Cannabis advocates in Germany have seen their hopes for legalization dashed and divided after the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, rejected an all-encompassing bill on October 30, 2020.
Had it passed, the bill would have legalized a “strictly controlled” adult-use cannabis market.
Lobbyists and advocacy groups in Germany, which boasts the largest medical cannabis market in Europe, have been progressively pushing in the direction of cannabis reform. Unfortunately, the recent dismissal of a recreational cannabis market serves as a massive blow to the country’s reform efforts.
Many people will be surprised at the governmental body’s decision, with the vast majority of Bundestag members supporting at least some level of cannabis reform in Germany. Nonetheless, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right, Christian-democratic political alliance – the Union – does not approve of any liberalization pertaining to cannabis in the EU country.
Germany’s Cannabis Reform Efforts Unlikely to Prevail During this Legislative Period
A lack of votes from Germany’s reigning coalition parties Union and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), means cannabis legalization unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. This is a stark contrast from what Canadian cannabis executives have been anticipating, many of which have felt confident that pot stocks will take a hike up north during the legislative period.
While many opposing political parties don’t agree with current ideas regarding cannabis legalization in Germany, many are keen on enacting some form of legalization. Nonetheless, discussions regarding the best way to accomplish reform are ongoing. The SPD remains firm on its stance that reform should, in some way, be enacted. Preferably, experimental pilot programs will lead the way for any aspect of reform to be brought to light
“Coalition discipline” was the primary reason why the SPD’s efforts were rejected. The bill was turned down by the largest political alliance in parliament – the Union – due to the fact that members are in firm opposition to recreational cannabis reform. In regard to opposing parties, Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) was the only opposing party that voted against the bill’s passing.
The Free Democratic Party (FDP) refrained from participating in the voting process, despite the fact that a bulk of this liberal political party have frequently aired their support for legalization. Other Proposals for Cannabis Reform Dismissed by German Federal Parliament In addition to the cannabis legalization initiative that was rejected by the German federal parliament, a number of cannabis-related initiatives introduced by opposing parties were also rejected.
They included the following:
- The Left wanted to decriminalize up to 15 grams of cannabis for possession;
- The AFD pushed to treat medical cannabis products like other forms of medicine in regards to its efficacy — a measure that was rejected;
- The FDP wanted to permit recreational cannabis experiments;
- The FDP will drastically bolster the quality of medical cannabis cultivated in Germany;
- The Left wants to decriminalize possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis;
- The Left wants to allow a minute amount of THC in the blood when driving; proportional to the level of alcohol currently allowed among German drivers.
Six Political Parties in Germany Have Roadblocked Cannabis Legalization Six main political parties in Germany hold a major influence over the legalization of cannabis in the European country.
They are as follows:
- The Left – Possessing 69 seats in parliament, The Left voted in favor of Germany’s legal cannabis initiative.
- Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) – Maintaining 152 seats in parliament, this popular party is in favor of cannabis reform in Germany.
- The Greens – Despite holding fewer seats in parliament (67) this party was the second to support legislation in Germany.
- The Union – This coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of Germany and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria voted in opposition of the bill. The party maintains immense power over the EU country’s cannabis laws, what with The Union holding 246 seats in parliament.
- Free Democratic Party (FDP) – Despite introducing proposals to legalize cannabis in Germany, the FDP (composed of 80 governmental members) voted against recreational legalization in Germany.
- Alternative for Germany (AFD) – Treating cannabis on the same level as alternative medicines is essential for determining the success of such treatments, say members of the AFD. The party opposed the bill.
At the beginning of 2020, SPD members demonstrated interest in legalizing cannabis for recreational purposes. “We see the regulated distribution of cannabis to adults in Germany as a good chance for a successful policy, ideally supported by simultaneous strengthening prevention and early intervention as well as counseling and treatment,” reads an excerpt from a paper published by members of the SPD members earlier in the year. Unfortunately, CSU member Daniela Ludwig CSU was in disagreement with the statement and lashed out at messages regarding the legislation on Twitter.
Activists Continue to Push for Cannabis Legalization in Germany Efforts to change Germany’s cannabis laws remain strong.
Each year, thousands of people descend upon the city of Berlin for the Hanfparade — a German-wide pro-Cannabis March. Furthermore, in 2019 a German cannabis-legalization lobby group known as the German Hemp Federation (GHF) launched a “justice offensive” with the sole purpose of encouraging the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) to declare laws against cannabis as unconstitutional.
Way back in June 2013, “A Few Autonomous Flower Children” – the name that represents a group of daring cannabis advocates – sprinkled several kilograms of cannabis seeds across the university town of Göttingen. Plus, in September of this year, a Berlin-based cannabinoid product manufacturer called Sanity Group teamed up with Düsseldorf-headquartered Cannacare Health to form a Pro-CBD association.
Since cannabis is the most frequently used illicit drug in the European Union, a target market clearly exists; one that could be tapped into for exponential economic gains.
This was made clear when a report issued by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in June 2020 claimed that 60% of survey respondents had used cannabis within the last 30 months. The agency determined that “occasional users” stopped or reduced their cannabis consumption amid the lockdown, but more frequent consumers “increased their consumption,” admitting that it helped to ease anxiety and boredom.
As advocates continue to spread awareness about the prospective benefits of cannabis legalization in Germany, we can expect to see further amendments to potency laws in the future.
Written and Published By Bethan Bee Rose In Weed World Magazine Issue 149
Image: Adobe Stock, Megan Forbes