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Cannabis Associations in Germany Face New Restrictions in Push to Prevent Commercialisation

The German government is reportedly set to push through legislation that would tighten the already strict rules around cultivation associations.

According to a leaked draft bill, seen by local news publication Augsburger Allgemeine, the new rules would seek to deter any commercial activity emerging from the clubs, which are set to begin selling cannabis to members from July 01.

Despite the government passing CanG last month, with the first aspects of the new cannabis reform coming into effect earlier this month, it is understood that the tightening of the rules is intended to ensure that no aspects fall foul of international law.

Cannabis Associations 

The Cannabis Act (CanG) legislates for the creation of cannabis associations, or ‘clubs’, that can supply up to 500 members with a maximum of 50 grams of cannabis per month.

Based on current prices on the illicit market, this could see millions of euros change hands at the cultivation clubs.

However, due to international laws, a key aspect of these associations is that they must be ‘not-for-profit’, which also means they are unable to hire full-time employees or employ third parties.

In the days leading up to the final vote in the Bundesrat, the federal government made an offer to the federal states in a scramble to allay fears and ensure the bill would pass unhindered by a mediation committee.

It offered a number of key concessions relating to the upcoming cultivation associations, attempting to soothe concerns that they would impose increasing burdens on local authorities.

These included ‘regular controls’ being brought in, rather than annual inspections, alongside the prevention of ‘large scale cultivation areas’ to stop any entities from growing into commercial operations.

It now appears the government is seeking to make good on its promises to states and push through legislation to realise these points.

What will change?

The new bill, should it be successfully passed, will ensure that several cultivation associations will not be allowed to cultivate in the same place or on the same property.

This is intended to make it easier for authorities to monitor the associations and prevent them from getting too large, restricting them to small-scale, non-commercial structures.

It would also grant more power to the federal states to refuse permits if they are ‘located in a structural association with or in the immediate vicinity of cultivation areas or greenhouses of other cultivation associations’.

In another blow to businesses hoping to capitalise on the new market, growing associations would also be stopped from commissioning one commercial provider with several services not directly related to cultivation, a move aimed at preventing businesses from offering package solutions for growers.

Furthermore, local authorities will be granted more powers to monitor cultivation associations and already have the authority to take action against possible rule violations.

According to CanG, the upper limit someone can be fined for breaching the rules is €30,000, with a lower limit of just ​​€5, LTO reported.

It is effectively up to the states to determine the amount a person is fined based on the individual offense, meaning that in the future, its likely that the amount you’ll pay will depend on where you’re caught.

Bavaria, which has been staunchly opposed to the cannabis bill since it was first introduced, became the first state to adopt a catalogue of fines for CanG infringements.

This includes a fine of between €500 and €1000 for anyone caught possessing more than the legal amount of cannabis, and €1000 for anyone caught consuming in front of children.

Other states are reportedly looking to base their own catalogue of fines on Bavaria’s, a state which has been striving to implement the law as restrictively as possible.

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