Tag: Germany

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Scenes From German Cannabis Legalization In Progress

The German government is clearly moving forward with plans to legalize the plant. A delegation of Bundestag members is currently touring California – and last week two members of the SPD gave a progress report via Instagram

If there was a portrait of the in-progress discussion over German cannabis legalization to be sketched, it would be this. Very earnestly, very soberly and very deliberately, lawmakers are trying to both research North American cannabis markets and give the German people a general idea of where the legislation is heading.

SPD Informal Briefing Via Social Media

Last week, two members of the SPD, Carmen Wegge and Dirk Heidenblut went on Instagram to give an update into how legalization legislation was progressing. There were few surprises – starting with the fact that the government does not believe that international law – of either the EU or global kind – will derail the legalization initiative.

Beyond this, they both stated that they expect the draft legislation to be introduced either at the end of this year or early next, and the legislation to pass by next summer.

Home grow is very likely to be included in all of this. Online sales are almost certainly not going to be allowed. The Bundestag is also looking at both pharmacies and social clubs beyond dispensaries for legal sales.

Beyond this, it is also likely that cannabis will be allowed to be both domestically grown and imported, and that decriminalization will be part of the final legislation – not be implemented beforehand.

German Bundestag Delegation in California

As reported in the German zeitung Tagesschau, the Bundestag is keeping busy during the California leg of their North American cannabis research tour. The delegation is visiting as many as three cities a day to understand how the state has implemented recreational reform.

The takeaways? That the legal cultivation of cannabis is not profitable in the American model, and that the black market is still its biggest competition. Further, while they were impressed by the range of edibles available and are not ruling this aspect of the rec market out at home, candy that appeals to children, like gummy bears, is likely to be excluded.

Beyond this, the fragmented nature of regulation, from town to town is not likely to be a part of the approach in Germany. A national approach is something that seems to be more attractive.


cannabis flower

Going Back Is Not An Option: From Germany To Thailand, Lawmakers Realize Cannabis Legalization Is On Horizon

In the last week, government officials from both Germany and Thailand have echoed a similar sentiment

In every movement, there comes a so-called “tipping point” when the majority of people understand that there is no way to preserve the status quo. In his famous book of the same name, Malcolm Gladwell defines a “tipping point” as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point” of an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.

That moment appears at this point, to have come for cannabis legalization.,

Last week, albeit on opposite sides of the globe, both Thai ministers and German elected representatives said the same thing.

Thailand right now is trying to figure out how to keep the cannabis genie in the medical bottle (and are largely realizing that they are failing). That said, there is no way, according to Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul that renewing legislation criminalizing the drug and those who use it, can be reinstated.

In Germany, where a group of lawmakers have just gone to North America to see for themselves what reform looks like in both Canada and Canada, even the AfD (extreme right-wing party) representative on the trip echoed the same sentiment.

The time, in other words, has finally come.

How it all moves forward, however, is still very unclear.

The Devil Is in The Details

In both Thailand and Germany, lawmakers are realizing that legalization is an unstoppable force – but how to regulate the same is still a tricky question. Even if the same causes a backlash from more conservative elements in society.

In Thailand, this has meant the delay of a bill fully legalizing medical use because some fear that this will be seen as a blank slate to allow recreational use. That said, the Health Minister believes that classifying cannabis as a narcotic will only create a much larger problem and criminalize people who the government does not wish to punish.

In Germany, the current debate, beyond when the recreational legalization will pass, is how to phase in reform. Some believe that decriminalization should come first. Others believe that decrim and full legalization should happen at the same time. The latter is also the growing feeling in France.

One thing is for sure, no matter the final path to full and final legalization of cannabis. Nobody wants to keep the status quo. And that is a major victory for both the industry and reform advocates.

Germany, Thailand

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Prohibition Treaties Will Not Stop Cannabis Legalization In Germany

I have helped work on cannabis reform efforts since the late 1990s when medical cannabis reform initiatives were being heavily pursued on the West Coast of the United States. Those efforts culminated in election victories in California in 1996, and Oregon and Washington in 1998. Since that time I have seen cannabis prohibitionists across the U.S. basically recycle their failed talking points and tactics from that era over and over again, and the same thing appears to be happing in Germany right now.

