As the month of October draws to a close it is safe to say that it was one of the most eventful months for cannabis policy in Germany’s history. Unless you have been living under a rock without WIFI, then you are obviously aware that Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach made a formal cannabis legalization presentation to the federal cabinet last week. The presentation came a week after points of a prior version of the legalization plan were leaked to the public, with the leaked version resulting in various levels of pushback from the public and some lawmakers.
Multiple components of the legalization plan were improved upon as October progressed, including the apparent scrapping of THC percentage limits for products sold to people 21 and older, as well as a 50% increase in home cultivation limits (from 2 plants to 3 plants). As we previously pointed out, the current legalization plan involves removing cannabis from Germany’s narcotics law entirely.
Minister Lauterbach’s presentation to the federal cabinet was truly historic and cause for celebration inside and outside of Germany. Now that the ‘excitement dust’ is settling a bit, many within the global cannabis community are wondering where things go from here?
What Happens Next?
One of the biggest takeaways from last week’s presentation comes at the macro level in the form of Germany’s government making it clear that cannabis legalization is inevitable. It’s not a matter of if, but when.
“The presentation of the key points paper by Health Minister Lauterbach was a historic date. The German government leaves no doubt that cannabis legalization is politically desired by it and will also be pushed through against all odds.” points out German cannabis policy expert Kai Friedrich Niermann.
Kai and his law firm KFN+ advise major CBD and medical cannabis companies around the globe. Kai is also legal advisor to the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), and a regular speaker at International Cannabis Business Conference events.
It is expected that early next year legalization legislation will be formally introduced in Germany. However, prior to a legalization measure being formally submitted, the nation’s government will continue to seek approval from the European Union. With that in mind, the conversation regarding cannabis legalization in Germany will now shift focus beyond Germany’s borders towards the larger continental discussion.
Will The European Union Prevent German Legalization?
It is no secret that Germany is a party to various treaties, both at the continental and international level. As I have previously stated, I do not think that international treaties will be an issue, if for any reason because Uruguay and Canada have both passed legalization measures and the sky is still in place over both of those countries the last time I checked.
Just as pushback from the international community and international treaties did not derail legalization efforts in those two countries, the same will presumably prove to be true when Germany legalizes. The European Union is a somewhat different matter, although, the final result will likely prove to be the same in that the German legalization effort will ultimately prevail.
“In order to comply with its obligations under international drug treaties and EU law, Germany has opted for an interpretative declaration to the monitoring bodies of the UN treaties, referring to its own constitutional principles, the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court and the interpretative declaration already issued on the 1988 treaty. According to the German government, the plan to legalize cannabis in Germany is in line with the purpose and legal requirements of the conventions, as the focus of the reform is the protection of health and young people, and not the promotion of cannabis consumption.” stated Kai Friedrich Niermann.
“The EU Commission and the other EU member states are to be informed of this in a notification procedure. Minister Lauterbach assumes that the EU will comment on this approach in the short term, so that the legislative project can be introduced in the Bundestag as planned from January.” Kai went on to say.
“I assume that preliminary talks have already been held with the European Commission, and that no fundamental reservations are to be expected in this respect. Particularly in view of the fact that a number of member states are also already making preparations for a reform of their national cannabis policies. Minister Lauterbach also assumes that if the EU Commission gives its approval in principle, lawsuits from other member states pursuing a more restrictive cannabis policy will have no chance of success.” he concluded.