CONFIRMED: German Cannabis Legalisation Plans

After speculative plans were leaked last month, we now have the first concrete details about the proposed German recreational cannabis legalisation model.

by Megan Townsend

As we previously reported, Germany’s plans to legalise cannabis were leaked on 19th October.

Key details from the unofficial documents and early-stage German proposals leaked to the press included: 

  • A maximum threshold for possession of 20g. 
  • An allowance for home-growing of up to 2 plants. 
  • A mixture of outlets to purchase from, including retail from licensed stores, pharmacies & online options.
  • A maximum 15% THC limit, with a lesser limit of 10% for those aged 18-21yrs.
  • A total advertising ban.
  • Introduction of cigarette style non-branded packaging.
  • A graduated tax based on the THC level.
  • No imports of cannabis allowed – must all be grown in Germany
  • Under 18s caught in possession of cannabis will not be criminalised (cannabis will be confiscated and courses mandated)
  • Location of cannabis dispensaries to be regulated, with minimum distances to schools, children’s and youth facilities.

The Federal Cabinet has since met and decided on the key points of the law, presenting them in a cornerstone paper at a federal press conference on 26th October

There are a few noticeable differences from the original leaked plans.

  • A maximum threshold for possession of 30g.
  • An allowance for home-growing of up to 3 plants.
  • removed the upper THC limit from the plans

The maximum threshold for possession has been raised from 20g to 30g, which has definitely received a positive reception from the German people. Alongside this, “own-cultivation” is to be treated more leniently, with an individual now allowed three, rather than two, female flowering plants. 

These restrictions are still relatively strict when compared with other countries who have legalised cannabis. For example, in Canada and Malta the growing of 4 plants is allowed, whereas in Uruguay the limit is 6. 

Perhaps the most controversial element of the leaked plans was the 15% upper limit on THC content. A number of individuals highlighted that the limit was too low to compete with the strength of cannabis available via the illicit market, and therefore this would not be enough to achieve Germany’s plans of reducing supply through this stream.

It seems clear that the German government has picked up on this criticism as the cornerstone paper has removed the upper THC limit from the plans. However, this will not be the case across the board. Due to evidence which suggests a link between cannabis use in adolescence and an increased risk of brain damage, the German government is considering an upper limit on THC content available to adults up to the age of 21.

The cornerstone paper also outlined plans to introduce a graduated tax on products based on THC content alongside a sales tax, which is hoped will bring prices in line with the black market. 

Plans for a total ban on the advertising of cannabis products remain in place, as well as a requirement for plain packaging and purchasing through only licensed shops and pharmacies. Therefore it is clear that Germany’s public-health stance remains a priority. 

German Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has appeared optimistic about the official plans, and hopes to present a draft law to the European Commission in the first quarter of next year. Providing the plans are successful, legalisation can be expected in 2024, with the regulations to be evaluated and adjusted if necessary after 4 years.

This piece was written by Volteface Intern Megan Townsend. Megan is a current MA Criminology student at Birmingham City University. Tweets @megant2799.

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