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Germany’s Cannabis Bill Passes With Large Majority

In a milestone moment for European cannabis, Germany has officially passed its cannabis bill following months of intense debate and a number of holdups.

Germany’s CanG bill was voted through the Bundestag today after a long and troubled political journey, meaning the possession of up to 50 grams of cannabis for personal consumption will now be legalised… on paper.

While the cannabis industry and the bill’s political proponents have rightly hailed this as a landmark achievement, the bill is not yet home and dry.

CanG will still have to be approved by the Bundesrat, which doesn’t have the power to block the bill entirely, but could enable the bill’s growing list of opponents to delay its rollout.

What happened?

This afternoon, the German parliament held the second and final readings of the CanG bill. After an expected lively debate, CanG was passed with 406 voting in favour, and 226 voting against.

You can read our live Twitter summary of the debate as it happened here. 

The Federal Minister for Health, Karl Lauterbach, began today’s debate by laying out the core goals of the bill, to stop the black market and ensure the public safety of Germany’s youth.

Reiterating that the current policy is not working, citing a 50% increase in cannabis consumption, Mr Lauterbach said ‘we are putting our heads in the sand’, but this bill would see Germany ‘tackle the problems head on’.

Compared to previous debates, the arguments focused more heavily on the issues surrounding the black market and the staggering number of prosecutions related to cannabis, and less on the protection of health.

While impassioned arguments were made on both sides of the aisle, they stayed fairly neatly along party lines.

The bills’ usual opponents, the CDU/CSU and the AfD, both of which put forward an amendment for the bill to be blocked, made the usual arguments against the bill.

The CDU/CSU’s Stephan Pilsinger called the current government a farce, alleging that they only focus on cannabis and gender policies, adding that while working on a psychiatric ward, he saw the damage cannabis could cause to the youth.

In a dramatic exchange, a member of the FDP highlighted an article from 2017 in which Mr Pilsinger was promoting his own beer brewery, stating: ‘You only live once!’.

To laughter and applause from the Bundestag, Mr Pilsinger was asked why he can be liberal for one drug when it pleases him but not another.

In defiant response, he asked what drug would be next to be legalised, LSD or cocaine. As a parting statement, Mr Pilsinger suggested that his party was going to win the next election and make cannabis illegal once again.

Industry reaction

Stephen Murphy, CEO of Prohibition Partners:

“There is no straight road in the path to legalisation, even in a country that boasts the great autobahn, the pace of this cannabis bill was in gridlock at stages. Next up is The Bundesrat, and no doubt there will be more watering down of the original vision and ambition, but it is better to be on the inside of the tent I suppose. Other EU countries must now take note, of what will be the question most will be asking.”

Dr Stefan Meyer, President of the German Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW):

“The German cannabis industry congratulates the members of the Bundestag for this landmark decision. Today represents a milestone, not only for the many people who have been fighting for a different cannabis policy for decades, but above all for the millions of consumers.

“This day is also a boost for the possibilities in the field of medicinal cannabis, from which patients should also benefit in the future. Much has been achieved, but we have not yet reached our goal. Further improvements are needed, and this day is only an important interim step for both medical cannabis and the industrial hemp sector. Above all, a great deal of commitment and dedication is now needed to develop the all-important “Pillar 2″ as quickly as possible. As the cannabis industry, we are ready for this. Today gives the German cannabis industry the courage to further develop Germany as a business location.”

Juan Martinez, Head of Curaleaf International, says:

“The removal of cannabis from the narcotics list is a significant development and we look forward to a successful event at the Bundesrat to get this program in place. All eyes have been on Germany for a long time and the potential domino effect this may have on other European markets in the near future is not to be underestimated. Many EU countries have problems with illicit cannabis use and have previously stated they are looking to follow in Germany’s footsteps with an option that is safe and legal. But whether they do, and how quickly this might happen, is up for debate.

“For Germany, the regulatory environment remains strict and robust, but this further step to legalisation will now allow for wider insurance coverage and remove administrative burdens for prescriptions. As a result, we expect to see significant (but gradual) growth in the medical cannabis market which has been underpenetrated to date. With around 300,000 medical patients (approx. 50% covered by statutory health insurance), this represents 0.4% of Germany’s population. After today’s news, comparing with other medical markets as a benchmark we believe there is the potential for the German market to grow up to 10-fold over the next few years.” 

Kirsten Kappert-Gonther, German Parliamentary member for The Greens:


Business of Cannabis will be bringing you the latest reaction from the industry as it comes through. 

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