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Germany’s Government Seeks To Launch Marijuana Sales Pilot Program Through Regulations Instead Of Another Bill, Report Says



Germany’s government is moving forward with the second phase of marijuana legalization to create a pilot program for commercial sales—through an administrative process, rather than having lawmakers pass a separate bill to enact the reform as was initially expected, according to a new press report.

While it’s long been assumed that legislators would need to introduce and pass complementary sales legislation to fulfill the second “pillar” of legalization, the federal government is apparently taking a rulemaking approach that may speed up implementation.

Marijuana legalization was implemented under a bill that the Federal Ministry of Health spearheaded and went into effect at the beginning of last month. So adults are now able to possess and cultivate cannabis, in addition to joining cooperatives that are expected to launch in July where they could access the plant. But there’s currently no commercial framework for sales.

According to Tagesspiegel Background, however, the law that’s already in effect also provides regulatory discretion to build upon the initial reform. That is, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture is empowered to establish rules to create a commercial pilot program so adults can buy cannabis in certain jurisdictions without any additional legislative action.

Of course, that could also mean that any reform that’s implemented could be more easily reversed by a future administration. But in the short-term, the process for sales could be expedited.

Agriculture officials have reportedly circulated a letter soliciting input on possible regulations to allow for retail sales under a pilot program, with comments due by May 10.

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. But with legalization in effect, there’s been increased pressure to expedite that process.

Meanwhile, the Bundesrat representing individual states previously tried to block the now-enacted legalization proposal last September but ultimately failed.

Despite that, members of the Bundesrat ultimately reached a deal with Lauterbach and other government ministers and declined to refer the cannabis legislation to a mediation committee that would have delayed implementation by six months.

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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 enacting 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 multiple countries, including the U.S., 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 U.S. 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 that was released in 2022 found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’s (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.

Former DEA Head Says Marijuana Rescheduling ‘Reflects The Reality’ Of Public Support For Reform

Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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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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