SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

How Germany’s next government is planning to legalise cannabis

After weeks of speculation, the parties in talks to form a new government have agreed on plans to legalise recreational weed, reports in the German media have revealed. Here's how they want to go about it.

Woman smoking cannabis
A demonstrator smokes a joint at a 'legalise weed' parade in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Annette Riedl

What’s happening?

Since October, the three ‘traffic light’ parties – so called after the party colours of the Social Democrats, Greens and FDP – have been hard at work thrashing out the details of a possible future government in Germany.

According to reports in Spiegel, they’ve now managed to agree on one crucial question: the legalisation of cannabis. 

It was no secret that all three of the parties were in favour of ‘freeing the weed’ ahead of the election. In fact, each of them had envisioned doing so in one form or another in their pre-election manifestos.

Nevertheless, there were clearly different visions on the table on how to do so, with the FDP’s Christian Lindner suggesting in October that prescriptions might be needed to obtain cannabis over the counter at pharmacies.

READ ALSO: Germany should make cannabis available at pharmacies not ‘coffee shops’, says FDP boss

In recent days, however, the coalition’s working group on health and social care has confirmed that the parties have managed to agree on a model for legalisation. The results of the negotiations were detailed in a report obtained by the Funke Media Group.

Are we talking about medical or recreational cannabis?

In this case, the parties are keen on legalising the recreational use of cannabis, which means using it to get high rather than for any medical benefits such as pain relief.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Germany since 2017, but recreational weed smokers have generally had to resort to purchasing it illegally on the black market or smuggling it across the border from the neighbouring Netherlands. 

Will Germany get its own Netherlands-style coffee shops?

Though nothing has been finalised yet, the latest media reports suggest that this is the type of model that Germany is looking to introduce.

“We are introducing the controlled distribution of cannabis to adults for consumption purposes in licensed shops,” the parties wrote in the negotiation paper seen by the Funke Media Group.

That means that cannabis users can purchase weed in specially licensed premises without needing a medical prescription of any kind. 

Amsterdam's red light district
Red Light Bar Coffee Shop in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Germany looks set to introduce licensed shops to sell weed in a controlled environment – much like in the Netherlands. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Oliver Berg

Opting for a licensed-shop model will allow the government to check the quality and contents of the products being sold – a process known as “drug-checking” – and also introduce measures to combat addiction and prevent underage drug use. 

At the same time, the parties want to tighten up regulations on marketing and sponsoring for alcohol, nicotine and cannabis.

“We always measure regulations against new scientific findings and align health protection measures with them,” the committee states in its report. 

The incoming government plans to conduct a review of the new policy after four years to assess its impact and make improvements. 

Why would politicians want to legalise cannabis? 

It’s no secret that legalising cannabis could be a smart financial decision for cash-strapped governments. According to recent estimates by Justus Haucap for the German Hemp Association, the move could bring in as much as €4.7 billion to the treasury each year.

This sum is largely made up of additional tax revenues, but also includes savings in the judicial system from no longer having to prosecute weed users. 

However, the three traffic-light parties say their motivations aren’t primarily financial. 

Instead, they believe controlled sales of cannabis would dry up the illegal black market and funnel weed through regulated channels, allowing products to be screened for harmful substances and enabling better protection of minors. 

READ ALSO: Why Germany could be on the brink of legalising cannabis

Vocabulary

Controlled distribution – (die) kontrollierte Abgabe

Addiction prevention – (die) Suchtprävention 

Protection of minors – (der) Jugendschutz

Black market – (der) Schwarzmarkt 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

LIVING IN GERMANY

Living in Germany: World Cup rainbows, pumpkin slaughter and a nation of savers

From unusual traditions at a world famous pumpkin festival to Germans' spending habits (or lack there of), we take a look at some of the big talking points of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: World Cup rainbows, pumpkin slaughter and a nation of savers

Where do Germans move to?

Many of our members are foreigners who choose to call Germany home. But what do we know about the Germans who move outside the country? According to official figures from last year, around five million Germans currently live abroad. And most of the Germans who emigrate – perhaps unsurprisingly – don’t go too far. Switzerland is home to the most Germans who choose to leave their country.

About 17,000 Germans took up residence there in 2021. Next in line is Austria – another German-speaking country. Around 11,000 Germans chose to live and work there last year.

But it’s not just the German-speaking places that attract Deutschlanders. In third spot for Germans emigrating abroad in 2021 was the United States – 8,400 Germans moved there last year. Meanwhile, just over 6,000 Germans took up residence in Spain, while around 5,000 each opted for Turkey, France, the United Kingdom, and Poland. 

Tweet of the week

All eyes are on the FIFA World Cup in Qatar – but it’s more than football that’s in the news. The world is watching the various protests going on against Qatar, over its treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community. German football commentator Claudia Neumann made waves for her choice of rainbow clothing. 

Where is this?

Photo: DPA/Ilkay Karakurt

The Ludwigsburg pumpkin festival (Kürbisausstellung) is slowly coming to an end after months! So what happens to the pumpkins? Well, a big “pumpkin slaughter” takes place at the Blühende Barock gardens where enthusiasts salvage what they can. Meanwhile, the seeds are usually auctioned off. 

Did you know?

With inflation at over 10 percent, it’s no wonder that many people in Germany are being more careful with their spending. A new survey released this week from the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) found that 63 percent of consumers have cut back their spending. The survey also found that more Germans are making long-term changes to their lifestyle such as buying less clothes and repairing goods instead of buying new ones. However, did you know that Germany has a reputation for saving, and making items go further? In fact, Germans are known for being a nation of savers rather than investors.

The Local contributor Aaron Burnett wrote in a recent article on investing: “It’s even apparent in the language – the German word for “debt” is ‘Schuld,’ which also means ‘guilt.’ During the euro crisis, ‘austerity’ was often called ‘Sparpolitik’ in German newspapers, or “the politics of saving”. Meanwhile, many Germans keep most of their money in savings accounts and avoid maxing out credit cards. 

Germany is also known for its second-hand culture and strong recycling ethic. Second-hand shops or platforms for selling items are common. You’ll also find that people leave their old clothes or books on their doorstep in a box with ‘zu verschenken’ (to give away) written on a sign. People can look through the items and take anything they want at no cost. 

SHOW COMMENTS