Unless you have been living under a rock then you know that Germany is trending towards launching an adult-use cannabis market, and also that once the launch occurs, Germany’s market is going to be considerably more massive than that of Uruguay and Canada combined. Unfortunately, there are futile attempts ramping up that are geared towards halting the process, with the latest one involving cannabis opponents hurling the idea that cannabis cannot be legalized in Germany ‘due to European treaties.’

Theory Versus Reality

Is Germany bound by European and international treaties, including ones that prohibit cannabis? Yes, obviously. Are Canada and Uruguay also bound by international treaties that prohibit adult-use cannabis commerce, including ones that Germany is also a part of? Also yes. With all of that being said, laws are only as good as the enforcement behind them, and just as the sky did not fall and the international community didn’t perform whatever the global community version of a SWAT raid is on Canada and Uruguay when they launched adult-use cannabis sales, the same will prove to be true in Germany when they inevitably launch adult-use sales within their own borders.

Leading up to legalization in Canada in 2018, Russia tried the ‘what about international treaties’ argument in an attempt to derail Canada’s efforts, to no avail. The same thing happened in Uruguay in 2013 when the United Nations tried the same tactic (and failed). It’s a similar concept that I personally witnessed in the United States when opponents tried and failed with their ‘but cannabis is federally illegal!’ arguments. Bad laws are meant to be broken, and cannabis prohibition is one of the worst public policies in human history.

Even within Europe there are examples of jurisdictions disregarding continental and international treaties when it comes to adult-use cannabis commerce. Late last year Malta passed an adult-use legalization measure, although they have yet to issue any licenses and access there is going to be different compared to what will eventually be implemented in Germany. Regardless, there has been no crackdown in Malta as a result of passing a measure that is in direct defiance of certain treaties. Adult-use cannabis pilot programs area already in place in Denmark, with Switzerland getting ready to launch its own pilot program, and eventually, the Netherlands. Again, international treaties have yet to derail any of those efforts in those European countries.

An Obvious Need For A New Approach

Earlier this month European anti-drug coordinators met in Prague, and Czech National Anti-drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořil called for a new approach to cannabis policy and regulation in Europe at the continental level.

“We hope it will be a coordinated effort (to regulate the cannabis market). It is impossible not to talk about it on an EU-wide basis. Prohibition has not proved to be effective enough; we need to look for other models of control. A controlled market may be the only possible solution,” Vobořil said according to Euractiv.

Cannabis reform is on the move in Europe and in every other corner of the earth, and with it, the spread of the emerging cannabis industry. Lawmakers and regulators can try all of the delay tactics that they can think of, and it’s likely a safe bet that they certainly will, however, those efforts will always prove to be futile. At best, all it will do is delay the inevitable. The cannabis industry toothpaste is out of the tube and it is not going back in, and it’s beyond time that treaties reflect that undeniable fact and catch up with reality.

Europe, Germany

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Is The Biden White House Waiting On Germany To Move Ahead On Recreational Reform?

The US president is putting off further conversation about American cannabis reform until after the mid-terms. Is he waiting for Germany if not Europe beyond that, to go first?

President Joe Biden’s track record on cannabis reform is very poor. This has not changed since he entered public service in Congress.

The most recent discussion is how fast the Administration might move forward on the reforms it has promised – namely stopping the federal imprisonment of people convicted of non-violent cannabis crimes. In July, six senators sent a letter to Biden to express their frustration over the failure to substantively address the many harms of Drug War policies. They urged Biden to use executive clemency authority to help speed this up.

So far, Biden has ignored such calls. Indeed, according to Marijuana Moment, a leading cannabis policy publication in the US, as of last Friday, the President announced that he was punting any new drug reform policy until after the mid-terms.

Is Biden waiting for other countries to go first?

