What Germany Legalization Means for Europe?

Stephen Andrews
07 Apr 2024

Germany has courageously stepped out of its cannabis prohibition era. The country is now the biggest member of the European Union (EU) to have modernized its marijuana policy, permitting personal use and home cultivation for those aged 18 and above. Even though the bill is a watered-down version of the original German legalization plan, it will have a long-lasting impact on Europe.

The new German legislation on cannabis is certainly poised to move things around and make an impact for the rest of Europe. It’s not the type of policy reform that will facilitate the instant birth of weed tourism as it happened with Thailand, but it's sure to act as an energy booster for lawmakers in neighboring countries and beyond. 

German lawmakers crafted what they say is “partial” legalization, and in the first year and a half authorities will closely monitor what happens on the ground. The observation period will determine how the path is paved for the future. 

Even with its “limited” nature—cannabis will be accessible through social clubs, not pharmacies—Germany is now a country with one of the most liberal laws on the use of the therapeutic plant.  

Only two other EU members have settled the legalization case: Malta and Luxembourg. But those legal markets are miniscule. 

Malta has legal cannabis clubs in place, but they are too few. Much more insights can be collected from Germany where social clubs for cannabis users are scheduled to launch in July. 

Cannabis experimental programs are also active in Switzerland and Holland. The results from the pilots will help officials in these two countries to determine how they proceed further. While Germany’s legalization might do little to influence their policies, it’s a wake up call for lawmakers in other countries like the United Kingdom and France, where upgrading the old laws is lagging behind. 

New German Bill on Weed May Prompt Domino Effect

Since Germany is the biggest European country to introduce cannabis reform, its legislation will likely serve as a blueprint for countries in the region. 

With the current legal framework, financial gains are in close reach for those German entrepreneurs who want to tap into the market potential of home cultivation or personal consumption accessories. 

Germany is the most populous country in the world to change the rules on cannabis. It’s home to 83 million people, which is nearly twice more than the populations of Canada, Uruguay, Malta and Luxembourg combined together. Those are the four other countries with the most liberal cannabis laws. 

An economic powerhouse, Germany is also in the top five economies in the world. These facts alone are enough that many others will look at how the legal cannabis landscape unfolds in Germany. 

The effect of the German cannabis reform will be most directly felt in central Europe where the country is situated. Should everything goes well, Czech ministers have already unveiled intentions to align their cannabis law with the German one, possibly connecting the two markets. 

But even on the outskirts of the continent, such as in Spain, where cannabis use is largely tolerated but not officially legal, lawmakers will be tempted to initiate revision of legislation. 

The German case proved that it’s possible to introduce cannabis reform even when there are many voices who oppose the very idea. Activists can now act with greater confidence, aware that they can overcome any obstacle created by opponents to legal marijuana.

The success of each new cannabis reform in Europe is determined by previous success. Countries with new marijuana policies are likely to collaborate and form coalitions with a final goal to rethink wider EU politics. 

It’s only logical to anticipate that in the next few years, the group of legal nations in Europe will continue to grow with a main mission to enhance the regional market, bring new economic opportunities and subdue the black market. 

Within a decade, the situation may be similar as in the United States today. Where a good half of Europe’s population can say they have access to legal and safe adult-use cannabis products. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

- Marijuana for Personal Use Now Legal in Germany 

First Results from Swiss Cannabis Pilot Programs Are Here

- Dutch Cannabis Experiment Soon to Enter New Phase

Stephen Andrews