Will Germany Legalize Cannabis In 2023?

With cannabis reforms gaining traction around the world, most predict Germany to be the next major legalization victory — the question is will that happen in 2023, or beyond?

Full story after the jump.

Editor’s note: This editorial was contributed by Johnny Green, Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference.

As historians look back on 2022 from a cannabis policy and industry perspective, they will no doubt consider it to be a monumental year. Arguably the most noteworthy item from 2022 was the adult-use cannabis legalization presentation in October to Germany’s federal cabinet by the nation’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

The presentation to the federal cabinet came roughly a year after Germany’s voters elected a new governing coalition dubbed the ‘Traffic Light Coalition,’ which included several members who participated in a historic discussion about cannabis reforms at the 2021 International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin. During that discussion, which was the first of its kind for cannabis policy in Germany, candidates made it clear they would pursue legalization if elected. The October 2022 presentation by Minister Lauterbach provided the first meaningful glimpse into what German legalization will likely involve after months of the international cannabis community sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for details to emerge.

Part of the proposed legalization plan involves removing cannabis from the nation’s narcotics law. That policy change alone would have a dramatic impact on nearly every facet of Germany’s current approach to cannabis regulation and enforcement, including medical cannabis and research efforts. Adult consumers would be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis according to the plan and cultivate up to 3 plants in their homes. The plan also involves the launch of a regulated adult-use industry, and that last component is likely where the heavy political lifting will be focused in 2023, both within and beyond Germany’s borders.

Lobbying The European Union

During his presentation to the federal cabinet, Minister Lauterbach indicated he would first seek approval from the European Union prior to formally introducing a legalization measure for lawmakers to consider. In an ideal scenario, the European Union would grant its blessing for Germany to proceed with legalization, if only to help mitigate legal challenges by other European Union member nations. Other nations could certainly still pursue legal challenges but getting prior approval from the European Union would preemptively throw a considerable amount of metaphorical cold water on any of those pursuits.

Unfortunately, after roughly two months of Minister Lauterbach making his case to the European Union, there doesn’t appear to be much traction being made. Minister Lauterbach previously announced that he would be incorporating an ‘expert opinion’ to help with the push at the EU level, which was subsequently met with cannabis opponents indicating that they too would be incorporating an ‘expert opinion’ into their own strategies.

Meanwhile, pro-cannabis lawmakers in Germany are growing impatient and starting to apply pressure on Minister Lauterbach to proceed with introducing a legalization measure regardless of what the EU has to say about it. At the end of 2022, members of the Traffic Light Coalition blocked funding that had been earmarked for the Health Ministry’s public relations efforts, citing delays in introducing cannabis legalization as the reason for withholding the government funds. Clearly, any perceived foot-dragging on the part of the Health Ministry will not be tolerated by the governing coalition and there will be ramifications for continued delays.

Is An Intercontinental Showdown Brewing?

The effort to obtain EU sign-off on Germany’s legalization plan will take one of two paths in 2023.

The first path is that the EU will grant its approval for Germany to proceed. Given that the expressed desire for German legalization by lawmakers is not new and the EU has yet to grant its blessing, it’s likely that EU approval will not happen in early 2023.

The second path is, of course, that Germany will proceed without the EU’s prior approval. As previously mentioned, domestic ramifications have already occurred due to delays in introducing a legalization measure, and that pressure will presumably grow with every passing week in 2023 until a measure is formally submitted. Even lawmakers who are currently letting the process play out between Germany and the EU will eventually grow impatient and join their colleagues in calling for the country to proceed with deciding its own domestic cannabis policies.

If/when the measure is introduced in 2023, it will almost certainly change the tone of any ongoing discussions and negotiations. It’s easy for the EU to slowplay the process and act as if it is still considering Germany’s proposal in an indefinite fashion. After all, that’s a standard tactic at every level of politics, especially when it comes to maintaining the status quo of cannabis prohibition. But, the second that Germany formally introduces its measure, such tactics get tossed out the window with the EU being forced to move in one direction or another, for better or worse.

The International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin this June is also sure to spark further interest in Germany’s legalization prospects, and the emerging EU cannabis industry in general.

It’s likely that an intercontinental showdown will occur in 2023 regarding Germany’s legalization pursuits and while prohibition dinosaurs at the EU will no doubt do everything that they can to thwart legalization in Germany and beyond, eventually the walls of prohibition will crumble. Whether that happens in 2023 in Germany or not is something that we will all have to wait and see, however, one thing that everyone can count on is that pro-cannabis lawmakers in Germany are going to continue doing everything that they can to make 2023 a big year for cannabis reforms.


Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe

Have an additional perspective to share? Send us a message to let us know, and if your comment is chosen by our editors it could be featured here.


Ganjapreneur is made possible by our partners:

Latest Cannabis News

View all news Get email updates

Featured Business Profiles

Create a profile View all categories

From Our Partners