Germany’s next ruling coalition is reportedly in final-stage talks on a deal that will see recreational use of cannabis legalised in the country. According to a report by Bloomberg, the Social Democrats, Greens, and the Free Democrats are in negotiations to allow residents of the country with Europe’s largest economy to use cannabis recreationally, subject to conditions.
The negotiations around cannabis form part of larger discussions that will end with the formation of a new government, which the parties involved hope will happen on 6th December. The so-called traffic light coalition has been in talks since 27th October, after the German people elected a new Bundestag on 26th September in a nationwide election that takes place every 4 years. The Bundestag is similar to the UK’s House of Commons.
All three of the parties expected to form the next ruling coalition campaigned for some form of reformed cannabis laws in the run-up to the election. The ongoing talks, with heavy pressure mounted by the youth wings of all three parties, will determine if reform shakes out as decriminalisation or full-on legalisation.
Cannabis is currently illegal to possess and to sell in Germany, however it is the most used drug in the country. According to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), 19.5% of young adults between 15 and 24 years of age consumed cannabis at least once in 2019. Possession of cannabis usually lands the person caught with a small fine, but the case is often dismissed on the grounds that the amount is too small. In some serious cases, the sentence can be up to five years in prison.
Not everybody is happy at the prospect of relaxing Germany’s cannabis laws however. Oliver Malchow, head of the German Police Union (GdP) recently told Euronews, “Criminal law has a preventative effect. When we outlaw something, it reflects our values… Just because people do it anyway doesn’t mean we should end the prohibition.”
Support for cannabis is at an all-time high in the country, according to a recent poll by the German hemp association, Hanfverbad. Each year they survey the public if they tend to agree or disagree with the statement “Cannabis should be available legally and regulated for adults, for example through specialist shops such as in Canada or the USA.”
In the lastest results 49 percent of people responded “tend to agree” with this statement, 46 percent “tend not to agree”. 5 percent abstained. Supporters of the Greens expressed the strongest support with the statement.
Hanfverbad sees this result as a strong indicator for reform and as a signal to the traffic light parties to forego model projects for the sale of cannabis and to move directly to legalisation. Spokesman Georg Wurth said “After 25 years of working to legalize cannabis, it was a very special moment for me to open the file and see the result. The German Hemp Association is now mainstream, who would have thought that!”