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Cannabis Legalization in Germany: Current Law & Predictions for the Future

The German flag outside of the Reichstag building. This image is part of a blog that discusses Germany legalizing adult-use cannabis, permitting the possession, cultivation, and membership-only clubs, with potential amnesty for past offenses.

As of April 1, 2024, Germany has legalized adult-use cannabis under limited terms, marking a pivotal shift in its drug policy. Although the new legislation does not permit retail sales of adult-use cannabis, residents will now be allowed to possess, consume, and cultivate cannabis for personal use, as well as join membership-only cannabis clubs.

“Legalization in Germany is a significant milestone for the global cannabis industry,” said Warren Bunch, Co-Founder of CannaSpyglass. “We’re excited to witness the international spread of cannabis legalization and anticipate seeing significant growth in these emerging markets.”

Germany's decision to legalize adult-use cannabis builds upon its earlier legalization of medical cannabis in 2017 and positions the country as a leader in cannabis innovation within the European Union (EU). This move follows similar measures recently adopted in Malta and Luxembourg – signaling a growing trend towards broader legalization in Europe.

Current Cannabis Law in Germany

Germany's new cannabis law allows adults aged 18 and over to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis in public and cultivate up to three plants at home. Additionally, residents may store up to 50 grams of dried cannabis flower in their private residences.

While the law does not provide a framework for retail cannabis stores, it does enable adult residents to join nonprofit “cannabis clubs.” These clubs may begin operations on July 1, 2024, and can have up to 500 members each. 

Club members may purchase up to 25 grams of cannabis per day, with a monthly limit of 50 grams. Those under 21 will have a reduced monthly limit of 30 grams. Residents can only belong to one cannabis club at a time, and club operating costs are covered by membership fees, which will vary based on individual consumption levels. 

The new legislation also includes an amnesty process to review and potentially overturn sentences for past cannabis-related offenses that are no longer considered illegal – possibly impacting up to 100,000 cases across the country.

The Future of Cannabis in Germany and the European Union

While more than 20 European countries have implemented some degree of medical cannabis legalization, Germany is one of the first to legalize adult use. Despite initial discussions about permitting commercial sales of adult-use cannabis, the current law does not include these provisions. This is likely due to Germany’s adherence to EU law and the United Nations 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which both prohibit the commercial sale of cannabis for recreational use.

As a result, the new law's economic impact is expected to be limited. However, there is optimism that adult-use cannabis retailers could be legalized in the future as the current program fosters trust within the country and internationally.

With this new development, Germany joins other European Union countries that have recently made progress toward adult-use cannabis acceptance. Malta set a precedent in 2021 by legalizing the possession, sale, and cultivation of adult-use cannabis, followed by similar legalization in Luxembourg in 2023. 

Several EU countries have also made progress towards the acceptance of adult-use cannabis, including the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal. The Netherlands has long permitted cannabis coffee shops since the 1970s, but the cultivation and sale of cannabis still remains illegal. In Spain, cannabis consumption at a private residence is permitted, but public possession is prohibited, while in Portugal, consumption and minor possession infractions are now treated as minor administrative offenses. As acceptance of cannabis continues to grow globally, more countries are likely to embrace adult-use cannabis in the coming years.

Although many details about the adult-use cannabis market in Germany are still to be determined, the future looks bright for this emerging market. Stay tuned to our CannaBites blog for additional updates about the German cannabis market and the global cannabis industry!

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