Germany’s Coalition Government Reaches Deal on Weed Legalization

February 6, 2024 · High Times

The groups that form Germany’s coalition government struck a deal last week on cannabis legalization, setting the stage for the new law to take effect in the spring. 

Now, the proposal will be considered by the country’s parliament, with a vote expected later this month.

Zeit, a German publication, reported last week that the “government coalition made up of the SPD, Greens and FDP has agreed on the details of the legalization of cannabis,” and that the “law could come into force on April 1st, but must first be approved by the Bundestag and Bundesrat.” 

According to the outlet, Karl Lauterbach, Germany’s federal health minister, “is aiming for approval in parliament in the week from February 19th to 23rd.”

In a post on X last week, Lauterbach hailed the agreement by the groups within the coalition.

“The fight against the black market, decriminalization and better protection of minors will come as announced. The previous drug policy has failed, a new beginning,” Lauterbach said.

The agreement keeps the country on course that the so-called “Traffic Light coalition” laid out late last year

In November, the SPD, Greens and FDP said they had reached a breakthrough in their negotiations of the new cannabis law. 

“The #Cannabis law is coming! Finally: We are finally ending the failed ban policy! After intensive negotiations, there is now a law that focuses on youth and health protection, ends criminalization and is practical,” the Green Party’s spokesperson Kirsten Kappert-Gonther said in a post on social media at the time.

According to Forbes, the “path to legalization in Germany has encountered several hurdles,” including the coalition government having to “revise its plan, which initially involved the sale of cannabis, as it risked breaching EU laws.” Forbes reported that the coalition also “confronted criticism from opposition parties seeking to obstruct the proposed legislation,” as well as “internal dissent within the government, particularly from the SPD, emerged regarding the details of the bill.”

The outlet Legal Tribune Online said that the agreement last week signaled that “resistance from the ranks of the SPD parliamentary group against the Cannabis Act (CanG) has apparently been overcome.”

Late last year, Legal Tribune Online reported that “health politician Dirk Heidenblut MdB, who is responsible for the issue of cannabis in the SPD parliamentary group, announced over the weekend via social media that the final reading of the Cannabis Act (CanG), which was actually planned for the last week of the year, was taking place. does not come about.” 

“The reason: The leadership of his SPD parliamentary group expressed concerns about the set-up. The avowed legalization friend explained in a video that he could not understand this, but the implementation would now be postponed until next year. Heidenblut did not want to reveal any further details,” the outlet reported at the time. “The short-term veto of the SPD parliamentary group against the final resolution surprised not only the so-called cannabis community, but also the coalition partners.”

Kappert-Gonther said at the time that it was “extremely unfortunate that cannabis is not on the agenda so far,” and that passage of the reform “would have been possible.”

But last week’s agreement by the parties indicates that those disagreements have been resolved, and that Germany is now set to enter a new era of cannabis legalization.

In a statement, the leaders of the coalition said that the “regulations are a real milestone for a modern drug policy that strengthens prevention and improves health, child and youth protection,” as quoted by Legal Tribune Online.

According to Forbes, the agreement “clears the path for the legalization of cannabis for personal use, aligning with the impending vote,” and that, absent any additional delays, “Germany is poised to become the third European Union member state to legalize cannabis for personal use, following Malta and Luxembourg.”

“For the government coalition, the legalization of cannabis for personal use marks a significant milestone in modern drug policy, emphasizing prevention and improving health and child and youth protection,” Forbes reported. “However, the proposed legislation, introduced last year by Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, may undergo additional slight revisions to address concerns raised by the SPD, potentially involving the expansion and acceleration of monitoring and reporting obligations related to the illicit market.”

Forbes said that lawmakers “recently revised the bill to ease restrictions opposed by advocates and supporters in the Bundestag,” with changes including “raising home possession limits and eliminating the possibility of jail time for slightly exceeding the possession limit.”

“The government coalition also plans to introduce a complementary measure establishing pilot programs for commercial sales, set to be revealed after submission to the European Commission,” Forbes said, adding that, if the proposal passes the parliament in the next two months as expected, the ban on pot will be lifted by April 1, and that adults will be able to “grow cannabis at home and possess small quantities, while cannabis clubs will be allowed from July 1.” (Full Story)

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