Controlled Substances

Schedule I includes: "non-marketable narcotics"; these are illicit narcotics without current evidence-based medical benefit, e.g. heroin and all Ecstasy-type drugs.

Schedule II includes: "illicit narcotic drugs, but not available as such on special prescription", e.g. narcotics which are used commercially for the manufacture of other products, particularly pharma-ceuticals. These include, inter alia, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and levamphetamine (DE-LETE dexamphetamine).

Schedule III includes: "marketable narcotic drugs available on special prescription", these are all narcotic drugs which may be prescribed by physicians, dental surgeons and veterinary surgeons for medical purposes (e.g. opium, morphine and methadone).

Drug use and Possession

German law does not define narcotic drug consumption as such as a criminal offence. However, anyone who possesses narcotic drugs for their personal use and does not have a written authorisation for their acquisition, shall be considered to commit an offence as shall be anyone who cultivates, produces, acquires, trades in narcotics or otherwise places them on the market without any official authorisation.

Smoking marijuana itself is not a crime, but growing, possessing and selling it is. The Federal Constitutional Court recommends not enforcing a penalty for possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, as long as the possessor is not near a school and poses no threat to the public. The definition for "small amount" varies from state to state: in Berlin it is up to 15 grams (half an ounce); in Munich it is six grams.

The public prosecutor may, when prosecuting personal use offences, refrain from prosecution even without consent of the court if he/she considers the offender's guilt to be minor, if there is no public interest in the offence and the narcotics were only intended for the offender's own use in small quantities.

Substitution treatment

Detailed provisions on demand reduction and harm minimisation have been included into the Narcotics Act, among them "therapy instead of punishment" (1981), substitution-based treatment and the distribution of sterile disposable syringes (1992), drug consumption rooms (2000) and diamorphine-based substitution treatment (2009).

According to the provisions on "therapy instead of punishment" the enforcement authority (usually the public prosecutor) may, with the approval of the court, postpone the execution of a prison sentence or the remainder of a sentence of not more than two years for a maximum period of two years, in cases where the convicted person committed the offence as a result of their addiction to narcotics. Another prerequisite for this postponement is, however, for the convict to be undergoing or firmly determined to undergo addiction rehabilitation treatment.

The time spent in this treatment will, after its completion, be deducted from the duration of the prison sentence. If the offender has completed the treatment successfully, this may lead to a suspension of the sentence and finally to its remission. Under the terms of this Act, treatment especially means residential treatment, mostly in officially recognized private institutions. The institutions providing the treatment are obliged to inform the competent enforcement authority of any discontinuation/dropout of treatment. If the offender does not carry on with the treatment, the suspension of the sentence shall be revoked and its execution continued.

The admissibility of drug consumption rooms included a catalogue of minimum standards guaranteeing particularly compatibility with the International Narcotic Drugs Legislation. The Narcotics Act leaves it to the discretion of the Federal Laender whether or not they wish to permit drug consumption rooms. If so, the Land government has to issue an ordinance based on the Narcotics Act which regulates the details of the licensing procedure and the prerequisites for admission. These ordinances have been issued in six of the 16 Federal Laender. The operators of drug consumption rooms have the task to contact hard-to-reach drug addicts as regularly as possible, provide survival assistance, prevent the typical diseases related to injecting drug use (such as HIV and hepatitis infections), stabilize their health and offer them counselling and treatment to help them quit their illicit activities and drug addiction and to prevent illicit drug trafficking. They have to co-operate closely with all competent authorities and institutions.

The "substitution-based treatment of opiate addicts" requires the regular prescription and administration of "substitutes drugs". The most important principle is that such "substitution" may not only consist of supplying the required doses of a substitute (not a mere "dose 'n' go" scheme) but that it also has to include a qualified substitution treatment. This also comprises any necessary psychiatric, psychotherapeutic and/or psychosocial measures of treatment and care (principle of comprehensive addiction therapy). This, in turn, requires close co-operation among all persons involved in treatment.

Usually in Germany, levomethadone, methadone, buprenorphine and, in special exceptional cases, codeine or dihydrocodeine may be prescribed as "substitute drugs". Since April 2015, morphine (Substitol) has also been available as a substitution therapy. Narcotic law provisions also permit the use of diamorphine [heroin] for the management of a severe opiate dependence in special institutions and under strict requirements (e.g. not less than five years history of severe opiate dependence, two failed opiate addiction therapies, patient has completed their 23rd year of life). The regulation was based on a pilot project in seven German cities that abundantly proved the superiority of diamorphine treatment for this group of extremely dependent individuals (such as improvement of health status, reduction of or abstinence from hard drugs use, enhanced social integration, housing and employment situation).

The Narcotics Act does not include any provisions on the compulsory treatment of individuals addicted to narcotic drugs. It is true that the Criminal Code (section 64), the Juvenile Courts Act (section 93a) and different acts at Laender level comprise general provisions on the "placement in an institution for withdrawal therapy". However, the application of these provisions is very limited, particularly with regard to persons addicted to narcotic drugs.


Illicit possession, manufacture, trade in, import, export, transit, sale, delivery, purchase or obtaining a precursor in any other way; up to 5 years prison. For serious cases, such as organised trade or on a commercial basis; min. 1 year up to 15 years. Offence due to negligence; up to 1 year or fine.

Deliberate or negligent breach of various documentation requirements; administrative offence punishable by a fine of up to €25,000.


It is against the law to sell tobacco products to people under 18 years of age. They are not allow to smoke in public. Cigarette machines in public areas have been fitted with a device that requires a user to insert either a German drivers license or a bank card in a slot before cigarettes can be purchased.

Public buildings, including bars, restaurants and nightclubs are smoke-free. However, in most states establishments are allowed to provide separate smoking rooms. Bavaria is the only state that does not allow smoking rooms.


At 14, minors are allowed to consume and possess undistilled (fermented) alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, as long as they are in the company of their parents or a legal guardian. At 16, minors are allowed to consume and possess undistilled (fermented) alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine without their parents or a legal guardian. At 18, people are allowed access to distilled liquor.