Germany Legalises Recreational Cannabis

Liz Filmer
28 Feb 2024

Germany has become the third European country to endorse the recreational use of cannabis. The bill presented by the German coalition will come into effect from April 1st and will allow for limited possession and cultivation of cannabis. 

German lawmakers approved the partisan legalisation on Friday, Feb. 23 with 407 votes in favour of reform and 226 votes against the motion. 

The bill had the backing of the three parties of the German coalition administration: the centre-left Social Democratic Party, the business-minded Free Democratic Party, and the environmentalist "Greens". The plan was heavily criticised and opposed by the conservative Christian Democratic Union. 

The new legislation virtually removes cannabis from the authorised list of banned substances and allows adults of legal age to retain up to 50 grams at home, and 25 grams in public. Home cultivation of a maximum of three plants for personal use is also authorised. 

Germany’s Health Minister, Karl Lauterbach, believes that the new bill will help suppress the black market. The statute will enable people to transition from buying illegally to purchasing weed from registered vendors. 

The new law will additionally enhance the quality of cannabis consumed by medicinal users and young people. 

“Child and youth protection is at the heart of this law. Over the past decade consumption by children and young people has steadily increased.” Lauterbach, in parliamentary debate before the vote.

However, the bill has not come without its critics and opposers.
 “The coalition government is sending a completely wrong signal to our society, and acting as the state’s drug dealer. The government is playing with the health of our young people.” Tino Sorge, health spokesperson for the opposition.

“Cannabis has potential for dependence; around 10% of regular users of cannabis have an addiction,” stated the Head of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt.
Another common assertion in the debates is that it will be contesting to control the legal market.

“We will have a certain control effort, but within reasonable limits, and I believe that this will quickly settle down". Health minister Lauterbach said in TV interview.  

A survey by YouGov released before the vote indicated that almost 50% of Germans are in favour of legalising cannabis. 

The poll found that 47% of respondents were "somewhat or completely in favour" of toppling the ban. 11% of respondents reported not having a strong opinion on the legalisation question. 

The German coalition government reached this turning point earlier in February following a lengthy period of knocks and modifications on the original legalisation plan. The approved bill illustrates a greatly scaled-back version of the initial proposal but is historic nevertheless.

Germany is now the third EU member state to introduce legal regulation on cannabis. Malta did so first in 2021, and Luxembourg in 2023. 

The Netherlands is likewise on track toward legalisation, with a governance endeavour that is aspiring to replace illegal cultivation and the black market with a legal market including the country’s current legislated coffee shops.

Germany to Legalise Cannabis in April

Liz Filmer