The Giant Discussion Over International Cannabis Policy Is On

One of the reasons that Biden may be waiting until after the mid-terms, apart from the fact that Democrats seem to be on course to do well in the off-year elections, is that he may be waiting for the conversation in Germany, if not Europe, beyond that, to proceed. It is widely expected that a draft bill of the German cannabis legalization bill will be made public either late this fall or early next year. This, along with the working group of European nations now focused on cannabis legalization (which includes Malta and Luxembourg), is the first international attempt by multiple countries to address both domestic law and international regulation.

One of the thornier issues, according to conventional wisdom, is how countries (and regions like the EU) will move forward to implement recreational reform without thumbing their noses at, or withdrawing completely from, the two main international laws that now make cannabis illegal. Namely, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Germany, after all is the fourth largest economy on the planet. America is number one, with a GDP five times larger. Nonetheless, the fact that Germany will go first, or so the rumours continue to say out of Berlin, will give political cover to those who have gone before (Canada and Uruguay) as well as those who have yet to take the plunge.

One thing is for sure. In Germany, national politicians are ready for the change, not to mention the German people – and no matter when Biden chooses to proceed, it is almost certain at this point, that Germany will go first.

Germany, joe biden, united states

airport airplane

Members Of German Bundestag Travel To North America To Examine Cannabis Legalization

Eight members of the Bundestag’s Health Committee head to North America to educate themselves about how reform works in both California and Canada

A delegation of eight members of the Bundestag’s Health Committee have landed in North America to examine cannabis legalization as it is done in the US and Canada. The group will be there between September 10-17.

Cannabis legalization will, however, only be part of the discussion. The delegation will also look at how the different countries have dealt with the Pandemic, the healthcare of underprivileged people and digitalization efforts.

The delegation consists of members of the Greens, the CDU/CSU, the SPD, the FDP, Die Linke, and one member of the AfD.

A Coordinated Strategy to Move Forward on Legalization

The move comes as the Bavarian Health Minister and another CSU member of the Bundestag’s health committee have commissioned, and are now promoting, a report from (very conservative) Bundestag lawyers, saying that cannabis legalization will violate EU law.

It also comes as a new Ipsos poll shows that an amazing 61% of Germans surveyed believe that cannabis reform should be legal.

One thing is clear. It is not likely that the current government will shrink from its current course, no matter the political opposition.

The German Vanguard

Internationally, the move to full legalization in Germany, the world’s fourth largest economy, is going to have a knock-on effect just about everywhere – which includes countries far from Europe’s borders.

The reason is that those tasked with reform on a federal level are also grappling, both domestically, and with other countries now on the verge of the same, about how to create a carve-out for cannabis in both European and International law.

On one front this should be relatively easy as the EU has already ruled that CBD at least, is not a narcotic. This means that most of the EU is out of compliance with new EU policy on the same. It also shows a path to legalize higher THC flower.

However, with Germany, Malta and Luxembourg moving forward within the EU (plus Holland and presumably at least Portugal), this will create an international push to address much larger issues – including how to carve cannabis out of international drug control treaties.

There is no way this process is going to be fast enough for patients, recreational users or even the cannabis industry itself. But the good news is that the train has left the station, and there is no turning back.


germany flag

Political Clashes Over Legalization Continue From Bavarian Politicians

Lawyers for the Bundestag Scientific Service of the Bundestag issue analysis of cannabis legalization, claiming it violates EU law – and the cry is picked up, again, by the conservative state Health Minister in Bavaria

The clash over legalization is getting nasty in Germany. In the last three weeks, in late August, a conservative politician, a CSU member and Klaus Holetschek, the state Health Minister of Bavaria, had called out the federal German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, for proceeding on cannabis reform even though Scholz admitted that cannabis was not harmless.

Now, on the official website of the state of Bavaria, Holetschek, has issued a press release calling for the government to stop work on the legalization of cannabis – this time quoting a group of Bundestag lawyers who say that German cannabis legalization will run afoul of EU law.

There are several problems with this approach. The first is that yes, at present, EU law does prohibit recreational cannabis use – mirroring international law on the same issue. However, just as CBD was reclassified by the EU as not a narcotic (and German law is now out of compliance with the same), the entire matter is now being considered at a multilateral level across the EU. Using circular logic like this is patently disingenuous.

