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Germany’s Marijuana Legalization Bill Is Officially Signed Into Law And Will Take Effect On Monday



A bill to legalize marijuana nationwide in Germany has officially been signed into law, with the reform set to take effect next week.

Bundesrat President Manuela Schwesig signed the legislation on Wednesday, the last step to enactment. Usually German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier would sign legislation, but because he’s currently away on vacation, that responsibility was handed down to the head of the legislative chamber representing individual states.

This comes one week after members of the Bundesrat reached a deal with Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and other government ministers and declined to refer the cannabis legislation to a mediation committee that would have delayed implementation by six months. Instead, the law will go into force on Monday as planned.

The Bundestag passed the marijuana legalization measure last month. The Bundesrat previously tried to block the proposed reform in September but ultimately failed.

Effective April 1, adults will be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis and grow up to three plants for personal use. Then, beginning July 1, adults could join “social clubs” where they could buy up to 25 grams of cannabis, with a cap of 50 grams per month. That cap is 30 grams for members under 21 years old.

Social clubs cannot be located near schools or playgrounds, and each jurisdiction could have only one club for every 6,000 residents. Clubs will be limited to 500 members and will need a a social club permit, which would be valid for up to seven years with the possibility of receiving an extension.

There will be an official analysis of the effects of legalization on youth safety that must be completed within 18 months of enactment under the newly signed law.

Officials are eventually planning to introduce a complementary second measure that would establish pilot programs for commercial sales in cities throughout the country. That legislation is expected to be unveiled after its submitted to the European Commission for review.

Last month’s floor vote in the Bundestag came weeks after leaders of the coalition government announced that they’d reached a final agreement on the legalization bill, resolving outstanding concerns, primarily from the SPD.

A final Bundestag vote on the legalization bill that was initially planned in December was ultimately called off amid concerns from SPD leaders.

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Lawmakers had already delayed their first debate on the legislation, which was ultimately held in October, ostensibly due to the conflict in Israel and Palestine. They also pushed back a vote scheduled for November as supporters worked on improvements to the bill.

At a meeting in December, the health minister took questions from members, some of whom oppose legalization. At several points, he pushed back against lawmakers who suggested that legalization would send the wrong message to youth and lead to increased underage consumption, saying their arguments “misrepresented” the legislation.

Lawmakers also previously made a raft of adjustments to the bill, mostly designed to loosen restrictions that faced opposition from advocates and supporters in the Bundestag. They included increasing home possession maximums and removing the possibility of jail time for possessing slightly more than the allowable limit.

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.

The framework was the product of months of review and negotiations within the German administration and the traffic light coalition government. 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.

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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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