What I would give to be a fly on the wall in the room where private cannabis policy discussions are being held between European Union (EU) leadership and Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. Health Minister Lauterbach has actively lobbied the European Union for its general approval of a German adult-use legalization plan ever since he presented a legalization proposal to the German federal cabinet back in late October. Various information has surfaced regarding legalization discussions with the EU in recent weeks, with the latest revelation involving Minister Lauterbach reportedly seeking an ‘expert opinion’ to help with the legalization push.
Health Minister Lauterbach presented a plan over a month ago that involves legalizing the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis in Germany, as well as legalizing the cultivation of up to three cannabis plants in adult households. The plan was an evolved version of a previously leaked plan, and more changes could occur between now and a formal introduction of an actual bill. Arguably the most consequential provision of the legalization plan that was presented in late October involves removing cannabis from Germany’s narcotics law. Minister Lauterbach has made it clear that he wants to obtain EU permission for the plan prior to it being formally introduced and considered by lawmakers.
What Will An ‘Expert Opinion’ Involve?
According to Zeit, Minister Lauterbach is bringing in an expert opinion to help make the case for legalization to the EU. “Confidential talks with the EU Commission show that “very good arguments” are needed to convince them of the path they have taken,” stated Minister Lauterbach according to reporting from Zeit. From what I can tell, no announcement has been made regarding who will be providing the expert opinion or what it will include.
“We need good arguments when it comes to cannabis: We commission an expert opinion, develop a draft law at the same time and have it examined by the EU. This should show how we ensure quality, limit consumption & protect children. I am convinced of it.” Minister Lauterbach stated earlier this week regarding the latest wrinkle in the ongoing German legalization saga.
Logically speaking, one of two things is going on right now. Either the EU truly wants to learn more about Germany’s legalization plan, at which point help with crafting additional “very good arguments” via an expert or experts would be helpful. Or, of course, the other possibility is that the EU is trying to drag its feet and slow down the process by seeking ‘more information’ knowing that any amount of information will not change the EU’s opinion. Being that the EU hasn’t weighed in either way for better or worse, all we can do is sit and wait, although I do think that it’s worth asking an obvious question – what arguments can be made to the EU that haven’t already been made regarding the harms of cannabis prohibition and the benefits of legalization and regulation?
Calls To Speed Up The Timeline
Coupled with Minister Lauterbach’s announcement that he is seeking assistance in crafting arguments for the EU was a reiteration that the formal introduction of a legalization measure will not happen by the end of the year. Rather, a formalized draft of the law should be ready for private circulation by the end of the first quarter of 2023, and ‘if things go well’ and the EU blesses the effort, the formalized measure will be introduced in the second half of 2023. That timeline is sure to disappoint many legalization supporters, including supporters that are members of the Bundestag.
“Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach must now draw up a draft law for #Legalisierung from #Cannabis and present it promptly – waiting for #EU and remaining inactive is not an option! As the rapporteurs responsible, we are making that clear once again today.” previously stated Kirsten Kappert-Gonther (Greens) on Twitter (translated from German to English). Kirsten Kappert-Gonther was joined in her call for urgency by Kristine Lütke MdB (FDP).
“Minister of Health @Karl_Lauterbach must not remain idle until the #EU commission has given its feedback! He must submit a #Gesetzentwurf for #Cannabis legalization by the end of the year – so that the controlled release is implemented quickly and does not come until the end of 2023!” stated Kristine Lütke MdB previously on Twitter (translated from German to English).