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German Marijuana Clubs Can Now Officially Launch Under Country’s Legalization Law, Though States Have Varying Rules



German cannabis clubs can now officially begin applying to launch operations—the latest step in the rollout of the country’s marijuana legalization law.

While local officials began accepting applications for prospective marijuana cooperatives on Monday, it may still be some time before members can start obtaining cannabis under the country’s legalization law, with individual states free to set certain rules for the facilities.

It became legal in Germany for adults to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal use in April, but there’s been no means of legally obtaining cannabis otherwise.

The social clubs—which can each have up to 500 members and sell up to 50 grams of marijuana per person each month—represent the latest iteration of the law.

The cannabis social clubs “are an important part of the fight against the black market,” Carmen Wegge, a lawmaker with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said in a social media post on Monday, according to a translation. “Even if you don’t have a particularly green thumb, a CSC is certainly a good alternative.”

Green MP Kirsten Kappert-Gonther called the social club portion of the legalization law taking effect “another milestone of a reason-guided” policy, adding that it “represents an elementary step towards curbing the black market.”

Advocates and stakeholders are still awaiting the government’s plan for the second pillar of the law that is expected to provide for a broader commercial sales model.

Last month, German lawmakers also approved a series of changes to the country’s marijuana legalization law , imposing restrictions related to impaired driving and giving states more authority to set limits on cannabis cultivation within their borders.

The amendments were the result of an earlier agreement between the federal government and legislators that was made in order to avoid a months-long delay in the implementation of the legalization law .

One of the changes gives states greater flexibility to set restrictions on cultivation at cooperatives that are now able to start dispensing cannabis to members. The regional governments will be able to impose limits on the size of the cooperative’s canopies.

In Bavaria, for example, the health minister said the state’s policies will be “as restrictive as possible,” with clubs not expected to open until this fall at the earliest, Augsburger Allgemeine reported .

A separate measure that federal lawmakers adopted last month sets a per se THC limit for impaired driving. The legislation—which has proved more controversial given a lack of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of such policies—makes it so drivers would be considered impaired if they have more than 3.5 ng/ml of THC in their blood. The amendment also bans driving if a person has used both marijuana and alcohol, regardless of the amount.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who has led the government’s cannabis legalization efforts, told members of the Bundestag in December that “we are currently examining” the commercial sales plan as part of the second pillar. But with legalization in effect, there has been increased pressure to expedite that process.

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The Federal Council representing individual states previously tried to block the now-enacted legalization proposal last September but ultimately failed.

While Germany’s Federal Cabinet approved the initial framework for a legalization measure in late 2022, the government also said it  wanted to get signoff from the EU to ensure that implementing the reform wouldn’t put them in violation of their international obligations.

Officials took a first step toward legalization in 2022, kicking off a series of hearings meant to help inform legislation to end prohibition in the country.

Government officials from several countries, including the US, also met in Germany last November to discuss international marijuana policy issues  as the host nation works to enact legalization.

A group of German lawmakers, as well as Narcotics Drugs Commissioner Burkhard Blienert, separately visited the US and toured California cannabis businesses in 2022 to inform their country’s approach to legalization.

The visit came after top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with recreational marijuana legalization.

Leaders of the coalition government said in 2021 that they had reached an agreement to end cannabis prohibition and enact regulations for a legal industry, and they first previewed certain details of that plan last year.

A novel international survey released in 2022 found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ (UN) drug control body recently reiterated that it considers legalizing marijuana for non-medical or scientific purposes a violation of international treaties, though it also said it appreciates that Germany’s government scaled back its cannabis plan ahead of the recent vote .

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.


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