Authors

Dr. Daniel Tietjen

Partner

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Dr. Martin Jäger

Associate

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Authors

Dr. Daniel Tietjen

Partner

Read More

Dr. Martin Jäger

Associate

Read More

17 April 2023

Where are the new regulations on cannabis going? Decriminalisation in designated cannabis clubs and hesitant liberalisation by the state

  • Quick read

This briefing is an update on Dr Daniel Tietjen’s assessment of the first white paper on the decriminalisation of cannabis consumption.

After the Coalition Agreement included the plans of the new German government for controlled cannabis decriminalisation, the country has been waiting for the long-discussed legalisation of cannabis possession. As a result of the first white paper presented by Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach last year, the plan was adapted after discussions within the governing coalition and criticism from experts.

What regulations are envisaged in the updated white paper?

Pillar 1: Private consumption and cultivation

  • Non-profit associations would be allowed to cultivate cannabis for recreational purposes, purchase seeds and cuttings and distribute both to members for personal consumption. 
  • A maximum of 25g per day and 50g per month, or a maximum of seven seeds or five cuttings, may be distributed. The distribution to members between 18 and 21 years of age is limited to 30g per month and a maximum THC limit, which has yet to be discussed.
  • The limit of own possession without a penalty is raised to 25g.
  • A maximum of three plants may be cultivated by an individual person.
  • No other stimulants such as tobacco or alcohol may be distributed / sold.
  • Each association may have a maximum of 500 adult members who have their residence or normal residence in Germany. The number of associations may be limited according to population density.
  • The management of the associations must be led by a reliable natural person.
  • Consumption on the premises of the association is prohibited, as is public consumption near facilities relevant to children and young people, such as schools or day-care centres.   
  • The limits in road, ship and air traffic are to be reviewed by experts and adjusted if necessary.

Pillar 2: Model project for the state cultivation and sale of cannabis

  • Cannabis for human consumption is to be produced and distributed by state-approved and licensed companies and sold in specialised shops.
  • A model project is to be tested for a maximum of five years, starting from the fully established supply chain.
  • The model project is limited to an adult cohort of participants and a spatial component.
  • The model project will be scientifically supervised.

Summary and conclusion

With the present draft, Karl Lauterbach has clearly moved towards the widely expressed demands of some cabinet colleagues (in particular Food and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir, who helped draft the updated white paper) and those of associations and the public.
The focus has now shifted from a state levy. Instead, private cannabis consumption and possession in particular is to be declared exempt from punishment under certain circumstances - the so-called decriminalisation.
The establishment of cannabis clubs, which are allowed to distribute certain quantities of ready-to-consume cannabis, plant seeds and cuttings to their members, is very reminiscent of other European regulations.
By focusing on decriminalisation, Lauterbach and Özdemir take the wind out of the sails of the critics who, with regard to the once state-planned cannabis levy, insisted in particular on compliance with EU law and international treaties. The envisaged Pillar 2, namely the state levy, is to be tested in model regions for the time being and scientifically supervised. Any resulting findings are to be compiled together with the EU.
The timetable remains ambitious. Since the draft bill for decriminalisation has been announced for the beginning of April, we can expect it anytime soon.

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