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German Bundestag Pressures Health Department for Cannabis Reform

The German government took a quick turn in the events. Bundestag’s The budget committee has pressed Karl Lauterbach (German Minister of Health) to submit a bill for recreational marijuana reform in this year’s budget for adoption by 2022. 

Failure will result in him losing a portion of his ministerial budget.

The committee, now in negotiations over all parts of the government’s annual spend, decided to temporarily suspend public relations funds for the Department of Health if the recreational cannabis bill is not passed this year. Lauterbach just stated that he would introduce such legislation by the summer, rather than in autumn. Although it’s not clear which decision was made first, it seems obvious that Traffic Light Coalition decided to prioritise a very important issue.

This is an important step both locally and internationally in legalizing cannabis. The use of pressure tactics in German politics to force legalization is quite unusual (they are very genteel according to U.S. standards). It is clear, however, that the German government has the ability to move very quickly, regardless of the delays in bureaucratic processes.

American Congress, particularly the Senate side on the Hill should pay attention.

This isn’t like Washington holding budget negotiations hostage to major issues. It’s just nobody has been desperate enough, or incentivized enough, to use it for cannabis reform before.

Germans Are Coming

Daily, the excitement is building on both sides of the German-German discussion. Even in preliminary forms, deals are already being struck and all sorts of projects are on the horizon.

Reciprocal reform, which is currently essentially on the legislative agenda, helps to establish realistic market estimates. There is little chance that the market will be opened before 2023’s last quarter. Most likely, the market will open in 2024’s first and second quarters. However, decriminalization may occur a little faster.

There are, of course, many considerations to all of this—not the least of which is administration and paperwork creation (hopefully this time via efficient, non-crashing digitized processes) for getting a move on.

This is a very important development, given that Lauterbach is also charged with digitalizing German healthcare. It is difficult to imagine a digitalized healthcare system without fax machines. Smart move to utilize cannabis as a means of digitalizing the healthcare system is using it. It’s even smarter when, as part of the reform package, it reduces insurance company reimbursement burdens.

The German health care system is currently in a huge budget crisis. The introduction of recreational marijuana reform could help to alleviate some problems. Start with income tax. Naturally, there are many other factors that can be considered. BundestagThe criminalization of legitimate cannabis users who are not treated or processed by the system quickly is a growing problem. There are three to five month wait times before a new appointment is made for either an orthopaedist or a neurologist, and this includes large cities like Frankfurt. Whether such doctors decide to prescribe cannabis, or the patient’s insurer will cover it, are two different questions.

The legalization of recreational cannabis will help to relieve some administrative, political, and bureaucratic pressures. It’s also important financially.

Its Significance

Germany appears to be moving quickly to legalize cannabis, which will hopefully wake up the rest of the globe. It all starts with the United States.

The impact of the reforms will also be felt across Europe almost immediately. However, reforms will still be hampered by more conservative countries. Emmanuel Macron was reelected and promised that he would not allow recreational drug use in his office. The wise French leader recognizes the direction of the winds and is an effective politician. It has a European-wide, unifying impact.

Portugal, Luxembourg and Spain might also be quick to move to export products and crops to a lucrative market. Greece is enjoying a boom.

The debate about which cannabis grades can cross border will continue to be fascinating. German cannabis could be the first market for recreational marijuana. This would give the medical cannabis bid holders a significant (and unjustifiable) advantage. It would also potentially give Cansativa an unbelievably unfair edge (if not addressed pronto)—namely they currently hold the monopoly distribution position, granted by BfArM, for all German cannabis of medical grade at least, grown in Germany.

This must be resolved immediately. There will be marching in the streets if this is not done. Given the pressure and thus speed Lauterbach is now under (and given who has the lion’s share of access to his ears on this issue) it is very likely that a lot of issues (and people) will be thrown under the bus for the benefit of the rich, white, men’s club now attempting to exert their brand of control over the conversation even now.

Home grow is another topic that’s fast becoming a hot topic. 

Whatever the details (such as keeping foreign GACP high-THC cannabis from Germany for a specific period), and what it is likely to happen, Germany is on track to reform.

How it will be appropriated, tweaked, and amended is anyone’s guess. However, it is clear that the levers are moving now, and with a highly incentivizing twist to turn Germany’s largest economy into one the major cannabis markets around the globe.