Top German officials will unveil a revised plan to legalize marijuana nationwide this week.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said in a Twitter post on Tuesday that “there will be new cornerstones tomorrow” for the cannabis reform legislation that the government has been preparing.
He and Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Cem Özdemir will discuss the marijuana proposal at a press conference on Wednesday.
So wird es sein! Mit @cem_oezdemir gibt es morgen neue Eckpunkte, die Legalisierung von Cannabis: sie kommt doch. https://t.co/zxjPPniW5P
— Prof. Karl Lauterbach (@Karl_Lauterbach) April 11, 2023
“The legalization of cannabis: it’s coming,” Lauterbach said.
The legislation was initially set to be released by the end of the first quarter of 2023, but that timeline was extended “due to scheduling reasons” as officials reportedly worked to revise it in order to avoid a potential conflict with international laws.
There have been reports that the bill is being scaled back from the nationwide commercial cannabis framework that the government previously released, with details signaling that officials planned to take a bifurcated approach to the reform.
The government’s revised plan would reportedly allow adults to possess and grow cannabis for themselves on a limited basis and would let growers organize and distribute marijuana at so-called cannabis clubs, similar to those in Spain and Malta.
Then there would be a sales component, according to the unverified reports. But it’d be limited to creating regional pilot programs, placing dispensaries that could sell marijuana in certain areas of the country so that the government could assess broader commercial legalization.
Germany would seek sign-off on that sales aspect of the bill from the European Union (EU) if it has been revised as such. The home grow language would not be subject to the body’s review.
Lauterbach hasn’t confirmed whether the reporting on the changes is accurate, but that should be cleared up on Wednesday when the official announces the “new cornerstones.” Amid speculation about the possible revisions, the health minister seemed to push back last week, saying cannabis would be legalized “throughout Germany.”
However, RND reported on Tuesday that the government would be pursuing the scaled-back plan, with new information about the specifics of the proposal, including that it would allow consumers to possess up to 25 grams of marijuana and grow up to three plants for personal use.
The cannabis clubs would also be included, as well as the regional commercial sales pilot programs. The limited trials would be operation for five years, and the country would simultaneously carry out scientific studies on how the shops affect consumption trends and the illicit market.
Endlich! Morgen stellt Gesundheitsminister @Karl_Lauterbach neue Eckpunkte zur #Legalisierung von #Cannabis vor! Ich bin sehr gespannt! https://t.co/nj3Dj6rqya
— Kristine Lütke MdB (@kristine_lutke) April 11, 2023
Lawmakers in the coalition government, meanwhile, have been critical of the reported move to narrow the scope of the legislation.
Under the earlier framework that the government had released with the coalition’s backing last year, adults 18 and older could buy and possess 20-30 grams of marijuana at federally licensed stores and possibly pharmacies.
They could also grow up to three plants for personal use, with rules on enclosing them to prevent youth access.
All ongoing criminal proceedings related to offenses made legal under the reform would be suspended and closed upon implementation.
Marijuana would be subject to the country’s sales tax, and the plan calls for an additional “special consumption tax.” However, it doesn’t specify that number, instead arguing that it should be set at a rate that’s competitive with the illicit market.
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Lauterbach said last month that German officials had received “very good feedback” from the EU on the prior reform framework and would be making revisions to the plan before formally introducing a bill in the legislature.
Germany’s Federal Cabinet approved the initial framework for a legalization measure late last year, but the government wanted to get sign-off from the EU to ensure that enacting the reform wouldn’t put them in violation of their international obligations.
The framework was the product of months of review and negotiations within the German administration and the country’s “traffic light” coalition government. Officials took a first step toward legalization last summer, kicking off a series of hearings meant to help inform legislation to end prohibition in the country.
A group of German lawmakers, as well as Narcotics Drugs Commissioner Burkhard Blienert, visited California and toured cannabis businesses last year to inform their country’s approach to legalization.
The visit came about two months after top officials from Germany, Luxembourg, Malta and the Netherlands held a first-of-its-kind meeting to discuss plans and challenges associated with recreational marijuana legalization.
Leaders of the coalition government said in 2021 that they had reached an agreement to end cannabis prohibition and enact regulations for a legal industry, and they first previewed certain details of that plan last year.
A novel international survey that was released last year found majority support for legalization in several key European countries, including Germany.
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