Legalising Cannabis in Germany - High Ambitions

The 24th of November 2021 was a remarkable day for German drug policy reformers and cannabis enthusiasts. The federal election allowed a coalition to form, which is called the “traffic light coalition” due to the individual parties’ colours. Whilst two parties, the Greens and the FDP, are campaigning for cannabis legalisation for quite a while now, the SPD (which will provide the new chancellor) was so far only in favour of cannabis decriminalisation and pilot projects for a regulated market.

But finally, the coalition agreement was published, accompanied by a press conference. On the one hand, there was not a single word on cannabis or drug policy in the press conference. On the other hand, the coalition agreement is quite clear on this topic: A fully regulated recreational cannabis market for adult users via licensed shops is described. The aims are to ensure quality, particularly referring to adulterated products on the current illegal market, but also to enable youth protection. According to the document there will an evaluation after four years.

Furthermore, drug checking (which is still considered illegal in Germany) and further harm reduction measures are mentioned. With regard to tobacco, alcohol (and soon also cannabis), better substance abuse prevention and further restrictions for advertisement are stated. Afterwards, the authors concluded that scientific evidence should determine drug policy measures to ensure public heath. Particularly the last statement could be the foundation for many future reforms.

There is already criticism from the German hemp association (DHV) that home-growing is not described in the agreement (which may be due to the economic interest of FDP and SPD). However, the Greens have the greatest experience with writing bills for cannabis legalisation and according to their “cannabis control law” (Cannabiskontrollgesetz), a tolerance for possessing up to three flowering plants is recommended.

It must be emphasised that there are still many milestones to overcome. So far the negotiators of the individual parties have agreed on the coalition agreement. The official agreement by all involved parties, writing/finalising the bill and obtaining a majority in Parliament may take some time but should be doable. But convincing or bypassing the Federal Council may be a bit more tricky. Perhaps the recently predicted tax savings/revenues of 4.7 billion € per year accelerate the process.

So far, no legalisation is set to stone, but reading this in a pdf written by our soon-to-be government, is literally creating high hopes.

By Fabian Steinmetz