is attributed to the increasing global legalization of cannabis. Responsible consumption is required.

Cannabis topic: What’s behind it?

Cannabis is the Latin name for the hemp plant , which has been used as a raw material since ancient times. The female specimens of this plant can be used to make various stimulants - including marijuana from dried plant parts (usually flowers), hashish and hashish oil, which are obtained from the extracted resin of the female flowers. The psychoactive effects of these substances are due to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

What is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)?

THC is the euphoric substance in the female cannabis plant . It affects the central nervous system. In low doses it can produce feelings of euphoria, loss of anxiety, sedation and sleepiness and is often equated with the effects of alcohol. THC also has the ability to relieve nausea and vomiting. The effects are explained by the plant THC disrupting the body's natural cannabis receptors. The human body has a built-in cannabis system (endocannabinoids), which is part of the nervous system and influences many physical functions.

How is cannabis already used in medicine?

Since 2017, the use of cannabis for medical purposes has been permitted in justified individual cases. Cannabis medications, which are available on prescription, are primarily used to treat pain . The active ingredient content and composition are checked regularly. The existing regulations for medical cannabis should remain largely unchanged after the new law is passed.

How risky is consuming cannabis?

Long-term use of cannabis is linked to mental, social and physical risks, experts say. However, based on current information, it is believed that it does not cause serious brain damage such as that caused by alcohol. However, various studies indicate a connection between regular cannabis use and psychoses; in particular, the risk increases significantly with highly potent cannabis (THC content over 10%). The theory that cannabis acts as a “gateway drug” has been hotly debated for a long time. However, according to the German Addiction Services (DHS), only a small percentage of cannabis users switch to harder drugs in the long term.

What applies so far?

In contrast to legalized addictive substances such as alcohol and tobacco, cannabis is currently treated as an illegal substance in Germany (as of 2023), which, along with narcotics such as heroin and MDMA ("Ecstasy"), falls under the Narcotics Act (BtMG). Therefore, the possession of any cannabis and cannabis products (hashish, marijuana) is currently still punishable under criminal law . If a small amount is intended for personal consumption, the public prosecutor can refrain from criminal prosecution. However, the definition of a small amount varies depending on the federal state and can go up to a certain amount.

Cannabis banned? These are the legal regulations in Europe:

The Schengen Protocol stipulates that every EU country must criminalize the illegal trade and export of addictive and psychotropic substances of all kinds. An exception clause only exists for private use. An example of this is the Netherlands, which has been operating so-called coffee shops for many years, in which sales for personal use are only tolerated. The Czech Republic is also planning a far-reaching step towards legalizing cannabis for personal consumption by 2025.

1. When will cannabis be legalized in Germany ?

There are signs that cannabis will be legalized in the Federal Republic, but an exact date has not yet been set. However, initial voices in the federal government and in various federal states say that legalization from the beginning of 2024 is quite realistic.

2. What maximum amounts of cannabis are allowed after legalization?

According to current discussions, a maximum amount of 50 grams per month could be introduced. Some suggestions say a maximum daily amount of 25 grams of cannabis could be allowed. However, these are only preliminary plans; the final legislation could set other quantity limits.

3. Would growing cannabis also be legal?

Growing cannabis for personal use could also be permitted with legalization. Corresponding suggestions are already appearing in the discussions about legalization. There are 3 female plants per person in the room.

4. Can the driving license revocation be reversed ?

A driver's license suspension will not automatically be reversed just because cannabis has been legalized. Re-issuing a driving license usually requires a new test, proof of fitness to drive and possibly a medical-psychological examination (MPU). It is advisable to contact the relevant authority in advance.

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