Germany Is The Largest Cannabis Prohibition To Fall So Far

Soft Secrets
03 Apr 2024

It’s official – Germany will implement its long-awaited national adult-use cannabis legalization measure on April 1st, 2024.

The start of the new cannabis law comes after roughly two and a half years of Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach leading the charge in discussions between his office and leadership at the European Union, while simultaneously leading discussions between his office and domestic lawmakers. After many ups and downs, and twist and turns, cannabis will finally be legal in Germany at the start of April.

Germany is not the first country to pass a national adult-use cannabis legalization measure. Malta became the first to do so back in 2021, and Luxembourg passed a more limited measure in 2023. However, Germany’s measure is easily the most significant, both in policy scope and from the perspective of continental and international politics.

Uruguay has also passed a national adult-use legalization measure (in 2013) and Canada has too (in 2018). But legalization in Germany is a much larger cannabis prohibition domino to fall than all four of its legalization predecessors. To put it into perspective, consider the fact that Germany’s population is nearly double that of Uruguay, Canada, Malta, and Luxembourg combined. That, in addition to Germany’s economy now being the third largest on earth. The significance of legalization in Germany cannot be overstated.

The way that legalization came about in Germany created a blueprint for legalization throughout Europe. Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach spent a considerable amount of time negotiating with the European Union regarding what legalization policy components the European Union would allow, and equally important, what it would not allow.

What came out of those extensive discussions, which started in 2021 and are still ongoing, is a German legalization model that involves permitting consumers to cultivate, possess, and consume cannabis. Starting April 1st, adults in Germany will be able to cultivate up to three plants in their residence, as well as possess up to 50 grams of cannabis in their homes. They will also be able to possess up to 25 grams on their person when away from their homes.

Germany will also remove cannabis from the nation’s Narcotics List as part of the ‘first phase of legalization.’ Initial legalization in Germany will also involve permitting noncommercial cannabis clubs to operate. The clubs, combined with home cultivation, will serve as the foundation for consumers to legally source their cannabis in Germany. Cannabis clubs are also expected to be a primary source for cannabis consumers to source cannabis seeds and plant clones.

A second phase of legalization in Germany, sometimes referred to as the ‘second pillar’ of legalization, will come later. The second phase involves the launch of regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs. The pilot programs will permit cannabis producers, retailers, and customers to participate in a public policy experiment that allows legal cannabis purchases and sales. The purchases and sales will yield data and research that national lawmakers and regulators can use to eventually craft national commerce laws and rules.

National cannabis sales, similar to what is currently in place in Canada and Uruguay, are not permitted for European Union member nations due to agreements that members are bound by. For many years, those limitations made it trickier for member nations to know which components of legalization should be included in legislation. Thanks to Germany’s legalization efforts, there is no more mystery, and countries know what will withstand any European Union scrutiny or potential legal challenges.

Given Germany’s standing in European politics and industry, it is virtually guaranteed that some amount of European Union member nations will soon adopt all or part of Germany’s cannabis policy model. Leaders in the Czech Republic have already indicated that they will pass a similar measure shortly after Germany implements legalization, and once legalization proves to be successful in Germany, it will add momentum for continental reform on a level that Europe has never seen before.

Germany is now the leader of a growing coalition in Europe of countries that want to reform European Union agreements to permit national adult-use sales. Just because the European Union currently prohibits such activity does not mean that it must be that way forever. When the coalition reaches critical mass, and there are more nations that want to reform agreements than there are nations that want to cling to failed public policy, continental reform will be achieved in Europe.

Cannabis legalization in Germany, and the domino effect it will create on the European continent and beyond, will be a major topic of the upcoming International Cannabis Business Conference in Berlin on April 16-17th at the Estrel Berlin Hotel. The conference is the first major cannabis event to take place in Europe after legalization goes into effect in Germany at the start of April. It’s going to be a truly historic event. Buy your tickets now before the event sells out.

Soft Secrets