The second problem with this tactic of course, is that it smacks of special interests within the CSU/CDU, particularly from Bavaria, who seem to want to derail a popular legislative initiative by the current government. This line of reasoning also fails to mention that the group doing this very conservative analysis was tasked to do the same by CSU affiliated health politician Stephan Pilsinger  – a member of the Bundestag’s health committee – and also, not coincidentally, also hailing from Bavaria.

Why Are Conservatives from Bavaria Challenging Government Efforts To Legalize Cannabis?

There are several reasons that the Bavarian CSU appears to be increasingly vocal on the topic of federal cannabis reform. The first, of course, is that the state is known, domestically at least, to be the most conservative in the country. Kind of like a “German Texas.” Cannabis infractions are more harshly punished here than anywhere else in the country.

Beyond this, however, this campaign seems to be motivated as much by anti-cannabis voices from the party that lost control of the government last national election. This effort, in other words, appears to be the effort of a group of conservative politicians, on a state level, to slow down federal reform.

It is not a tactic unknown in the United States. Whether it is likely to work remains unseen. That said, given the statements of the federal Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach of late, that is not likely.


German Parliament

CSU Critiques Of Traffic Coalition Plan To Legalize Cannabis Meets Wide Mockery

CSU leader Markus Söder and Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach trade barbs over current government drug policy – which goes viral on German Twitter

It all began so innocently. Markus Söder, the leader of the “opposition” to the current parties comprising the Traffic Light Coalition, threw a weighted barb at the government’s drug policy during the CDU party congress in Hanover last weekend. Söder claimed that the legalization of cannabis would automatically lead to the legalization of drugs such as crystal methamphetamine (a highly addictive and dangerous street drug).

There were two problems with the approach. The first is that one of the parties now making up the coalition government, the Greens, did call for the legalization of “party drugs,” specifically cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines – but not crystal meth – in August. This is, however, not in the platform of the Traffic Light Coalition – which is only planning to legalize cannabis. A draft bill is expected to be made public either at the end of this year or early in 2023.

The second however, no doubt prompted by the above inaccuracies, was that Söder mispronounced the name of the drug – and instead, referred to the drug as “crystal mett.”

And this set off a rapid fire, and often humorous response.

Social Media Mockery

It was not only Lauterbach who mocked the mispronouncement on Twitter. His response? “Despite the scathing criticism from Markus Söder that the legalization of cannabis promotes the use of Crystal-Mett, we will not slow down on the same. At least vegetarians will remain safe.” Lauterbach was making a pun connecting the mispronunciation of the name of the drug to the German word for a chopped raw meat spread, frequently served with onions on bread.

This in turn set off an imaginative interchange where German Twitter users posted multiple pictures of what a “meat drug” might look like – or how it might be consumed.

This particularly imaginative response showing an addict applying heat to a spoonful of the referenced meat spread and then injecting it directly into his veins is entitled “The really hard stuff.”

The responses – both from the Health Minister and the Twitterverse seem to reflect the fact that Germans are rapidly warming to the idea of recreational cannabis reform – especially as the majority of the country is behind medical use.

This is a very good sign for the passage of full cannabis legalization sometime in the next 18-24 months aus Deutschland.


berlin germany bundestag

German Poll: More Than 60 Percent Support Cannabis Legalization

Germany is in the midst of a cannabis legalization effort that is more complicated and robust than anything that has ever occurred since the dawn of cannabis prohibition so many decades ago. After the dust settled on Germany’s last federal election in 2021, the incoming coalition government announced plans to move Germany toward launching a regulated adult-use cannabis industry. The current governing German coalition, commonly referred to as the ‘Traffic Light Coalition,’ has worked since late 2021 to explore various public policy components of legalization. According to the results of a new poll from Ipsos, a strong majority of Germans support the effort.

