Germany’s scaled-back cannabis law still faces EU hurdles

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Germany’s cannabis ambitions could still be partially incompatible with European Union law, even though Berlin significantly scaled back the initiative, according to the country’s parliamentary research unit.

In particular, the research body noted, Germany’s plan for cannabis clubs would be “complicated” in terms of EU law because members would be consuming recreational cannabis they did not grow themselves, according to the Brussels-based Euractiv news outlet.

After first unveiling a blueprint for recreational cannabis legalization in October 2022, Germany’s draft framework was then sent to the European Commission – the EU’s executive branch – for vetting to ensure its compatibility with EU and global drug laws.

However, that process did not go according to plan for the German government, which then backpedaled on its blueprint.

Germany stripped almost all commercial elements from the law in the new plan, instead presenting a two-pillar approach:

  • Nonprofit associations would be allowed to jointly cultivate cannabis for adult-use purposes and distribute it to members for consumption.
  • Regional pilot projects with commercial supply chains would be rolled out.

The parliamentary research unit now suggests that even those limited ambitions might run afoul of EU rules.

Euractiv quoted a European Commission spokesperson who said EU law requires member countries to ensure that activities linked to trafficking in illegal drugs are punishable, including cannabis.

Germany published the draft law for the first pillar of its cannabis legalization process in July.

It’s unclear if the assessment by the parliamentary research unit will have any impact on the timing of that law, which is expected to reach the federal Cabinet for approval this month.

The German Bundestag – the country’s parliament – will take up the law in autumn.