Slow Arrival of Cannabis Social Clubs in Germany

Stephen Andrews
05 Jul 2024

Germany is entering another stage of its cannabis legalization plan. July 1 marked the activation date for cannabis social clubs, which are ideated as the places where German weed users can supply legal buds. But for now this is only in theory. Club investors and potential owners are due to start the process where they can apply for a work permit, and a lot of that process is unclear so far.

If you thought that by July 1 Germany will have fully functional social cannabis clubs where weed users can register and supply buds, then you are wrong. The activities to set up clubs are just beginning. Club investors and managers are yet to obtain legal approval to launch operations. As it is now, cannabis clubs in certain German regions may not roll out even by the end of 2024. Even though most of them are ready to farm marijuana large-scale, or already have active calls for members for the public. 

Like with many other things in Germany, there are a lot of details in the law, which means cannabis club investors and managers will have to handle a great deal of paperwork. The clubs will be governed regionally, but in some German states it remains debatable which state bodies are responsible for guiding the process or monitoring the work of the cannabis social clubs.

Cannabis Social Clubs in Germany Active on Paper 

The cannabis social clubs in Germany are imagined as regulated associations where each club can accommodate up to 500 members. Each club will be able to cultivate marijuana and distribute up to 50 grams of cannabis per member on a monthly basis. 

The clubs were supposed to launch on July 1, but in practice, this date merely designates when investors and managers of the future ventures can apply for permits. And it will take some time before they are given green light to start cannabis grow operations. 

“Although applications can be submitted from July 1, it is completely unclear when permits will be granted and cannabis will actually be availble - that could take months,” a spokesperson from the German Free Democratic Party told German media, The Local reported

By law, German regulators should use a maximum of three months to decide whether they grant or not a permission to an applicant that wants to launch a cannabis club. Applications will be reviewed at regional level, but for some regions the licensing process still looks murky. 

For example, in Berlin, there is uncertainty about which city districts are supposed to oversee licensing. 

“The federal states are extremely ill-prepared for this. There will certainly be a mid three-digit number of clubs applying for a license. How long this will take and how many of them will be successful is still impossible to predict,” said Steffen Geyer, the head of the umbrella organization of German Cannabis Social Clubs, Deutsche Welle reported

The lack of clarity has postponed plans of many club investors. Many of them are waiting to start accepting members. Nobody can fully dive into activities, because they don’t know when they will have a license to work in a legal manner.   

While many of the things regarding opening the cannabis clubs in Germany are unknown and unclear how they will unfold, at least some of the details are very well communicated. 

Here is what you need to know about Germany cannabis social clubs: 

  • Each cannabis club can only have up to 500 members.
  • Members will pay a monthly or annual fee to sponsor club activities.
  • Members need to be German residents who are 18 years or older.
  • Members aged 18-21 can only access 30 grams of cannabis per month.
  • Members above 21 years can access up to 50 grams of cannabis per month. Although, in two rounds, getting 25 grams max in each round. 
  • The clubs are solely for farming and distribution. Meaning, smoking cannabis will not be allowed on the premises of the club or in the close proximity of the club. 
  • The work of the clubs will be overseen by regional governments as well as the state agencies for nature, environment and consumer affairs, and the chamber of agriculture. 

Until cannabis social clubs become a reality in Germany, the most convenient way for weed users to legally source fresh buds is to cultivate marijuana plants themselves. It is permissible by law, as of April 1, to grow up to three plants at home for personal use. Both German residents and non-residents are allowed to homegrow. Cannabis seeds and clones are both legal, too. 

The legal limit how much cannabis you can possess on your person is 25 grams. Penalties for possessing slightly more than that is not considered a criminal offence, but rather an administrative violation.

Germany is currently in the ‘first phase’ or ‘first pillar’ of its cannabis legalization plan. The next phase foresees commercialization of cannabis as seen with pilot programs currently active in the Netherlands and Switzerland. It will all depend on how successfully ‘the first pillar’ is handled. 

Also read on Soft Secrets: 

What Germany Legalization Means for Europe?

First Legal Weed Arrives in Dutch Coffeeshops

Is Switzerland’s Weed Experiment Successful?

Stephen Andrews