Per Ipsos‘ news release announcing the results of the poll, “61 percent of those surveyed say they would support the controlled sale of cannabis in licensed stores. Only 39 percent consider the plans to legalize cannabis to be irresponsible and fundamentally reject legal sale and consumption.” The survey was conducted online between September 2 and 4, 2022, and involved 1,000 eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 75 in Germany.

Diving Into The Results

Fortunately, there’s majority support for legalization among all age categories (18-75), however, there are statistical differences between age groups. While 61% of the poll’s participants support adult-use cannabis legalization, roughly 55% of people aged 60-75 were supportive. That is quite a bit less than the level of support among poll participants that were aged 18-39 (65%). Sixty two percent of poll participants aged 40-59 years old expressed support for legalization.

The level of support for cannabis legalization does not extend to the legalization of other banned substances in Germany. When poll participants were asked if other substances should be legalized in addition to cannabis, 95% of people expressed opposition to such a public policy change. The overwhelming level of opposition was found across age groups, although younger poll participants were more likely to express support for further legalization compared to older poll participants.

Not An Easy Lift

The current general consensus for when regulated adult-use products will actually be available for legal purchase in Germany seems to be by the year 2025. After the results of the 2021 federal election in Germany became final there was hope for legalization to become a reality in 2022. However, time has proven that hope to be a bit too ambitious.

The fact of the matter is that what German lawmakers and regulators are trying to do is something that has never been done before, at least not at the same scale. Sure, Canada and Uruguay have implemented legal adult-use sales, yet those markets pale in comparison to the size and complexity of Germany’s market. Germany has a much larger population compared to Canada and Uruguay combined, and Germany’s geographical location makes things that much more complex to navigate.

I am personally hopeful that there will be multiple steps to implementing legalization in Germany. After all, there is no need to wait for sales regulations to be formulated before implementing personal possession, consumption, and cultivation provisions. Clearly, cannabis prohibition is a failed public policy in Germany and it would be wise for lawmakers to implement as many legalization provisions as possible that pertain to individual consumers prior to finalizing provisions geared towards regulated sales.


berlin germany flag

German Insurers Begin To Take New Tact On Medical Cannabis

AOK has begun a new program with German Society for Pain Medicine to decrease approval complexity, while Barmer has just issued a new digital section on its website on the medical efficacy of cannabis. Has the tide turned on insurer resistance to medical underwriting of cannabis claims?

There is clearly something afoot with German health insurers when it comes to medical cannabis this fall. Perhaps it is the change in political winds on a national level with pending draft legislation on recreational use – which will ensure that cannabis is a part of the wellness if not healthcare discussion permanently. Perhaps it is that patients have refused to stop suing their health insurers – or that doctors have not stopped prescribing.

Whatever the driver, there have been two interesting developments on the cannabis front in the past week from two of the largest statutory health insurers in Deutschland.

AOK Enters a Pilot Program to Make Approvals Easier

In a major development for German patients – initially at least in the first trial area – AOK has agreed to cooperate with the German Society for Pain Medicine. The group is comprised of doctors who are pain specialists. Last week, the group announced in an online press conference that they are calling for the approvals process for medical cannabis to be simplified. To that end, they have entered into a contract with AOK in Rheinland/Hamburg to roll out a new kind of approvals process where doctors, not the insurer or regional approver, will have the deciding voice in whether a patient can obtain medical cannabis.

This is a huge development – and will be closely watched across the rest of the country.

Barmer Issues a New Cannabis Specialty Web Presence

One of the other top three health insurers to approve cannabis claims (by number), Barmer, has also stepped into the discussion with an interesting new series of educational web pages about cannabis. It appears that it is an effort to educate patients about how to obtain the drug – and goes to great lengths to describe cannabis as a medicine of last resort. Interestingly, they also quote data gathered by the Association of Cannabis Supplying Pharmacies (or VCA) to demonstrate what kinds of patients (and conditions) cannabis was being successfully prescribed for.

The pages also specifically try to discourage patients from obtaining their cannabis from the black market and discusses the issue of cannabis withdrawal, while admitting it is less serious than other drugs.

