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German Officials Circulate Draft Bill For First Part Of Marijuana Legalization Plan Among Cabinet Members



A top Germany health official has submitted a draft bill to legalize marijuana possession, cultivation and social clubs—the first of a two-part reform framework—to government cabinet officials.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach shared details about the legalization plan last month, and on Friday he distributed the legislative text to cabinet officials to consider before finalizing the bill and sending it to lawmakers.

“Promise kept. Comments welcome,” Lauterbach said in response to news coverage about the latest development, according to a translation.

While the draft legislation is not yet publicly available, sources confirmed to RND that the proposal would allow adults to possess up to 25 grams of marijuana and grow up to three plants for personal use. It would also permit cannabis social clubs where growers could distribute cannabis products similar to those in Spain and Malta.

Lauterbach said last month that adults over 21 years of age would see a purchase limit of 50 grams a month via the clubs, and sales to adults between 18 and 21 would be limited to a total of 30 grams within a month.

Under the framework, there would be a limit on THC content, though the specifics are to be clarified later, and there would be a ban on advertising for the associations or for cannabis in general.

On-site consumption would not be allowed at the clubs, though they could distribute up to seven seeds or five cuttings per month to each member to be used in their own home cultivation.

While German officials have apparently backed off original plans to establish a national commercial marijuana market, the expectation is there will eventually be a second, complementary framework to allow cannabis sales at retailers in select jurisdictions as part of a pilot program that would allow the country to assess further reform over five years.

Specifically, officials would study the impact of the shops on consumption trends and the illicit market. Localities would need to opt in to allow the stores to operate.

Germany will seek sign-off on that sales aspect of the bill from the European Union (EU). The possession and home grow language would not be subject to the body’s review.

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Formal legislation detailing the government’s previously announced framework was initially set to be released by the end of the first quarter of 2023, but that timeline was extended “due to scheduling reasons” as officials worked to revise it in order to avoid a potential conflict with international laws.

Lawmakers who have pushed the government for far-reaching cannabis legalization policies reacted mostly positively to last month’s announcement, though some did point out areas they’d like to see improved.

Kristine Lütke of the FDP, for example, said the framework “is a great first step” but that it is “too restrictive” with respect to THC limits and edibles, and that there should be more widespread allowance of commercial sales throughout the country.

Kirsten Kappert-Gonther of the Green Party also decried the lack of “a clear commitment to edibles,” noting that they “contribute to harm reduction compared to inhalation.”

Lauterbach, the health minister, said in March that German officials had received “very good feedback” from the EU on the prior reform framework and would be making revisions to the plan before formally introducing a bill in the legislature.

Germany’s Federal Cabinet approved the initial framework for a legalization measure late last year, but the government wanted to get sign-off from the EU to ensure that enacting the reform wouldn’t put them in violation of their international obligations.

The framework was the product of months of review and negotiations within the German administration and the country’s “traffic light” coalition government. Officials took a first step toward legalization last summer, kicking off a series of hearings meant to help inform legislation to end prohibition in the country.

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

The visit came about two months 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 that was released last year found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

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