A NUMBER of key changes appear to have been made to Germany’s draft adult-use cannabis legalisation proposals after the Health Minister’s ‘key points’ paper was leaked to the press last week.
The 12-page key proposals paper has now been submitted to the country’s Federal Cabinet, providing much greater detail on a number of key issues while appearing to amend others.
Its referral to the Federal Cabinet today has been described as an ‘intermediate step’, but further changes are expected as the bill undergoes the legislative process.
Below is a brief summary of some of the most notable changes and clarifications compared with last week’s leak. BusinessCann will be providing a deeper analysis of the document in the near future.
Some of the most notable discrepancies between the full report and last week’s leak were in regards to consumer protection.
It was suggested last week that the purchase and possession of up to 20 grams of cannabis would ‘in principle’ be exempt from punishment for anyone over the age of 18, regardless of its origin or THC content.
Now it is understood that the purchase and possession ‘up to a maximum of 20 to 30 grams of recreational cannabis’ for personal consumption will be allowed, suggesting the limit could be significantly higher than previously thought.
Elsewhere, it appears proposals to limit THC content to 15% for all consumers over the age of 21, and 10% THC for those aged between 18 and 21, have been scrapped.
This cap was one of the most contentious parts of last week’s leak, and some have suggested changes have been made due to the backlash, though this is not confirmed.
A number of experts have expressed their concern that this threshold is far too low and would fly in the face of Germany’s repeated ambitions to ‘curb organised crime and the black market’ by encouraging consumers to seek out illegal products with higher concentrations.
However, the proposals state that an upper limit for THC for adults under 21 ‘is being examined’ because of the increased risk of brain damage.
Furthermore, the cultivation, purchase and possession of recreational cannabis will remain illegal for those under 18, while both minors and adults who sell cannabis without a licence or flaunt the cultivation and possession caps could face up to three years in prison and a fine.
Investigations and criminal proceedings for ‘actions that are no longer criminal’ will also be cancelled as soon as the new regulation comes into force.
It is understood that ‘three female flowering plants per adult person’ will be allowed under the current proposals, up from two reported in last week’s leak.
Prohibition Partners’ Industry and Data Analyst Conor O’Brien previously suggested that ‘allowing people to grow their own cannabis at home would plug some of the gap in supply’ expected if Germany is to ban imports.
However, others have warned that this risks creating a thriving ‘grey market’ of unregulated home-grown cannabis, especially if home growing is allowed before a fully fledged consumer market emerges.
While changes appear to have been made to the controversial 15% THC cap, the proposals suggest the Government is ploughing ahead with its decision to ban importation of adult-use cannabis due to international legal considerations.
Sanity Group, one of Germany’s most prominent cannabis players, today publicly criticised this policy.
Its CEO, Finn Hänsel, said in a statement: “National demand cannot be covered by German production alone. Production in Germany is also expensive and very energy-intensive, which will affect the sales price. From our point of view, imports from EU and non-EU countries must therefore be made possible in order to meet demand and push back the illegal market – especially immediately after implementation of legalisation.”
According to the document, ‘appropriate criteria for production are being developed for high-quality cultivation in compliance with the federal government’s sustainability goals’.
This will reportedly include indoor cultivation under artificial light and cultivation in greenhouses, both of which will be ‘permitted forms of cultivation in order to ensure appropriate quality control’.
“The entire supply and trade chain (cultivation, processing, transport, wholesale, retail) must be subject to a control system (track and trace) that includes documentation of the individual steps in the chain,” the report reads.
Each element of the supply chain will also reportedly require its own licence, which will be paid for and administered either federally or by the state.
Last week’s leak suggested for the first time that pharmacies across Germany could sell adult-use cannabis, which would significantly increase the availability of cannabis across the country, a move thought to be vital in deterring black-market sales.
The full report confirms this, stating that ‘it might make sense to use both specialty stores as well as allowing sales in pharmacies’.
However, according to The Rheinischer Post, which first reported the news, many German pharmacy owners who already sell medical cannabis are opposed to also selling adult-use cannabis.
Head of the North Rhine Association of Pharmacists Thomas Preis said: “Pharmacists are healthcare professionals. A possible competitive situation with purely commercial providers is viewed particularly critically.
“We have had a lot of experience with distributing cannabis since 2017. However, we treat patients for therapeutic reasons in accordance with a doctor’s prescription. Numerous pharmacies are currently still refusing to go two ways and also to sell cannabis for recreational purposes.”