Germany Approves a Limited Recreational Cannabis Legalization Plan

Germany Approves a Limited Recreational Cannabis Legalization Plan

Lawmakers adopted a bill to end prohibition and allow adults to possess cannabis and cultivate up to three marijuana plants in their homes.



Despite being viewed as the more progressive-minded continent compared to its North American counterparts, Europe has been relatively slow to enact cannabis legalization reform. However, with the passage of a new recreational marijuana statute last week, Germany has become the third European nation, after Malta and Switzerland, to legalize adult-use cannabis for adults over 18.


According to multiple media outlets, the Bundesrat, Germany’s legislative chamber representing the country’s 16 federal states, passed the groundbreaking legislation last Friday, which, along with allowing adults to possess cannabis and grow up to three plants in their homes, also provides for the establishment of cannabis clubs throughout the country.


The limited legalization measure, known as CanG, was passed by the second chamber of the German parliament, the Bundestag, late last month. Under the new law, adults over 18 will be permitted to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis and store up to 50 grams of marijuana at home starting April 1.


In addition, beginning July 1, the new plan will allow for the establishment of non-commercial cannabis clubs, where members will be granted access to legally cultivated marijuana. Each club will only be allowed to have up to 500 members. Likewise, the legalization measure does not include provisions enabling for-profit adult-use cannabis producers and retailers to conduct business.


“The fight was worth it. Please use the new option responsibly. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the black market today,” Health Minister Karl Lauterbach wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, according to a translation from Politico. 


"The fight was worth it. Please use the new option responsibly. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for the black market today."

- German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach


Before Friday’s vote, there had been some concerns raised by leaders of more than a few federal states regarding an amnesty provision in the law requiring judicial review of tens of thousands of past cannabis-related cases. Moreover, other lawmakers were critical of the maximum marijuana possession amount for being too high and also demanded the creation of weed prohibition zones near schools and kindergartens.


To voice their concerns and reservations, leaders from several states called for a mediation committee to resolve the disputes. Had such a meeting been convened, the legalization plan would have been delayed for at least six more months. However, the motion to convene did not garner the requisite votes, allowing the Bundesrat to vote on and approve the reform measure.


Industry advocates and stakeholders in Germany hailed the bill’s passage as a historic moment for Europe’s most populous nation. Niklas Kouparanis, the CEO and co-founder of Frankfurt-based medical cannabis company Bloomwell Group, believes that the legalization of recreational cannabis could also have a profound impact on the country’s existing medical marijuana market.


With only around an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 current medicinal cannabis patients, Kouparanis states that number will likely balloon to as much as ten times that amount when reclassification goes into effect.


“While it will probably take some time before the first licensed clubs – permitted under the new law – produce significant amounts of recreational cannabis, the CanG is the best news for the German medical cannabis industry since the ‘Cannabis as Medicine’ law passed in March 2017,” Kouparanis wrote in a statement.


"While it will probably take some time before the first licensed clubs – permitted under the new law – produce significant amounts of recreational cannabis, the CanG is the best news for the German medical cannabis industry since the ‘Cannabis as Medicine’ law passed in March 2017."

- Niklas Kouparanis, the CEO and co-founder of the Bloomwell Group


Because the new law changes medical marijuana’s official status from a narcotic to a legally prescribable drug, Kouparanis predicts more and more physicians will be able to write prescriptions for the plant medicine for thousands and thousands of more patients.


“Starting April 1, medical cannabis will no longer be classified as a narcotic and can now be prescribed by physicians as a completely ‘normal’ Rx, such as antibiotics or high-dose ibuprofen. This reclassification significantly reduces costs and other administrative burdens to access–from cultivation to further processing and distribution, to storage to dispensing in the pharmacy,” Kouparanis explained.


"Starting April 1, medical cannabis will no longer be classified as a narcotic and can now be prescribed by physicians as a completely ‘normal’ Rx, such as antibiotics or high-dose ibuprofen. This reclassification significantly reduces costs and other administrative burdens to access–from cultivation to further processing and distribution, to storage to dispensing in the pharmacy."

- Niklas Kouparanis, the CEO and co-founder of the Bloomwell Group


However, this new bill is just the first part of a much broader plan culminating in recreational sales via licensed for-profit retail dispensaries. The limited legalization portion is just the “first pillar” of Germany’s cannabis policy reforms. Once the decriminalization plan goes into full effect, the “second pillar,” comprised of five-year municipal pilot programs monitoring the sale of state-regulated cannabis at licensed retailers, will begin.


If the German approach is successful, it could provide a template for other European nations considering the implementation of their own cannabis legalization reforms, which in turn could lead to the establishment of a global marketplace for the legal cultivation, manufacture, and sale of marijuana worldwide.