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Cannabis Legalization: When Can You Legally Smoke a Joint?

Cannabis Legalization: When Can You Legally Smoke a Joint?

If the traffic light coalition has its way, cannabis should soon become legal in Germany in parts. Lauterbach has now presented its new key issues paper. From when smoking weed should be allowed and why it has failed so far.
Cannabis: Die Ampel-Koalition plant eine "kontrollierte Abgabe an Erwachsene".
Cannabis: The traffic light coalition plans a "controlled distribution to adults". | Image: Oliver Berg, dpa (symbol image)
Julius Bretzel

The Global Marijuana March 2022 took place in May last year. This revolved around a topic that polarized and has been discussed for a long time: should smoking be allowed in Germany? For many, cannabis legalization is overdue, while others warn of the health risks of the drug. The traffic light government announced in its coalition agreement that it would introduce "controlled sales of cannabis to adults for recreational purposes in licensed shops". Details and key points on cannabis legalization were last known and decided by the federal cabinet . So legalization is taking shape.

Cannabis legalization: Lauterbach wants a two-pillar approach

At a press conference, Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach (SPD), together with Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir (Greens), presented the key points for the planned legalization of cannabis. With a so-called "two-pillar model" legalization should get going. This should make cannabis use safer. "We want to fight the black market, we want to push back drug-related crime," said Lauterbach. But one thing is clear: the complete legalization of cannabis and the sale in shops is not planned for the time being.

According to the key issues paper, both the cultivation and the sale of cannabis should be carried out by so-called "cannabis clubs". In these, the purchase of a maximum of 25 grams should then be legalized. Within a month, quantities of up to 50 grams should then be allowed to be bought. And it should also be allowed to grow at home. Because according to the key issues paper, up to three cannabis plants should be allowed. Furthermore, it should then be tested how sales through licensed specialist shops work. However, this is only planned in model regions for the time being. ´

Cannabis legalization in Germany: when?

A timeframe for when the new cannabis regulation will come into force is not yet known. It is clear that it should be decided during the legislative period of the traffic light government. However, the release will not come all that quickly, also because many urgent problems have arisen due to the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis. It remains to be seen how soon the government will devote itself to allowing cannabis - but during a "turning point" that Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently proclaimed, legalization will not be a top priority. That's what the federal government's addiction and drug commissioner, Burkhard Blienert, called in an interview with the legal magazine LTO for example "two acute crisis situations that have political priority": the Ukraine war and the corona pandemic.

Then there is the bureaucracy: in Germany it takes around 175 days on average for the entire legislative process to be completed and a law to come into force. Some experts believe early 2024 is the earliest realistic date of legalization. Lobbyists do not expect the law to change before the fourth quarter of 2024. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FPD) had announced an introduction in 2023. Who will be right?

The pressure on Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) is also growing within the government coalition. The budget politicians responsible for the Ministry of Health want to persuade Lauterbach to implement cannabis legalization as quickly as possible – using an unusual means: the budget committee has decided that an amount of one million euros will be blocked for the ministry’s public relations work until the cannabis control law agreed in the coalition agreement is presented. That's what the Greens member of the Bundestag told Paula Piechotta RND .

Political voices on cannabis legalization

As Lauterbach writes on Twitter, preparations for cannabis legalization are in full swing. "The 'Bubatz consumption' should become legal and safer, but not increase," said Lauterbach. For children and young people, the risks would outweigh the risks. For adults, however, safe consumption is justifiable.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz had in the ARD to the audience question "Mr. Scholz, when Bubatz legal?" first with "Hm?" reacted. When the question was repeated, he replied with a smirk that preparations for cannabis legalization were now underway. That will come in this legislative period, the exact date has not yet been set.

Bavaria's Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) has accused Lauterbach and Scholz of downplaying the risks. "I am watching the course of the cannabis debate with great concern. The Federal Chancellor and the Federal Minister of Health do not seem to take the dangers associated with this drug seriously," Holetschek told the German Press Agency . Cannabis use poses a major health risk. He made it clear: "The federal government should therefore reconsider the course it has taken."

Will cannabis become legal forever?

According to the traffic light coalition agreement, the planned law is to be reviewed and evaluated after four years for "social effects". In addition, the regulations for marketing and sponsorship of alcohol, nicotine and cannabis are to be tightened. In order to prevent alcohol and nicotine abuse in the future, the three parties want to focus "on increased education with a special focus on children, young people and pregnant women".

The government also wants to focus more on drug-checking models. These include contact points where, for example, party-goers can anonymously have their illegally purchased drugs tested for quality and purity in order to be able to better assess the dangers. Meanwhile, industry representatives are demanding a purity law, just as is the case with beer.

Özdemir: Farmers are preparing to grow hemp

Özdemir said some time ago the Bild am Sonntag : "Many farmers are in the starting blocks to grow hemp." The Green politician is certain that the cultivation of hemp will start as soon as the Bundestag has approved legalization. So far, the cultivation of cannabis in Germany is only permitted if the plant is used for medicinal purposes.

Legalized cannabis: where to buy it then?

The legal cannabis should then be offered by licensed dealers. According to Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP), anyone who wants to sell cannabis for recreational purposes must prove knowledge of the drug and the risks associated with it. Pharmacies, for example, could serve as points of sale.

Overview: Sale, Possession, Use and Cultivation of Cannabis – What Should Be Allowed?

  • Sale for adults over 18 years
  • Sales should be controlled
  • Only sold in licensed stores, such as pharmacies
  • The cultivation of cannabis will most likely remain prohibited for all private individuals

Experts: Cannabis legalization violates EU law

Cannabis legalization is not undisputed and there are legal concerns about EU approval. European treaties, to which Germany is bound, stand in the way of legalization. That made one Analysis for the CSU health politician Stephan Pilsinger . According to the scientific service, the so-called EU framework decision of 2004 stipulates that every member state must criminalize the manufacture, offering, sale, supply and import and export of drugs - if these intentional acts were carried out without the appropriate authorization. The intentional, unauthorized cultivation of cannabis plants, among other things, must also be punished. The same goes for possessing or buying drugs. The impact of this finding on cannabis legalization is still unclear.