It appears to be communication from the health insurer in response to a growing interest from their members about the drug. There is nothing on the information provided that Barmer is going to do anything differently in terms of approving claims faster – or in a different way.

The Insurance Question

Holland’s insurers stopped covering medical cannabis claims the same month that the German government agreed to proceed on such a program in 2017.

It is unlikely that such a development will occur in Germany. That said, how the legalization of recreational use cannabis will impact such coverage, but it is unlikely that insurers will be able to step out from this responsibility. There is too much evidence in Germany of medical efficacy – even if the drug remains, sadly, a drug of last resort for most and further, unbelievably difficult to access via legal, medical channels.


germany flag

Debate About Cannabis Legalization Is Still Raging In Germany Despite Government Fast-Tracking Reform

Bayern’s Health Minister has appealed to the German Chancellor to stop cannabis legalization because it was “irresponsible” after Olaf Scholz declares that there is no point in delaying cannabis reform

Last Friday, Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, a member of the CSU, called on the federal German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz (of the SPD) to stop plans to legalize cannabis. In a speech made in Munich, Holetschek based his arguments on a speech that the Chancellor had recently made in Magdeburg that the government will continue to press forward on legalization plans despite some evidence that per Scholz that “people suffer psychological damage” and “ruin their lives” by using cannabis. “If the Chancellor knows the major health risks of cannabis, he should now make use of his authority to issue directives and put the legalization project on hold,” Holetschek said.

The attack appears to be, beyond a direct attack on cannabis legalization specifically, a political attempt to build on citizen protests against Scholz that occurred in Magdeburg last week. These are being prompted by fears over inflation and rising energy prices, beyond generalized criticism of the leadership of the Traffic Light Coalition itself.

Regardless, Holetschek is also the most senior politician, so far, to criticize the idea of cannabis legalization.

What does this mean for German reform?

An Easy Political Target by Conservatives

There is much talk of a conservative backlash in Germany this fall as energy inflation begins to bite. That said, it is uncertain how successful this will be, particularly as the current government has been signalling all summer that it will continue to roll out a package of incentives and other help to minimize the economic pain felt by Germans. The widely praised (and used) $9 a month train tickets are just one of these initiatives. So is a $300 grant to taxpayers from German utilities to offset higher energy prices (which has already been distributed).

The fact that cannabis legalization has been apparently added to issues to criticize the current government over, by a centre-right politician who seems to be trying to score points against the ruling parties more generally, is, as a result, far from a surprise.

The attack also appears to indicate that those against cannabis reform have little evidence or political capital to expend to support the same.

That said, there is increased rumbling if not doubt among some on the ground here that the Traffic Light Coalition will achieve their goal of passing legalization legislation in the next 12 months. Reasons usually now focus on how the German government will be able to fit legalization into international treaties which specifically ban cannabis less than domestic opposition – starting with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotics.

For that very reason, full cannabis legalization is likely to become even more of an imperative as the tripartite government coalition now consisting of authorities from Germany, Luxembourg and Malta strives to create a value that Germans can understand.

Just like help in alleviating the high cost of fuel, cannabis reform represents a tangible metric of accomplishment.

As a result, the fact that a conservative German regional political figure, in what is considered Germany’s most staid state, is trying to call the ruling government “irresponsible” (for any reason) is unlikely to gather much steam federally.

That said, it does appear that other state health departments across Germany are also in the middle of a cannabis education campaign. For example, the Frankfurt Drugs Department will be holding an online forums in early September to educate the public about the efficacy of medical cannabis in treating psychological disorders as well as discuss burning issues like the assumption of costs by insurers for cannabis treatment beyond allowing people to discuss recreational reform.

What such backlash might be a signal of, however, rather tragically, is that state officials in states like Bayern may throw a wrench in local attempts to establish dispensaries once federal reform comes, creating a patchwork of reform that varies from state to state.


driving car dui duii under the influence intoxicants

German Traffic Court Association Recommends An Increase In THC Driving Limits

In a rather shocking victory, the German Traffic Court Association has recommended that legislators increase the level of THC found in blood of drivers suspected of drugged driving before being able to charge them

There has been an unbelievably surprising if not progressive victory on the recreational cannabis front in Germany this August that will certainly have long term implications. Namely, the German Traffic Court, by definition a conservative group that helps set rules on road safety, has recommended to legislators now trying to write cannabis reform legislation, that the current limits on THC levels should be raised from their current level before drivers can be charged with drugged driving.

