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What the partial legalisation of cannabis could mean for Germany

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What the partial legalisation of cannabis could mean for Germany
A person lights a joint of cannabis. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

On Friday the Bundestag is set to vote on legislation allowing the personal use of cannabis -- with numerous rules. What will be allowed if the draft law passes?


The German government in August 2023 approved a draft law legalising the purchase and possession of small amounts of cannabis for recreational use, despite criticism from opposition politicians and judges.

The bill, which will go through parliament on Friday, is expected to come into force this year.

Under the proposed legislation, possession and personal cultivation of certain quantities will be permitted for adults starting April 1st. 

Clubs for non-commercial cultivation, so-called "cannabis social clubs" will furthermore be allowed starting July 1st.

Cannabis clubs anticipate a boom in new start-ups

The umbrella organisation of German Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCD) is expecting a boom in new clubs if the new legalisation is approved.

"I assume that we will have 3,000 or even 4,000 clubs in Germany within a year," the association's chairman, Steffen Geyer, told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) on Thursday.  

READ ALSO: German 'cannabis clubs' flourish as legislation looms

There are currently around 300 to 350 groups that are in the process of founding a club or are just waiting for the law to come into force.

According to the draft law, "cultivation associations", colloquially known as cannabis clubs, are to be permitted.


These are clubs for adults in which up to 500 members residing in Germany grow cannabis together and supply it to each other for personal consumption - with a maximum of 25 grams of cannabis per member per day and a maximum of 50 grams per month. 

The clubs must be organised as non-commercial associations and require a permit that is valid for a limited period of time. 

In its draft bill, the German government assumes that there will be 1,000 cultivation clubs in the first year after the law comes into force and an increase of 500 in each of the following years.

Cannabis in Dresden

Martin Reuter, head of the Sanaleo shop for CBD products in Dresden's Neustadt, holds a cannabis flower for sale in his hands. Cannabis clubs around Germany soon hope to be able to consume the product on their grounds. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Robert Michael

Personal use to be permitted

In future, anyone over the age of 18 and over will be allowed to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for personal use. 

Three live cannabis plants are to become legal in one's own home and, according to an amendment, up to 50 grams of cannabis for personal use. 

Public consumption is to be prohibited in schools, sports facilities and within sight of them - specifically within 100 metres as the crow flies around the entrance area. 

No later than 18 months after the law comes into force, an initial assessment is to be made available on how it affects the protection of children and young people, according to the draft law.


Controversy over law

On Thursday, German Association of Judges warned of a massive overload on the judiciary system as a result of the amnesty regulation provided for in the law. 

"The judiciary nationwide is expecting more than 100,000 files to be reviewed again in the event of the planned retroactive remission of sentences for cannabis offences," said Sven Rebehn, Federal Managing Director of the Association of Judges, to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

There are more than 10,000 cases pending at Cologne District Court alone. 

The centre-right CDU/CSU has called on the members of Germany's coalition to vote against the proposal.

Tino Sorge, health policy spokesman for the CDU parliamentary group, furthermore told the Rheinische Post on Thursday: "I appeal to my colleagues in the traffic light coalition: Vote against this law on Friday. Stop this irresponsible project."

The draft law has also attracted critics from both sides of the debate - whether cannabis activists who have called it too restrictive, or health experts who say that it will lead to risky behaviour.

READ ALSO: Why is Germany's cannabis draft law so controversial?


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