GERMANY’s draft cannabis law should be ready by the end of the year with the launch of its adult-use market looking increasingly likely in 2024.
Over the course of this month some 200-plus experts in addiction, medicine, law, and business are addressing five expert hearings to prepare for the planned legislative process.
Two of these – health and consumer protection and the protection of minors – were held last week, with a further three, looking at supply chains, control and licensing, and international experiences, due to conclude on June 30.
In an interview with German online news portal WEB.DE Burkhard Blienert, the Federal Government Commissioner for Addiction and Drugs, said these hearings would pave the way for legislation by the end of 2022.
He said: “The final event will take place at the end of June. The federal government will then draft a key issues paper. This is the preliminary stage for a bill that will then be presented to Parliament.
“We have agreed between the ministries involved that a first draft law should be ready by the end of this year, if possible. After that, the cabinet has to decide on it, and then it’s in the hands of parliament. I look forward to lively debates.”
Following last year’s federal elections a cannabis-friendly ‘traffic light coalition’ consisting of Greens, Social Democrats (SPD) and the Free Democrat Party (FDP) formed the Government.
At the time BusinessCann reported on a co-authored paper from Mr Blienert and respected German cannabis lawyer Kai-Friedrich Niermann which laid out a legislative pathway and anticipated the launch of a regulated adult-use market by April 1, 2024.
Mr Niermann says the current speed of progress means the dawning of Europe’s first adult cannabis market may surpass even these expectations.
Speaking to BusinessCann he said: “With the procedures now initiated, and a draft expected in October, the time plan we initially envisioned is still valid and it will be highly likely that legal sales will start on January 1, 2024, or even earlier.”
The opportunities the bill will present business loom large in the thoughts of German cannabis entrepreneur Pia Marten, founder of Cannovum, the first cannabis company to list on its domestic stock markets.
She said: “We are experiencing a significant milestone of the cannabis legalization right now: For the first time since prohibition, politicians, healthcare professionals and industry experts are coming together to seriously discuss how to actually implement the legalization of cannabis for Adult-Use.
“Personally, I see two major takeaways from the hearings. Firstly, our politicians are turning their words into actions which sends a very positive signal to the industry and consumers.
“They are taking the appropriate measures to understand the complexity of drafting a bill for the legalization. Making this bill draft involves many different ministries – Finance, Justice, Food and Agriculture, Labour and Social Affairs to name a few – and requires a full overview of each sector.
“Secondly, this forward movement gives businesses like Cannovum AG a sense of planning certainty regarding the recreational market. The sooner our government sets clear guidelines for recreational cannabis, the sooner we can scale our business to meet the big demand. All in all, I’m excited to be part of this paradigm shift and to expand Cannovum to the recreational market.”
Cannabis Supply Crunch
Mr Niermann believes one of the big issues the country faces is supplying the market from day one.
He said: “The demand for 400-600 tonnes of dried flowers (annually) has to be met somehow. It won’t be possible to cover that demand by domestic production, imports are necessary.
“Therefore you have to find like-minded nations with whom you can agree on International trade agreements, in legally modifying the regulations of the Single Conventions.”
Ways in which Germany can progress its cannabis liberalisation programme without transgressing international and European rules and regulations are proving a challenge.
However Mr Blienert addressed this point in his WEB.DE interview saying: “Health protection for consumers must be the focus. And nobody can have anything against health protection.”
He added: “In Europe as a whole, we have a debate about how to deal with cannabis. That is why we are also putting the international question on the agenda of the consultation process. We need a solution as to how the whole thing can be organized under European and international law.
“That will be a huge diplomatic effort for Germany’s Government authorities, also in regard to convince EU member states and officials that a licensed supply chain wouldn’t violate EU regulations.”
When both Canada and Uruguay enacted adult-use domestic cannabis markets they were threatened with sanctions from the International Narcotics Control Board, although no punitive measures have been taken.
In a recent report respected cannabis researcher and author Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, highlighted potential wriggle room in the Conventions to allow countries to pursue a cannabis compliant path, as reported by BusinessCann.