In November, Germany’s new ruling tri-lateral coalition announced its intention to legalise the sale of recreational cannabis. This moves away from ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel’s emphatic opposition to such a move throughout her decade-long chancellorship. So why now? And what benefits does this new government see in introducing this legislation?
Who are the new German Government?
The post-Merkel Government is formed of a trilateral coalition between the Social Democratic Party, the Green Party, and the Free Democratic Party, the so-called ‘Traffic Light’ coalition. At their head is the new chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Thus far they’ve positioned themselves as having a ‘progressive’ vision for Germany, with their proposed plans published under the title ‘Dare More Progress’. Amongst moves to phase out coal, allowing dual citizenship, and increasing the minimum wage, the traffic light coalition also announced plans to legalise the sale of recreational marijuana.
What is the current legal position on marijuana in Germany?
The use of cannabis in Germany is legal only for particular medical applications and this has been the case since 2017. It is illegal to buy the drug for recreational purposes, but the recreational use of it is not in itself illegal. The cultivation, sale, import and export of cannabis plants is legal. That being said, only 3 companies: Demecan, Aphria and Aurora have a license to cultivate it in Germany.
What are the proposed changes?
Germany will be the first European country to legalise recreational marijuana. Although the legal consumption of marijuana is associated with the Netherlands, in actual fact, its recreational use is only tolerated in certain contexts, and the production, purchase and sale of the drug still remains technically legal only in medical situations.
The coalition is looking to introduce ‘the regulated sale of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes in licensed stores.’ The sale of marijuana must only be in licensed establishments that are properly taxed and that are able to effectively control the quality and to whom it is sold.
In addition, the government will look to introduce expanded drug checking models alongside more stringent restrictions on how drugs and alcohol are marketed and promoted.
The government has also committed to reassessing the law four years down the line once they are able to clearly ascertain the social impact of the change.
Why legalise marijuana?
The new German government asserts that ‘the legalisation of cannabis… [will] allow us to have a regulated and taxed dispensary, controllable quality and effective youth protection through education.’
Other arguments in favour of the move are as follows:
What have the reactions been?
Many onlookers view this as a baseline shift which could prompt other European nations to also legalise cannabis. Although the first to do this in Europe, the US, for example, has already seen a number of states legalise cannabis.
It is anticipated that this legislation will accelerate an already fast growing cannabinoid sector. The announcement in November alone doubled the share price of Synbiotic.
On the other hand, critics of the move cite serious health and safety risks associated with the recreational consumption of the drug.