IN a major break from the European era of prohibition both Germany and Czechia are set to legalise the use of cannabis.
Following months of talks with the European Commission the neighbouring countries appear to have negotiated a suitable legal pathway to wholesale cannabis reform.
While Germany’s cannabis legalisation is not what its Traffic-Light Coalition had initially envisaged when it took office in November 2021 the significance of its achievement cannot be underestimated.
Unveiling its plans earlier today German Health Minister Dr Karl Lauterbach said: “This should be a model for Europe and the EU as a whole…(our aim is to work) with EU states to encourage cannabis politics and trade.”
Presenting the paper with Dr Lauterbach the Food and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir said: “This is not an easy project due to the controversial debate. The tackling of International and EU laws is a complicated situation.”
He went on to say the aim of the legislation was to promote youth safety, adding that efforts to ‘combat cannabis have failed as consumers have increased and the black market has increased’.
Germany’s initial plan had been for cannabis to be sold in specialist shops to the over 18s, however following European Commission objections based on the international drug conventions and rules around the free movement of goods in the European Union it has had to tether these initial plans.
Instead, the federal government has proposed a two-pillar model for controlled recreational cannabis supply to adults, focusing on quality control, consumer health, and minimizing the black market.
The first pillar involves private and community, non-commercial home cultivation within strict legal frameworks.
Cannabis will be legalised for private use with all those over 21 permitted to possess up to 30 grams and cultivate up to three plants for personal consumption.
There will also be an unspecified number of pilot ‘scientific’ studies in various locations – on an opt-in basis – throughout the country. These will allow for the sale of cannabis through registered shops.
These are set to last five years and will be monitored to determine the impact of legal sales on consumption and the black market. The product will come from the commercial supply chain.
Czechia Moving Too
Last week the Czech Republic said it had approved a new drugs strategy to run until the end of 2025 that includes the introduction of a strictly regulated market in cannabis.
The exact rules of the action plan will be set by an expert group, Prime Minister Petr Fiala said after a cabinet meeting last week.
According to Mr Fiala, the new strategy represented a balanced approach to drug policy and corresponded to international experience in the field.
The measures are intended to minimise risks and to limit children’s and minors’ access to addictive substances, he said.
Czechia Chairperson of the European Pirate Party Mikuláš Peksa told Business of Cannabis that it was aiming to introduce licensed sales of cannabis through registered retail outlets.
“While cannabis and hemp have been used across Europe and the rest of the globe for centuries, their prohibition in the United States in the 1930s culminated in the classification of cannabis as a harmful narcotic in the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
“The 1992 reform of Germany’s Narcotics Law effectively decriminalised cannabis in Germany with some four million people out of a population of 83m said to be regular cannabis users. Medical cannabis has been available in the country since 2017.”
Germany’s Proposed Rules On Cannabis Social Clubs
- Not-for-profit associations may, under narrow, clearly defined legal frameworks, jointly grow cannabis for recreational purposes and sell it to members for their own consumption. The members should participate as actively as possible in the association. The participation of employees of the associations in the cultivation is permitted, however, commissioning third parties with the cultivation is excluded.
- The framework conditions for handling are regulated in a separate law.
- In addition to the harvested recreational cannabis, members may also receive from the association seeds and cuttings for self-cultivation.
- It is being examined whether and how seeds and/or cuttings for private cultivation may be obtained from the associations at cost price without membership in an association being a prerequisite for this.
- Approval and monitoring are carried out by state authorities with regard to compliance with quantity, quality and youth protection requirements and with spot checks and on-site visits.
- Personal data collected by the associations in connection with the sale of recreational cannabis, seeds and cuttings to members may not be passed on to unauthorized third parties or used for other purposes. Membership in several associations is prohibited.
- Fines, withdrawal of registration or fines/imprisonment for multiple violations are possible.
- Cultivated and harvested quantities are geared towards meeting demand. There are reporting and documentation obligations for the quantities produced and delivered. There is a ban on the import or export of recreational cannabis.
- Membership fees cover the cost price, graded according to the quantity supplied (possibly with a basic flat rate and an additional amount per gram supplied).
- The number of members per association is limited to a maximum of 500 with a minimum age of 18 years and domicile or habitual abode in Germany. The number of associations can be limited by population density.
- The association can only be managed by persons whose reliability has been verified. The association is managed according to the principles of association law.
- Personal liability on the part of the association’s board of directors in the event of financial loss or the violation of official requirements should only occur in the event of intent or gross negligence.
- The procurement of seeds for the (first) cultivation in the associations is made possible. The possibility of importing seeds from third countries is being examined.
- The sale of the harvested cannabis (flowers) is only permitted to members; no disclosure to third parties; max. 25g cannabis per day, max. 50g per month, max. 7 seeds or 5 cuttings per month. Distribution to adolescents under the age of 21 is limited to an amount of 30g per month, in addition to a limit on the permitted THC content (limit to be clarified). This should be reflected in the variety selection.
- It is being examined whether and how seeds and cuttings can be exchanged free of charge between associations for quality assurance purposes.
- Quality specifications apply to community cultivation (in particular a ban on additives or admixtures such as tobacco or aromas, specifications on pesticides, no synthetic cannabinoids).
- A delivery is only in pure form (flowers or resin) in neutral packaging or loose with attached information about the product (variety, including its usual average THC content and content of other cannabinoids such as CBD), dosage and application as well as the risks of consumption and advice centres.
- Consumption on the association’s premises is prohibited, as is public consumption near schools, day-care centres, etc. and in pedestrian zones until 8 p.m.
- At the same time, there is a ban on selling alcohol, tobacco or other stimulants and intoxicants.
- Access is only permitted to adults with a strict age control requirement.
- Conditions for the protection of minors and prevention apply: To be appointed by the association
- Youth protection, addiction and prevention officers have proven expertise; there is a mandatory cooperation with the local addiction prevention or counseling centre and a minimum distance to schools, day care centres or similar.
- There is a general advertising ban for the associations and for cannabis. Factual information is permissible.
- Minimum protective measures (e.g. burglar-proof premises, fencing) prevent access by unauthorized third parties.