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German Health Minister Announces Details of Legalization Draft

German lawmakers have presented official plans to make cannabis possession and sales illegal. Karl Lauterbach (Health Minister) spoke in Berlin at an Oct. 26 press conference. Lauterbach said that next, the Legalization Proposal will be submitted to the European Union Executive Commission. It will then be reviewed to see if it meets EU standards. Finally, final approval from the Bundestag. German Bundestag. If it passes muster, the legislation proposal will proceed “on this basis” if it is approved, according to Associated Press.

Lauterbach described the current legislation “could be a model for Europe,” although it wouldn’t take effect until at least 2024. A revised draft is likely to be submitted in the first quarter 2023.

In order to prevent illegal sales, cannabis must be grown only by licensed cultivators and sold only at licensed retail outlets. Residents can grow up to three plants at home and may purchase and possess up to “20 to 30” grams of cannabis.

Lauterbach spoke out to explain the proposal’s nature in relation to existing cannabis laws in Europe. “This would be, on the one hand, the most liberal cannabis legalization project in Europe, and on the other hand it would also be the most tightly regulated market,” he said. Safety is one of the main driving forces. “We don’t want to expand cannabis consumption but to improve the protection of youth and health,” he said, according to The Guardian.

Although the former health minister opposed legalization of cannabis, he accepted that current laws worked. Lauterbach says that there are 83million people in the country, with approximately 4 millions of these having consumed cannabis by 2021. A quarter of the country’s young adults aged 18-24 had previously tried cannabis.

Lauterbach mentioned that Germany has a very different approach than its northern neighbour, the Netherlands. “What we have learned from the Dutch experience is that we don’t want to do it that way,” he explained. “We want to control the entire market.”

In the end, it is not planned to allow cannabis consumers on-site at marijuana retailers. Additional restrictions would apply to dispensaries. They cannot be found near schools or stores where cannabis can also be sold. German cannabis products are expected to meet certain quality requirements.

Lauterbach said the government hasn’t decided if it wants to require a tax on top of the normal sales tax, stating that the product shouldn’t be more expensive than black market products.

According to business owners such as SynBiotic Chief Executive Officer Lars Mueller, the reform plan is “like winning the lottery,” he said, as stated by Bloomberg. “When the time comes, we’ll be able to offer franchise-like models for cannabis retailers, in addition to opening our own stores.”

German Bundestag used May to pressure its Health Department by threatening to decrease its funding and if it didn’t start to develop a proposal on legalization.

More than 200 people attended hearings held by the German government in June on reforming recreational cannabis. On Oct. 19, Lauterbach announced the country’s plans to create a reform bill, and an early draft of German cannabis legislation was leaked by the RND newspaper group. Early drafts stated that the THC content of products would not exceed 15% for individuals over 21 years old, or 10% for persons aged between 18 and 21, while residents could grow up to two plants at their homes.

In December 2021, Malta was the first country in Europe to legalize adult use cannabis. Germany may follow in their footsteps (medical marijuana has been legalized in Germany since 2017).