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Germany’s Cannabis Act Amended: THC Limits for Drivers and Cultivation Regulations Updated

Reporting from Ben Stevens and Alex Khourdaji

The German Bundestag has voted to pass a string of amendments to its landmark cannabis act, just two months after it was officially implemented.

At 11pm last night (June 06), the German federal parliament (Bundestag) voted on a number of key adjustments to the law, one regarding THC limits for drivers, another giving states further scope to regulate cultivation associations, which are set to be launched in July.

Business of Cannabis reported earlier this week that two expert hearings had been held on the amendments, seeing an impassioned debate continue to rage over the future of Germany’s cannabis liberalisation project.

After promising the Federal states more control in a ‘protocol statement’ in a last ditch effort to push CanG over the finish line, the bill architect, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, has now made good on his promise.

Driving and THC

Last night, the Bundestag voted to pass an amendment to the Road Traffic Act, raising the limit on the amount of THC allowed in a driver’s blood.

Under the new regulation, the limit will be raised from 1ng/ml to 3.5ng/ml of blood serum, a threshold determined by recommendations from an expert commission of the Ministry of Transport.

While some have suggested this limit still remains too low, it brings the limit more in line with the limits placed on driving under the influence of alcohol.

This will encompass all methods of cannabis consumption, including smoking, edibles, oils and drinks, but excludes THC which ‘comes from the intended use of a drug prescribed for a specific illness’.

Exceeding this limit for first time offenders will carry a potential penalty of a one month driving ban and a €500 fine.

Furthermore, it will now be a new offence to consume any alcohol once the 3.5ng/ml THC limit has been exceeded and getting behind the wheel.

Doing so could land drivers with a fine of €1000, and new drivers under the age of 21 will have a two-year probationary ban on consuming THC.

Saliva tests will be used as a preliminary test to detect consumption of cannabis, but if a driver shows any signs of impairment, they can be required to conduct a blood test, even after a negative saliva test.

Dr. Kirsten Kappert-Gonther of Alliance 90 and The Greens told MPs: “It is wrong to criminalise cannabis and to promote alcohol everywhere.

“What isn’t allowed to happen, is criminalising people who are not driving under the influence. That is exactly what we are implementing here today.”

A motion by the Union faction seeking to prevent the rise in THC limits when driving was rejected by MPs, much to the dismay of the amendment’s opponents.

Dirk Brandes of the AFD said during the vote: “How unsafe do you want to make the lives of German citizens? Seriously, aren’t enough problems troubling Germany with your irresponsible attitude towards rapists and knife Jihadis in this country.”

“It starts with driving stoned/high and, in the worst possibility, ends with Islamic terror attacks in Mannheim.”

Cultivation associations

Changes were also waved through regarding the already complex regulation of the upcoming cultivation associations.

An amendment to the Cannabis Act will now give the Federal States the option to refuse permits if cultivation areas or greenhouses are in close proximity to other associations.

This is designed to give states more discretion to prevent the emergence of ‘large scale cultivation areas’.

The SPD’s Dirk Heidenblut said during the final reading: “One of the main reasons, cannabis legalisation could occur in the country was the protocol statement in which the coalition promised concerned federal states to come up with a solution for their matters.”

“We are giving federal states the flexibility in matters that they need, and another aspect that I find important is that we are also helping states with aid for prevention and addiction training.

“I find it essential that Cannabis Social Clubs start operating, thus, I hope that the federal states also see that and that they use their flexibility carefully. If they decide to halt these operations, then you are limiting access to legal cannabis, which will damage youth, prevention and access to controlled, safe and tested cannabis.”

Meanwhile, a ban on allowing commercial providers from offering more than one service will also be enforced in order to limit commercial opportunities for ancillary businesses.

However, a last minute amendment was adopted by the Health Committee, which removes a ban on paid employees of the cultivation associations carrying out various activities not directly related to ‘collective cultivation or distribution of cannabis’ in an effort to reduce organisational efforts.

Cannabis Europa is set to bring over 1000 influential leaders from the world’s largest cannabis companies to London on June 25-26, where the latest developments in regulation and research will be discussed in detail. Get your tickets here now. 

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