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Multiple German Parliament Committees Set To Consider Marijuana Legalization This Week Ahead Of Final Vote On Friday



At least eight parliamentary committees in Germany are set to take up a bill to legalize marijuana on Wednesday, setting the stage for expected votes on final passage on the floor of the Bundestag on Friday.

As lawmakers and government officials aim for the potential enactment of legalization in April, the scheduled committee hearings indicate that things are going according to plan.

This comes weeks after leaders of Germany’s so-called traffic light coalition government announced that they’d reached a final agreement on the legalization bill, resolving outstanding concerns, primarily from the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Here are the committees set to consider the Germany marijuana legalization proposal on Wednesday: 

The agenda for several committees this week also includes an opposing motion to “stop cannabis legalization” filed by the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said in a radio interview on Tuesday that there will “definitely” be sufficient support to get the legalization proposal enacted. “The law will go through the Bundestag,” he said. “There will definitely be an appropriate vote. We will get through this.”

Lauterbach, who has for months been the government’s lead on the cannabis plan, said that under legalization, the “probability is very high” that “the black market will become significantly smaller.”

“This has been achieved in Canada, and we will also be able to do this if we implement this consistently,” he said.

“We can hope that with this law we can end two-thirds of the black market, and in doing so we will solve a big problem, because the black market cannabis is now on the market in toxic concentrations that are very harmful,” the health minister said. “The criminal dealers specifically try to get children and young people addicted and then try to convert the users into other drugs… I believe that we are taking an important step away from a failed cannabis policy.”

There’s also at least one expected amendment for the Bundestag to consider concerning “tightened” provisions to evaluate the implementation of legalization provisions, according to a Legal Tribune Online reporter.

A final vote on the legalization bill that was initially planned in December was ultimately called off amid concerns from SPD leaders. Now it’s expected to reach the floor on Friday following committee consideration, with lawmakers taking up votes for second and third reading of the legislation for final passage.

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 recently 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.

The legislators further agreed to stagger the implementation of the reform, making possession and home cultivation legal for adults beginning in April. Social clubs that could distribute marijuana to members would open in July.

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.

Following the bill’s final reading in the Bundestag, it will go to the Bundesrat, a separate legislative body that represents German states. Members of the Bundesrat tried to block the proposed reform in September but ultimately failed.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Lawmakers in the Bundestag recently held a hearing in the Health Committee, at which opponents criticized some elements of the proposal. The body also heard a competing policy proposal from The Union, a political alliance of the Christian Democratic Union and Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), that would not legalize marijuana but instead “improve health protection and strengthen education, prevention and research,” Kappert-Gonther said at the time.

The health minister responded to early criticism of the bill from medical and law enforcement groups by emphasizing that the reform would be coupled with a “major campaign” to educate the public about the risks of using cannabis.

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 last year found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.

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