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Germany Scales Back Cannabis Legalization Plans: This is Why

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There’s been a lot of excitement in the cannabis space about Germany’s plans to legalize recreational cannabis, this being the biggest economy in the EU. In October last year Germany’s Health Minister Mr. Karl Lauterbach presented to the cabinet the proposed framework for full-scale legalization of cannabis, signifying that it was just a matter of time. But even then, there were valid reservations concerning how Germany would be able to do this considering that it is subject to the UN treaty as well as EC obligations. Things must have come full circle because last week Mr. Lauterbach announced that Germany was scaling back on its legalization plans and was coming up with a “good proposal that protects general health as well as the safety of young people.”  Mr. Lauterbach will announce the phased plan to be presented to the EU by the end of the first quarter of 2023. 

This is why this news is not surprising.

Germany is a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 which was issued to combat international drug trafficking and to limit the possession, use, and  production  of narcotics (such as cannabis) to medical use and scientific research. 

While most people assume that there’s no exemption under which signatories to the UN treaty can legalize cannabis for non-medical uses, Michael Krawitz (US air force Veteran) argues here that there is a loophole in article 2 paragraph 9 that can make this possible. If anything, Canada is a signatory of the convention and in 2018 they legalized cannabis fully, this is four years later. 

EU Membership has more serious consequences

While Germany is a member of the EU, Canada is not. Germany has to comply with all the three international drug control treaties as a member country of the European Commission (EC). In other words, Germany needs approval from the EC to roll out its cannabis plan which should demonstrate that the country will not be in breach of any of the major drug treaties. 

One of the arguments that Germany made in the previous plan was that the country would be able to meet the demand locally without having to import from other countries. In other words, there would be no international trade for recreational cannabis involving Germany. Bearing in mind that Germany is a Schengen country and borders nine countries in the Schengen area. Such a move to limit cross border trade  could impact other Schengen countries. It seems like Germany has not been able to convince the EC on how they would be able to go around this.  

What options exist for Germany?

It seems that Germany will be forced to take a “slow-fade” rather than a radical approach to legalization. This is actually what the Dutch did. You decriminalize rather than legalizing directly. Germany might go on to launch pilot programs and allow homegrows in the meantime, this will not require any approval from the EC. With time, recreational weed will be fully legal in the  Deutschland.


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.

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