Germany’s Cannabis Legalization Plans Revealed
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Germany’s Cannabis Legalization Plans Revealed

A leaked blueprint for policy reform would decriminalize the purchase and possession of small amounts of cannabis, as well as legalize adult-use sales in licensed shops.

October 20, 2022

Germany’s plans to legalize adult-use cannabis have been revealed after a blueprint for policy reform leaked to the RND newspaper group Oct. 19.

The government aims to decriminalize the purchase and possession of small amounts of cannabis, as well as legalize adult-use sales in licensed shops, according to a POLITICO report.

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Germany legalized medical cannabis in 2017, and the coalition that came to power last year unveiled plans for additional policy reform during its campaign.

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The leaked “cornerstone paper” has been circulated among government officials, POLITICO reported, and is the first step toward introducing and approving legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis.

The paper stems from a months-long inquiry by Burkhard Blienert, Germany’s commissioner on narcotic drugs, according to the news outlet.

Any forthcoming adult-use cannabis legislation would be based on Blienert’s plan, which would decriminalize the purchase and possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis for adults, as well as legalize the cultivation of up to two plants at home, POLITICO reported.

In addition, the proposal would allow licensed shops and potentially also pharmacies to sell cannabis, according to the news outlet, and Blienert is also considering allowing “specialty stores with consumption options.”

The plan includes a 15% cap on THC, as well as a 10% THC limit for young adults aged 18 to 21, POLITICO reported.

Blienert’s proposal also stipulates that Germany’s cannabis products must be produced domestically to avoid any conflicts with international law, according to the news outlet.

“We are pleased that the federal government is aiming for a nationwide supply at prices analogous to the illegal market in order to curb illicit operations and thus ensure more protection of minors, and quality control with the health of the consumer in mind,” said Niklas Kouparanis, CEO of Bloomwell Group, one of Germany’s largest medical cannabis companies. “However, the draft framework thwarts its own goals with certain measures. In order to be able to meet the demand of adult-use cannabis, we should make imported cannabis a reality as soon as possible. Domestic production alone will hardly be able to meet Germany’s demand for adult-use cannabis from day one. If home-grown cultivation booms in this case, this leads to products that are less controlled and regulated instead of more safety measures for consumers. There’s also the issue that THC limits may play into the hands of the illegal market.”

Kouparanis also cautioned that the government must carefully consider its taxation structure and other financial burdens that will be placed on the adult-use cannabis market.

“The planned ‘cannabis tax’ must also be adapted to current challenges along the entire value chain,” he said. “Among other things, energy prices will also have an impact on domestic cultivation. Many U.S. states and Canada’s market are cautionary examples of how difficult it can be to push back the illegal market.”

While other European nations, including Portugal, have legalized cannabis, others are looking to see how Germany—Europe’s most populous country—approaches policy reform before moving forward with their own legalization plans.

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Formal legislation is expected in the coming months, and Anna-Sophia Kouparanis, Bloomwell Group’s co-founder, said adult-use legalization could also help expand access for Germany’s medical cannabis patients.

“As reported in the draft of the legalization framework, we welcome that cannabis will no longer be considered a narcotic in the future,” she said. “This historic step will also significantly ease the administrative burden of medical cannabis therapy and may finally lead to more chronically ill people benefiting from cannabinoid-based therapy. After all, access to doctors who are willing and able to support patients in cannabinoid-based therapy is still a bottleneck that our industry faces."