When Germany’s new coalition announced plans to legalize recreational cannabis in late 2021, there were few details on governing the sector. However, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach indicated last week that the legalization of cannabis would begin soon.
He told the German publication Handelsblatt that he has changed his mind about legalization in the last two years and that the hazards of non-legalization exceed the risks of recreational cannabis legalization. “I’ve always been opposed to cannabis legalization,” he stated in a social media post, “but I changed my mind about a year ago.”
Furthermore, Finance Minister Christian Lindner acknowledged that the legalization of recreational cannabis has begun. “People frequently ask me, ‘When will Bubatz [German street slang for cannabis] be legal?’ Soon, I would say,” he wrote in a tweet. On the same day, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann indicated that he is undertaking a complete technical preparation for cannabis legalization through a consultation process with the Ministry of Health and other agencies. In addition, the federal states, municipalities, associations, science, and civil society players will all be involved in the process. Lauterbach predicts that technical talks will begin this summer, with a draft measure available in late 2022.
Other political crises kept the traffic light coalition busy after the German federal government stated in November 2021 that it would legalize cannabis, including the COVID-19 epidemic and the war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion. Finally, however, the government’s promise to modify cannabis legislation in Germany appears to be coming true, which may be a first in German politics.
However, other factors must be considered, including the model used to legalize adult-use cannabis sales. The government stated that the selling of cannabis to adults would be regulated through licensed retailers. However, whether lawmakers will set a maximum THC content for cannabis goods is unknown.
Additionally, cultivating cannabis at home is an alternative. The German Green Party favors home cultivation, part of a coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). However, the details are still being worked out. According to research conducted by the University of Düsseldorf, recreational cannabis reform may generate over $5.3 billion in new annual tax income for the country and create over 27,000 legal jobs in the cannabis business. Nonetheless, the government believes that controlled cannabis sales will curb the criminal market and funnel cannabis goods through authorized channels to protect minors and the financial part of the change.
Germany has high hopes for the legalization of recreational cannabis. As a result, Germany may become the first European country to legalize recreational marijuana sales, attracting foreign investors. Since legalizing medicinal cannabis in 2017, Germany has become Europe’s largest medical cannabis market. However, according to a report by global market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners, growth slowed last year. According to the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV), sales of publicly insured medicinal cannabis have stalled in recent quarters, with Q3 2021 having nearly equal sales value as Q3 2020 publicly funded market climbed by 7%. The current lack of market growth, according to the report, is attributable to limited patient access to medicinal cannabis, as doctors are sometimes reticent to prescribe cannabis for a variety of reasons. A recreational cannabis business in the country, on the other hand, might reduce legal barriers to the distribution and access of cannabis for medical purposes.
Suppose the government does not postpone the release of a draft bill to legalize recreational cannabis by the end of this year. In that case, Germany might lead the recreational cannabis business in Europe, as other European countries appear to be on the verge of legalization.