Cannabis legalization efforts in Germany received a huge boost yesterday, with the nation’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) making a formal presentation to the federal cabinet regarding the most up-to-date plan for a German adult-use cannabis legalization measure. The presentation was truly historic, in part due to the fact that it happened in the first place, and also in part due to what was included in the plan itself.
As we previously reported, points from the plan were leaked last week, including some points that yielded significant pushback from the public and even some lawmakers. Many felt that some of the provisions, especially provisions involving THC percentage limits, were too restrictive. Fortunately, the plan that was presented yesterday by Health Minister Lauterbach addressed many of the components that were largely the focus of negative feedback.
One provision of the current legalization plan in Germany will no doubt prove to be extremely significant if/when it is implemented. Point 5 on page 4 of the Eckpunktepapier contains a key sentence, “Genusscannabis, Medizinalcannabis und Nutzhanf werden vollständig aus dem Anwendungsbereich des BtMG ausgenommen und die jeweiligen rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen werden in einem gesonderten Gesetz festgelegt.”
That sentence can be translated to English as, “Recreational cannabis, medical cannabis and hemp will be completely removed from the domain of the narcotics law (BtmG) and the individual legal frameworks will be determined in a separate law.”
Minister Lauterbach was specifically asked about this provision of the plan during his presentation to the federal cabinet, as described below:
Obviously, removing cannabis from Germany’s narcotics law would have enormous ramifications, and would affect nearly every aspect of cannabis policy, industry, and research. The benefits of removing cannabis from Germany’s narcotics law would not only benefit adult-use cannabis efforts; it would also benefit the nation’s emerging medical cannabis patients, program, and industry.
“Regulating cannabis not as a narcotic anymore has extremely positive implications particularly for medical use. This step opens the door to electronic cannabis prescriptions and immediate transfer to the pharmacy which can then ship the medication to patients. We are already preparing for a fully digital pathway for patients with 24h between video consultation and cannabis medication delivered to your doorstep.” stated Dr. med. Julian Wichmann, Geschäftsführer/CEO of Algea Care. Algea Care is Germany’s leading platform for therapy with medical cannabis.
“We also expect the conditions for cannabis research to be drastically improved. It will probably also be much easier for academic institutions to obtain national or EU-provided funds for specific research projects, as there will be a rapidly increasing demand for research on both medical and recreational cannabis intake.” Dr. Wichmann went on to say.
How countries have historically classified cannabis, including Germany, has created tremendous hurdles for cannabis research and the emerging cannabis industry. That, in turn, makes it extremely tough for patients who are at the mercy of what conditions qualify for medical cannabis and what safe access options they have in their area. Unfortunately, due to limitations in research many patients are left on the outside looking in. Removing cannabis from Germany’s narcotics law would provide a compassionate boost to suffering patients all over the country and increase safe access.
“Our goal is to make medical cannabis treatment as accessible and seamless for anyone with a medical condition suitable for treatment. Deregulation away from narcotics can facilitate that. Research from the U.S. shows that up to 40% of recreational customers are actually trying to mitigate symptoms but often don’t achieve the results they’re hoping for. The different tax treatment may potentially lead to a situation in which medical cannabis is cheaper than at recreational stores and accessible with a better digital journey.” described Dr. Wichmann.
The discussion regarding cannabis’ classification status is not limited to Germany. The United States is currently ‘examining’ the classification status of cannabis at the federal level, per a recent directive from U.S. President Joe Biden. However, unlike Germany, the discussion in the United States involves whether cannabis should be descheduled or rescheduled. Germany’s plan seems to have already landed at descheduling, or as it was more properly described by reporter Alfredo Pascual’s tweet embedded above, cannabis is ‘to be removed from the narcotics law,’ which is effectively the same as descheduling.
The significance of what is being proposed in Germany cannot be overstated. In addition to the expressed desire to remove cannabis from Germany’s narcotics law, it is a welcomed sight to see that home cultivation was not only included in the plan presented yesterday, but also that the home cultivation plant limit was raised from 2 plants that was part of the leaked points last week, up to 3 plants this week.
For perspective, Washington State in the U.S. still prohibits home cultivation for adult-use purposes despite having passed a legalization measure back in 2012. Illinois and New Jersey also prohibit adult-use home cultivation despite having also passed legalization measures. And all the while cannabis remains prohibited at the federal level in the U.S. With all of that in mind, the sensible proposal in Germany is great news for consumers, patients, researchers, taxpayers, entrepreneurs, investors, and just about everyone else in German society, whether they consume cannabis or not.