Karl Lauterbach, the SPD affiliated Minister of Health is signalling good news for the schedule of the legalization of recreational cannabis in Germany. What next?
Karl Lauterbach appears to be taking the mandate to pass some kind of cannabis reform this year in the German Bundestag seriously. So far, after the elections in the fall of 2021 creating a new coalition government with cannabis legalization as a reform plank, the government has delivered and more or less on schedule.
On Tuesday, the German press began reporting that Lauterbach announced from Brussels that he is “very confident” that the draft legalization legislation, which will be made public probably by the end of March, will also past muster at the EU Commission. Lauterbach also admitted that there had been some changes to the original whitepaper to keep the entire project both within European law and German government goals – namely to create a regulated market, stamp out the black one, and keep children from harm.
What Does This Mean?
It is impossible to read the tea leaves – but so far the government has been consistent, if not punctual on all developments.
The good news? There are only a couple of weeks to go before it will be possible to see the draft legislation. So far, the general consensus out of Berlin is that homegrow of three plants will be allowed, as will cannabis clubs. Dispensaries and pharmacies will be the initial points of retail, with online sales completely banned. Lastly, no imported cannabis will be allowed.
The “bad” news? There is obviously going to be a lag time of at least 12 months before legal sales will begin. There are still many question marks about costs of licensing fees, who will be eligible for the industry, and how it will all get administered (and through which government agencies including on a state level). While the Health Department may end up being responsible, it will also require a whole new licensing and administrative infrastructure to be set up on both the national and at least state level.
There are also a couple of large and pending questions about what this news will mean for anyone with a pending or even imposed BtMG violation for cannabis sales, possession and even home cultivation which also affects far more than patients. The legit CBD industry here is very much at a knife’s edge after the decision of a federal court here late last year about the sale of CBD flower even under 0.2%.
There are also lots of questions about taxation that loom, as well as the sustainability of a local industry that will absolutely compete with established names in the industry over the last decade. This development is indeed going to be interesting to watch. There are massive headwinds, including the cost of borrowing money, a cost of living crisis, and creating an economically sustainable model for an industry that has so far failed to find its footing for the long term.
Cannabis Legalization in Summer 2023 aus Deutschland?
Given the development of all things legislative on this topic so far, things have developed more or less on schedule and how they are anticipated before actually happening. This means that all things being more or less equal, Germany is on track to full and final cannabis legalization as of this summer.
That is excellent news for an industry that has endured at least a quarter of really bad developments. And it is also great news for both “old dogs” hoping to make a new start as well as a legion of eager hordes who have heard all about cannabis for a long time and will take this opportunity to experience the plant, if not the industry for the first time.