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German Courts Continue To Prosecute Hundreds Of Cannabis Businesses Despite Looming Legalisation

HUNDREDS of companies are still being hounded through the German courts for alleged breaches of the country’s strict cannabis laws – despite the country signalling its intent to imminently introduce adult-use legislation.

Just last month two German businesses failed in their attempt to overturn a ban on the sale of hemp and CBD products after a court dismissed their case.

The Administrative Court of Braunschweig aligned with previous judgements which concluded that products derived from low-THC hemp had potential ‘intoxicating’ properties.

The lawyer representing the appellant businesses believes there are ‘several hundred’ similar cases being processed in the country’s courts.

No Potential For Intoxication

But, with the new Traffic-Light Coalition intent on a complete overhaul of the country’s approach to cannabis, he is hopeful new legislation will stymie these actions.

Kai-Friedrich Niermann told BusinessCann: “In 2021 the expert commission at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM), on behalf of the last Government concluded that produces derived from low-THC industrial hemp had no potential for intoxication.

“Yet the last Government consistently refused to acknowledge these findings and the courts have therefore erred on the side of caution and prohibition.

“The findings and proposals of the expert commission have now been accepted by the new Government and could be adopted immediately. They are currently being discussed in Bundestag in Berlin.”

No Changes Until 2023?

However, with the situation in Ukraine prompting the new Government into a significant overhaul of its energy and defence policies it may take some time for the adult-use bill and hemp amendments to make their way through Parliament.

Mr Niermann added: “Theoretically, implementation of the amendments concerning hemp products could be quick. Realistically, however, it will take until the summer recess of parliament. 

“In the worst case, everything will only be decided together with the new cannabis legislation, perhaps at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023.” 

As BusinessCann reported last September Mr Niermann represented two German business at the Administrative Court of Braunschweig.

One of the two, Hanf Farm, was looking to remove restrictions in relation to the import of CBD flowers from Belgium and the second company, Hempro International, likewise, appealed against restrictions on its import of hemp tea.

Goods Destroyed With No Compensation

Despite using the KanaVape judgement as grounds for their appeals the court dismissed them and they have now been taken to the Higher Administrative Court of Lower Saxony.

Mr Niermann said: “In our opinion, there is no danger to the health of the population from commercial hemp. Even the expert committee at the BfArM, which advises the federal government on amendments to the Narcotics Act, recommended in March of last year that the element of abuse for intoxicating purposes be deleted.” 

The German Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW) has produced its own research demonstrating that it is practically impossible for industrial hemp to be misused for intoxication purposes – and it is calling for swift measures to halt these prosecutions. 

Marijn Roersch van der Hoogte, departmental coordinator for industrial hemp and food at the BvCW,  said: ”After reading our paper, it should be clear that the numerous charges against small and medium-sized companies should now be dropped.”

Mt Niermann added: “I am processing about 15  criminal cases against dealers of CBD and hemp leaf tea. I estimate there will be several hundred similar cases throughout the country, in addition to the 185.000 preliminary criminal proceedings against recreational users.”

With law enforcement against the industry set to continue until the new laws come into force, businesses face having their goods confiscated and destroyed, with no recourse to damages, he added.

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