Yesterday’s leaked government proposal for recreational cannabis legalization in Germany gives us greater clarity on how far the ruling coalition are looking to push forward their progressive policies.
Although a clear signpost that the government is on the cusp of introducing widespread cannabis reforms, it should be noted that this information has made its way into the public domain via a leak, so cannot technically be viewed as ‘official’.
Moreover, being a draft copy of the legislative proposals, it is possible that some of the specifics will have been amended by the time the final copy of the bill is submitted to parliament for passing.
Before establishing a legal market for recreational cannabis, the German government will want to ensure they have the most robust policies in place, to avoid issues surfacing later down the line.
Possible sticking points from the cornerstone paper and questions that German law makers will need to debate over the coming weeks, include:
Will there be enough cultivation capacity in Germany to satisfy demand for recreational cannabis products?
As it stands, almost certainly not. Additionally, a reliance on domestically produced cannabis may lead to expensive German products for consumers. Law makers will need to weigh up whether it might be better to allow imports from countries that have lower production costs and wage pressures, to ensure that German customers aren’t priced out of legal cannabis products.
What safeguards will be in place to ensure supplies of medical cannabis are never diverted to the recreational markets, in potential situations where demand outstrips supply?
It is paramount that the protection of medical cannabis patients, and their ability to access medicine in a timely and consistent basis, is built into the final proposal of Germany’s cannabis reforms.
What are the right levels of taxation for cannabis products?
It is critical that Germany’s law makers get this part of the policy right. California has been widely unable to significantly reduce the size of the state’s illicit cannabis market, as a result of exorbitantly high taxes and a myriad of complex – and sometimes draconian – laws governing legal products. Germany will not want to follow suit here; cannabis reforms offer a unique opportunity to whittle away the illicit market and take money out of the hands of illegal enterprises.
Is a maximum THC level of 15% optimal? Will consumers continue to seek higher level THC products from the illicit market? Will a discrepancy between products 18-21 year olds can purchase, versus those available to people aged 21 and above, drive younger consumers to the illicit market?
As the cannabis market (both legal and illicit) has matured at breakneck speed over recent years, so have the products that have become widely available to consumers of the plant. Increasingly popular are flower products ranging from 20-30% THC, with concentrates and extracts often containing even higher levels of THC.
In this, although some speculate that cannabis reforms in Germany might be fast tracked through parliament, there is evidently much more for legislators to discuss – and policies to iron out – before the final bill is officially presented.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, stated optimistically in May that “the first legal joint” could be sold in Germany in 2023. Albeit music to the ears of many cannabis operators, some will tread with slightly more cautious optimism.
Speaking with the Professionally Cannabis Podcast earlier this year, Niklas Kouparanis, the Co-Founder & CEO of Bloomwell Group predicted that although legal sales might be possible in 2023, legislative hold ups and adequate preparation for the rollout of cannabis reforms across the country’s municipalities, might lead to delays until early 2024.
Regardless of the exact timeline, one thing seems almost certain – legal cannabis is coming to Germany.
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