Here’s What We Know About Germany’s Upcoming Adult-Use Cannabis Pilot Programs

While Germany’s efforts to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis suffered a minor blow following last week’s revelations, the country remains on track to launch a five-year adult-use cannabis pilot program and, in the meantime, intends to decriminalize cannabis possession and home growing.

Full story after the jump.

Last week in Germany, federal ministers from key parts of the nation’s government held a press conference in which they announced long-awaited components for what will serve as the foundation for the country’s national cannabis policy soon.

Throughout the press conference, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach described components that will be very favorable for cannabis consumers’ personal freedoms. A possession limit of up to 25 grams of cannabis and a cultivation limit of a maximum of three plants is expected, with the legal age set at 18.

“In a first step, cultivation in non-profit associations and private cultivation should be made possible nationwide,” government officials stated in a press release after the historic press conference.

“In a second step, the sale in specialist shops will be implemented as a scientifically designed, regionally limited and time-limited model project. In the model project, the effects of a commercial supply chain on health and youth protection as well as the black market can be scientifically examined in more detail,” the press release also stated.

Local cannabis commerce pilot programs, which is what is being proposed in Germany, are not a new thing in Europe, although they do not seem to be common in other parts of the world. A cannabis commerce pilot program is already in operation in Basel, Switzerland. Starting back in February, 180 adults in Basel began making legal purchases through the local program, which expected to expand to 374 consumers in the future. Another pilot program is expected to start in Zurich in the future involving 2,100 consumers.

The following pilot program details were released after last week’s press conference in Germany:

  • The project duration is five years from the established supply chain.
  • There is a spatial restriction to delivery points and adult residents of certain districts/cities in several federal states (opt-in approach).
  • Within the framework of the law, approval of the sale of edibles is being examined in compliance with strict youth and health protection regulations.

“The previous restrictive handling of cannabis in Germany has failed. Banning cannabis criminalizes countless people, pushing them into criminal structures and tying up immense resources from law enforcement agencies. It’s time for a new approach that allows more personal responsibility, pushes back the black market and relieves the police and public prosecutor’s offices. We trust people more – without downplaying the dangers that can emanate from cannabis consumption,” stated German Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann after the press conference.

According to Germany’s most recent Epidemiological Addiction Survey, roughly 8.8% of Germany’s population reported having consumed cannabis at least once during the last year.

“Cannabis is a common stimulant. It is often offered and used illegally in Germany. This is often a health hazard. Adolescents in particular are impaired in their social and cognitive development by cannabis. Despite this, more and more young people are using the drug. The black market goods are often contaminated and create additional health hazards. We can no longer accept this. That’s why we dare the controlled sale of cannabis to adults within clear limits and push back the black market, flanked by preventive measures for young people. Health protection is the priority. The previous cannabis policy has failed. Now we have to break new ground.” said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach about cannabis policy in Germany.

As mentioned previously, another key component of the first phase of Germany’s legalization plan will be noncommercial associations or clubs. Membership will be capped at 500 consumers per club.

“Membership fees cover the cost price, staggered according to the quantity supplied (possibly with a basic flat rate and an additional amount per gram supplied). The number of members per association is limited to a maximum of 500 with a minimum age of 18 years and domicile or habitual abode in Germany. The number of associations can be limited by population density,” the previously cited press release stated.

“The use of cannabis is a social reality,” said Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir after the press conference. “Decades of prohibition policies have turned a blind eye to this and, above all, caused problems: at the expense of our children and young people, the health of consumers and the law enforcement authorities. Now we are creating a coherent and pragmatic cannabis policy from a single source, from cultivation to consumption. Nobody should have to buy from dealers without knowing what they are getting. Through controlled cultivation and distribution within the framework of cannabis clubs, we strengthen youth and health protection. And: We cut the ground for organized crime, which does not even shy away from selling it to children. With a regional model project, we are also exploring the possibilities of a commercial supply chain.”

“The cornerstones of the 2-pillar model (“ C lub A nbau & Regional -Modell/ CARe ”) have been developed by the Federal Ministry of Health as the leader, as well as the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Ministry of Justice, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Foreign Office in accordance with the technical responsibilities. The EU and international law limits were taken into account. On the basis of the key issues paper, the federal government will now present a draft law at short notice,” said officials.

“The federal departments are working on all parts of the project within the scope of their respective responsibilities under the overall leadership of the BMG. Both pillars are incorporated into concrete draft laws, with the working draft for pillar 1 being presented in April 2023, followed by the draft law for pillar 2. The results of the scientific report already commissioned on the effects of the legalization of recreational cannabis on health and youth protection in other countries are taken into account for both pillars,” government officials also stated.

The battle to legalize adult-use cannabis sales nationwide in Germany will continue, with the goal of eventually getting the European Union’s approval.

“At the same time, the Federal Government is continuing its efforts (particularly through the missions abroad) to promote its approaches to its European partners and is also examining the extent to which a sufficient number of EU Member States can initiate the initiative in order to comply with the relevant EU legal framework in the medium term to be made more flexible and developed further,” government officials concluded in their press release.

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