The current limit is currently one nanogram of THC per millilitre of blood (or the smallest measurement possible). In other words, if one has inhaled any cannabis within the last 60 days, it might prohibit one from driving altogether.

Clearly this is an impossible standard. Yet unlike the police, the Traffic Court has suggested that this limit be increased, citing the impossibility of enforcement once recreational reform becomes legal.

What that limit should be, however, is another question – and further one that went unanswered by the Association.

Regardless this is a highly significant advance for reform. The Association’s recommendations are frequently used by lawmakers when crafting legislation. It is likely that this one will be too.

Driving and Cannabis Use

The entire conversation about driving and cannabis use is one that has been festering in Germany ever since 2017. Namely, patients, who are likely to have the largest concentrations of cannabis in their system but are the least likely to be “high” when driving, have been left in an uneasy legal limbo.

It appears that the Traffic Court has recognized both this, and the other large issue lurking in the room – namely how to judge if someone is impaired by weed while driving by measuring any body fluid.

Impairment from THC intoxication generally lasts no longer than five hours. The problem is finding a test that will accurately reveal if a driver was on the road within this window of time.

Blood tests, rather than hair or urine, are the go-to tests for police inquiries in drugged driving cases.

In the United States, new breathalysers are also being used in some states by the police, although their use is still not only controversial, but even the police prefer blood tests.

It is not clear how such testing would be performed in Germany post legalization.

One thing is for sure. It is far easier to recommend that the current ridiculously low limits be raised – and another to determine what those limits should be.


Medical cannabis

From Gun Bans To Driving Limits: The International War On The Rights Of Medical Cannabis Users

In the United States, the Biden Administration is in favour of banning gun ownership for medical users. In Germany, there is an ongoing debate about driving limits. Such policies rely on outdated criteria to penalize cannabis users

The push to fully and federally legalize cannabis in places like the US and Germany right now is leading to some very unfortunate (and certainly rights-infringing) regulations.

In the US, as various cannabis bills languish in both the House and Senate, and Brittney Griner cools her heels in a Russian prison for possession of less than one gram of cannabis oil, the Biden Administration is (shamefully) defending a federal gun ownership ban for medical cannabis users. The issue is now front and centre in a legal battle launched by Florida agricultural commissioner Nikki Fried (a Democrat) to challenge the same. Fried is running as a Democratic challenger to the sitting Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.

No matter how one feels about gun control, the idea of punishing a sick person who takes a certain kind of medication (which could be any medication, beyond cannabis) is highly worrying. Not to mention represents grotesque discrimination against those with disabilities requiring medication.

In Germany, with a federal government now in the process of figuring out how to craft legislation for the full legalization of cannabis, one of the most controversial aspects of the same is setting drugged driving limits. Currently, drivers are charged with drugged driving if they are caught with even one nanogram of THC in their bloodstream – the smallest measurable amount possible. Both ADAC, the German version of AAA, and the working group of Traffic Court Day, an annual and highly influential congress that recommends new driving regulations to the government, are in support of the smallest limit possible.

That said, there is beginning to be a debate here about how problematic that is for medical users – particularly as they have a continual THC presence in their blood, even if not “high.” Beyond these heavier users of course, even a light recreational user can show traces of cannabinoids in their blood up to 60 days after their last joint. While nobody wants stoned drivers on the speed limit-free Autobahn, there needs to be some kind of compromise – not to mention some kind of technology deployment to the police – which can differentiate between recent enough use to impair driving and a THC blood level that shows constant use.

No matter where this kind of debate is taking place, however, it is clear that such questions have never been answered – and any new regulations are likely to be controversial enough to end up in court. Legislators are unlikely to be able to figure this out on their own.

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