The German health minister Karl Lauterbach has announced that the bill for the country’s cannabis legalisation will be released “immediately after Easter”, according to media reports.
The draft law was originally expected to be released at the end of March 2023, with initial proposals expected to allow adults over the age of 18 to be permitted to possess up to 30g of cannabis and grow up to three plants at home. Plans were also expected to allow for a fully licenced adult-use retail market with shops and dispensaries being able to sell cannabis in person and online.
Due to the delay of the bill, reports this week suggested that Germany was struggling to win the approval of the European Union (EU). All member states of the EU agree to abide by the United Nations 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which would block the legalisation of anything other than the medical use of cannabis.
However, in his statement on Wednesday, Lauterbach said that the delay was “due to scheduling concerns” and illness, not due to legal friction with the EU, as many speculated.
Last week, German media reported that the new plan would be a two-part model, allowing limited cannabis sales in certain regions as part of a pilot program. This would allow officials to assess the impact of reform both in large cities and rural locations. Reports also suggested that the plans would focus on the decriminalisation of home growing, which in turn would open up the ability for consumers to form non-commercial cannabis clubs. A model which has proven hugely popular in Spain and is set to be adopted by Malta.
This report was cast into doubt after Lauterbach said on Wednesday that “legalisation is planned throughout Germany”, indicating that a full national and commercial plan for reform may still be the ruling coalition’s plan.
“We need Germany-wide legalisation because the black market can only be pushed back if quality-assured cannabis for recreational use can be traded in certified shops throughout Germany,” Kristine Lütke of the FDP told Zeit Online. “If you can only legally buy quality-assured cannabis in a few cities, the black market will survive.”
Earlier this year, Lauterbach suggested that he had received “very good feedback” from the EU on the proposed cannabis reform bill. Should plans get the green light, Germany would become the world’s largest legal cannabis market. A report by the Institute for Competition Economics (DICE) at the Dusseldorf Heinrich Heine University, found that a legalised cannabis market in Germany could add around 3.4 billion euros in tax revenue to the nation’s economy while saving around 1.3 billion euros in police and court costs.