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Germany Passes Landmark Cannabis Bill: Bundesrat Votes In Favour Of CanG, With Law Set To Come In On April 01

Germany’s Bundesrat (Federal Council) has voted to pass the CanG bill without calling in a mediation committee, meaning the law should come into effect on April 1, 2024.

In perhaps the most important vote on cannabis liberalisation in European history, the German Bundesrat made its decision this morning on whether to pass the CanG bill, or send it to the mediation committee, where it was widely expected never to emerge.

The bill will legalise the possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis for adult-use. It will also enable citizens to grow up to three cannabis plants at home and have up to 50 grams of cannabis flower on their property. Cannabis cultivation associations would also be legalised, while public consumption will be allowed, though strict rules remain around where this is acceptable.

Crucially, the bill will also remove cannabis from the list of narcotics, a change widely expected to have a significant impact on the country’s already thriving medical cannabis market.

It has been a long and difficult path for CanG, which has been severely watered down, delayed numerous times, and fought at every turn.

Despite strong opposition from the member states, the European Union’s most populous nation has succeeded in its ambitious goals, paving the way for cannabis reform globally.

The debate

This morning’s session saw a number of empassioned speakers make their case to the Bundestag, the majority of whom sought to encourage states to vote for a mediation committee to be called.

The Minister President of Saxony-Anhalt, Reiner Haseloff (CDU), began the debate, unsurprisingly making the case against the bill.

He suggested that the bill would ‘kill people’, boost the illicit market, and cause an increase in driving accidents due to people driving under the influence.

He added that the Federal Health Minister and architect of the bill, Karl Lauterbach, was ‘tricking’ people when stating that calling a mediation committee would kill the bill. Saxony Anhalt, therefore, would abstain from the vote.

Similar incendiary statements were made by his CDU colleague, Minister President of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, who compared cannabis with crystal meth and stated that the bill was against democracy, again announcing he would not vote to approve the bill.

Bavaria’s Judith Gerlach (CSU), raised the commonly held concerns around the extra work this would impose on the judiciary and law enforcement services. She added that this was a ‘pandoras box’ that needed to be stopped in the mediation committee.

Brandenburg’s Minister for Justice, Susanne Hoffmann, said that ‘her anger’ had driven her to speak on this issue, stating she believed the bill would fail to impact the illicit market and would see cannabis consumption increase significantly.

The bill’s opponents kept coming, with North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister for Justice stating that while he was not against legalisation, he was against the amnesty clause due to its potential to overwhelm the judiciary, adding that a delayed amnesty rule should have been included. This was echoed by Berlin’s Senator for Justice and Consumer Protection, Dr. Felor Badenberg.

Mr Lauterbach made the first positive case for the bill, stating that youth cannabis users have already doubled despite its illegality and asking whether the current system was working.

“If we don’t manage this, this is going to be a good day for the illicit market as the status quo continues to operate and target our kids.”

Road to the vote

In a scramble to try to steer the bill away from the mediation committee, the federal government made an offer to the states earlier this week, offering a number of key concessions on contentious points.

Crucially, the government has chosen to keep the controversial amnesty clause, a measure many states fear will overload their judicial systems and the key reason the vote was expected to be so close.

Its so-called ‘protocal declaration’ did, however, offer more money for addiction prevention, another key issue raised by state representatives.

This would see the Federal Ministry of Health ensure that an additional €6m in funding will remain available beyond 2024 to expand cannabis prevention schemes.

Doubling down on prevention efforts, the government also promised to provide €20m to support a centre for prevention work, going ‘beyond previous plans’.

More changes were made to the rules surrounding cannabis cultivation associations, with ‘regular controls’ being brought in in an effort to reduce the burden on local authorities, rather than annual inspections.

Furthermore, ‘large scale cultivation areas’ will also be excluded to prevent cannabis associations from growing into commercial grow operations, while outsourcing activities to third parties will also be banned.

It has been argued, however, that these promises are only politically binding, and not legally binding, so their impact on the vote is unclear.

For a full overview of how the vote became so crucial for Germany’s cannabis bill, read our coverage here. 

Industry reaction

Karl Lauterbach (X)The fight was worth it, legalization of cannabis is coming on Easter Monday! Please use the new opportunity responsibly and help protect children and young people. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the black market today

Kirsten Kappert-Gonther (X) – We did it! Prohibition is over! On April 1, 2024, we will make history and, together with the federal states, end the prohibition of #Cannabis , thereby enabling more youth and health protection. Thanks to all who have contributed! #CanG


Business of Cannabis will publish reactions from key industry voices as they comes through. 

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