The push to legalize adult-use cannabis in Germany received a significant boost today, with reports surfacing that the nation’s health minister has received “very good feedback” from the European Commission regarding his plan to legalize cannabis for adult use in Germany and to launch regulated adult-use sales. Minister Karl Lauterbach reportedly stated that “in the next few weeks” his bill will be formally presented.
“We will soon present a proposal that works, that is, that conforms to European law,” Lauterbach stated according to NTV. Minister Lauterbach’s comments come after months of discussions with the European Union. Back in October 2022, Minister Lauterbach presented a legalization plan in Germany that included the following provisions:
Legal age of 18 years old
20-30 gram possession limit
Prohibition on advertising
No cap on THC percentages
Cultivate up to 3 plants per adult household
Remove cannabis from Germany’s Narcotics Law
As part of his formal presentation to German lawmakers back in October, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach stated that prior to formally introducing his measure he would first seek approval from the European Union to proceed. Minister Lauterbach has indicated throughout the lobbying process that the goal and focus of his efforts are to improve public health in Germany via regulating adult-use cannabis.
That approach, Minister Lauterbach has consistently argued, is in line with EU treaties. His recent comments seem to indicate that the EU agrees, at least in principle. This is not the first time that Minister Lauterbach has hinted that his conversations with the EU are favorable, although his level of optimism certainly seems to be increasing.
Back in January, we reported on comments that Minister Lautberbach made regarding his lobbying efforts, indicating at the time that he was ‘certain’ that the European Union would grant its approval and that a formal introduction of the legalization measure would occur ‘in the first quarter of this year.’ Minister Lauterbach added, according to the reporting at that time, that he had ‘no reason to doubt this schedule.’
For those that are keeping track at home, the first quarter of this year is set to draw to a close in roughly two weeks. With that in mind, it appears that Minister Lauterbach is essentially right on schedule, albeit perhaps one week behind what he projected back in January. If Minister Lauterbach is indeed on schedule, I think it is safe to assume that the EU has afforded some type of indication that it will approve German legalization to proceed. The ramifications of that cannot be overstated, as it would likely open the floodgates to similar reform in other European nations as we have pointed out in prior reporting.
The real question at this point, in my opinion, is what has changed from what Minister Lauterbach presented back in October compared to what he is planning on presenting in “the next few weeks?” If we read between the lines a bit and take Minister Lauterbach’s reported comments at face value, he has received some type of feedback from the EU. Until the public knows exactly what that feedback involves, there’s always the possibility that Minister Lauterbach’s plan may have regressed to some degree in certain aspects.
Regardless of the EU’s feedback, Minister Lauterbach still has to convince lawmakers in Germany that his plan is sufficient. The EU can provide all of the feedback that it wants to, however, that will be balanced against domestic political demands from Germany’s current governing coalition.
As history has clearly demonstrated, many lawmakers in Germany will not entertain regressed legalization components. They also will not tolerate any footdragging. As the pressure continues to build on both sides of the equation and Minister Lauterbach is stuck in the middle like a political pinball, the eyes of the international cannabis community will continue to be focused squarely on Germany.
Will we see another leak prior to Minister Lauterbach’s formal presentation, and components of the legalization plan ‘magically’ evolve to be more favorable after enormous public outcry, such as what occurred back in October 2022? Only time will tell.