Close this search box.

German Legalisation ‘Not Feasible In The Short Term’, But Cannabis As A Medicine In Germany ‘Here To Stay’

Yesterday Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) said it no longer expected a fully legalised cannabis market to be rolled out in the near future.

According to German political news publication Der Speigel, the SPD, part of the country’s ruling ‘traffic light’ coalition, has said it believes ‘comprehensive legalisation is obviously not feasible in the short term for reasons of European law’.

The news comes just weeks after the Health Minister Karl Lauterbach made headlines by stating his feedback from the EU was ‘very good’, and he expected to publish his draft law in a few weeks.

While this will come as a blow for many businesses and investors positioning themselves to capitalise on the promise of an adult-use market, others operating within its medical cannabis space are breathing a sigh of relief, after threats of major reform ultimately came to nothing.

Changes to medical cannabis framework

Earlier this month, Business of Cannabis reported that the G-BA was set to announce major changes to the country’s medical cannabis framework, potentially making it far more difficult for patients to have their prescriptions reimbursed.

Under the proposals put forward in October 2022, the G-BA would have made medical cannabis the very last option for patients, who would have needed to prove that they have tried and failed to be treated with alternative medicines, while extracts would have been heavily favoured, with the prescription of cannabis flowers needing to be specially justified.

More crucially, general practitioners without additional qualifications would have been able to prescribe medical cannabis in exceptional cases only, further reducing access.

However, in the hearing held on Thursday, March 16, the G-BA rolled back on almost all its heavily criticised proposals, in what has been described as a ‘win’ for patients, doctors and the industry at large.

The Co-founder and Managing Director of German medical cannabis pharmaceutical wholesaler AlephSana, Boris Moshkovits, explained: “In essence, the new regulation is following more or less the framework of the initial regulation.”

After ‘intense discussions’ at the hearing, the two ‘critical points’ on GPs’ right to prescribe and questions regarding the mode of delivery remained unchanged, other than ‘one sentence added in the regulation’.

According to Mr Moshkovits, this could lead to ‘more complicated access’ to medical cannabis, as prescribers are now required to check if finished products like Sativex, Canames or Epidyolex could be prescribed instead of dried flower or extract.

“This is a crucial point for patients with reimbursement, as they (or more so the prescriber) must argue that dried flower or extract can help them better. For patients paying out of pocket, nothing should really change.

“Another rather positive development is that patients in a critical condition, after surgery and in palliative care have to hear back on the cost reimbursement within three days and can only be refused for important reasons. That will probably mean easier access for these patients.”

Cannovum’s CEO Pia Marten told Business of Cannabis: “I think I can speak for myself, Cannovum and probably for the entire medical cannabis industry when I say that we’re very pleased with the outcome of the directive.

“We’re pleased that they actually heard all those doctors and patient advocates, and made sure that access to cannabis-based medicines is still there… another key takeaway for me was that the G-BA directive really emphasises patient safety.

“I think there’s also a need to make sure that patients are cared for in light of upcoming legalisation. I think it’s an important sign that medical cannabis is here to stay in Germany, and they do not disregard it just as a recreational drug. I think this will also highly impact what is going to happen in the recreational market.”

‘Very good feedback’

Before a meeting with EU counterparts in Brussels on March 14, the German Health Minister told the press that he had received ‘very good feedback’ from the European Commission over his proposals for legalisation, amid concerns it currently does not comply with international law.

He said that a bill which ‘conforms to European law’ will be announced over the next few weeks, sparking a spate of anticipation and speculation across the industry.

Others were cautious of attributing too much weight to the announcement however, suggesting that this was simply ‘expectation management’.

Cannovum’s Chief Marketing Officer Klaus Madzia said he believed this was Mr Lauterbach’s effort to balance pushback from the EU with keeping his domestic constituency on side.

“In all honesty, we want to see legal text. I think the whole industry is just really excited and wants to see legislative language as soon as possible. The industry, the investors, the community, the patients, everybody wants to see legislative language on the table. I think that’s our main concern.”

Ms Marten raised concerns that the upcoming bill would simply be ‘another placeholder’, lacking any concrete legal indications for the EU to properly scrutinise.

“There’s a high degree of likelihood that there’s going to be another placeholder, and the EU will go around in circles and again say ‘that’s great, but we can’t really give you any kind of definite statement if you don’t include language that’s going to be turned into law’.

“This will also further open discussion with other European countries that would also like to legalise cannabis as a recreational drug. I’m sure all of them have different opinions.”


A day before the G-BA hearing, a separate hearing of the Health Committee in the Bundestag saw experts and industry stakeholders discuss the prospect of immediate decriminalisation in Germany.

With the SPD’s announcement that full legalisation is now unlikely to happen in the near future, decriminalisation is looking like an increasingly likely alternative.

In its statement earlier this week, the party said it will support Mr Lauterbach ‘and the federal government by taking practical steps towards legalisation’, which includes decriminalisation and self cultivation.

Last year the Left (Die Linke) parliamentary group submitted a draft law that advocated for the decriminalisation of cannabis via an amendment to the Narcotics Act (BtMG).

Under their proposals, which were debated on March 15, 2023, adults would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or resin, cultivate up to three female plants for personal or community use, and keep a year’s harvest from those three plants.

German cannabis lawyer Kai-Friedrich Niermann, who sits on the board of LEAP Germany, an NGO that advocates for a more liberal drug policy, helped draft this resolution alongside Jugendrichter Müller.

He told Business of Cannabis: “The parliamentary groups of the traffic light government did not want to bring forward decriminalisation, because they fear that, otherwise, legalisation will get stuck halfway.”

However, the legal introduction of a commercial recreational cannabis industry is now ‘dragging on’ longer than the government had initially anticipated, ‘without there having been even any improvement for cannabis consumers’.

“This is now also recognised by the traffic light groups, so that presumably with the draft law from the Ministry of Health in March 2023 a Plan B solution will be presented.

“First, decriminalisation and home grow and collective home grow will be made possible, and in a second part of the law, the commercial route will be regulated – the latter with transition periods and concessions to EU law.”

Related Posts

Related Posts


Related Posts

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Related Posts

Subscribe to our mailing list to receives daily updates!

We won’t spam you


Browse by Tags




© 2023 Prohibition Holdings Ltd. All Rights Reserved.


Are you sure want to unlock this post?
Unlock left : 0
Are you sure want to cancel subscription?