Is Weed legal in Germany?
“Das Gras,” the German word for weed, has undergone some legislative changes in recent years. German marijuana laws were modified on March 10, 2017, when the country legalized the prescription of cannabis to seriously ill patients even if other treatment options are available. The German government decided to move one step forward and be one of the first countries European Union to fully legalize medical marijuana. An amendment to the Narcotics Drugs Act(Betäubungsmittelgesetz) enacted the change, which also includes covering the cost of treatment through patients’ health insurance. Legalization of medical use is the first movement on cannabis since a 1994 court ruling that shifted enforcement away from criminal penalties provided the amount held is “small,” as specified by individual German states.
Is CBD legal in Germany?
Buying CBD is legal in Germany, as long as the product contains less than 0.2% THC content. Unfortunately, the Novel Food Regulation prohibits the sale of CBD edibles, but you can still choose from a long list of CBD products.
Medical Marijuana in Germany
Since 2017, under German law, every doctor is permitted to prescribe cannabis-based drugs, including cannabis flowers, extracts, and individual cannabinoids for various ailments, ranging from minor ones such as migraines to more serious ones like relief from chemotherapy for Cancer and Chronic Pain.
A district court judge has challenged the constitutionality of Germany’s anti-marijuana laws. Judge Andreas Müller, of Bernau district (near Berlin), defended his conclusion in 141-page submission order. Judge Müller’s brief came in response to the case of a young engineering student, arrested in Berlin for purchasing 2.6 grams of cannabis resin. Due to the suspect’s prior record, the prosecutor pushed for a 150 Euro fine; equal to about $160 USD.
No Blood, No Foul
To Judge Müller, this penalty was disproportionate to the crime’s presumed harm to society. In his brief, he argued that small quantities should go unpunished, because “moderate consumption” is relatively harmless. “Small” can mean different things in different German states. In rural, conservative Bavaria, it’s up to six grams. In urban, liberal Berlin, a small quantity can be as much as fifteen grams. What’s not a small quantity, however, is the number of German citizens who fall foul of cannabis laws. It is estimated that Germany has about 4 million marijuana users. German police report about 325,000 drug offenses per year. Approximately 3/4 of these are for cannabis possession or use.
Full Court Press on Anti-Cannabis Laws
Müller himself is a fairly unconventional judge. He talks freely of his own experiences with cannabis. In 2015, he published a book, Kiffen und Kriminalitat (Smoking and Crime), in which he makes the case for limited legalization. German newspaper Bild once called him the country’s toughest youth judge. He even made headlines once for banning neo-fascist juvenile delinquents from wearing combat boots.
The Opposition May Approach the Bench
But Germany’s more conservative parties oppose Müller’s pro-legalization perspective. The far-right Alternative For Germany (AfD) party, for example, stands firmly behind anti-cannabis laws. Less fiercely, Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrats (CDU) have also traditionally been skeptical toward legalization. On the unofficial cannabis counterculture holiday on April 20th, German Drug Commissioner Daniela Ludwig spoke to the public. “Smoking for fun will not become legal,” she stated plainly, deeply disappointing some Germans.
Left Lane To Liberalization
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Germany’s left-wing parties are more open to cannabis legalization. The Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Greens tend to oppose strict marijuana laws. These parties were instrumental in Germany’s 2017 decision to legalize medical cannabis. At the time, the CDU’s weak majority necessitated compromise with the left. Since then, the Christian Democrats’ commitment to anti-cannabis laws seems to have softened. CDU Spokesman Marian Wendt has even suggested that lifting the ban and regulating production and distribution would save Germany a great deal of enforcement money. The savings, he argued, could then be better spent on combatting the remaining illegal producers.
The Global Hempire Strikes Back
It’s not just left and center-right politicians putting pressure on Germany’s cannabis ban. Market forces also seem to be accelerating the conversation. According to Reports and Data the global medical marijuana industry is currently worth about 12 billion USD. Furthermore, this number may increase to as much as 150 billion by 2026. And legal marijuana is no less a growth industry. Market-savvy Germans can see that cannabis consumption is rising, especially among the young. How long before the scales tip?
Europe’s Green Future
Germany’s powerful economy drives the European Union. Without an army, German security, and by extension EU security, depends on German economic power. That economic power, in turn, comes partly from decisive responses to market trends. The same Reports and Data article suggests that Europe may comprise nearly 1/3 of the global medical marijuana market by 2026. Germany is predicted to become the largest market in Europe. As such, economics may eventually drive Germans of diverse political backgrounds to support decriminalization. Russia on the other hand is being very difficult to legalize cannabis but somehow Kannaway got its license to import CBD products.
Law of the Land
Judge Müller’s brief will now be reviewed by Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court. Müller argues that decriminalization in Portugal, Canada, and the US has not stopped law enforcement from protecting minors in those countries. He further describes Germany’s legal distinction between alcohol and cannabis, both of which are intoxicants, as “highly arbitrary.” But with Drug Commissioner Ludwig having made her opposition clear, only the Federal Constitutional Court now has the power to decriminalize. But even if courts uphold the cannabis ban as constitutional, it seems certain the debate will continue. And with Germany’s 2021 elections just around the corner, the end of anti-cannabis laws in Europe’s most powerful economy remains very real.
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