On August 16, 2023, the German Federal Ministry of Health (Bundesministerium für Gesundheit, BMG) published a proposal for a Cannabis Act (Cannabisgesetz, CanG) that would regulate the cultivation and use of cannabis for nonmedical use. In particular, it would “allow private cultivation, communal noncommercial cultivation, and the controlled transfer of recreational cannabis to adults in cultivation associations for private consumption,” subject to certain limits. (Proposal at 1.) Cannabis cultivation, purchase, and possession by persons younger than 18 years would remain illegal. Commercial cultivation and distribution of recreational cannabis and its impact on health and youth protection, as well as on the black market, will be tested in regional and time-limited pilot programs at a later date and addressed in a separate legislative proposal. (Proposal at 2.)
Private Possession and Cultivation at Home
The proposed Cannabis Act would allow persons 18 years and older to possess up to 25 grams of cannabis for private consumption and up to three cannabis plants at their residence. (CanG § 2, para. 3, no. 1; § 3, paras. 1, 2.) They would be authorized to cultivate up to three cannabis plants at their residence, but would be prohibited from giving cannabis harvested from their own cultivation to third parties. (§ 9.)
Communal Cultivation in Cultivation Associations
Furthermore, people would be allowed to cultivate and receive cannabis in registered cultivation associations. (§ 11.) Associations would have to ensure that membership is limited to persons 18 years or older with a residence in Germany and that the associations impose a waiting time of three months before new members can cultivate or receive cannabis or propagation materials. (§ 11.) Membership would be limited to 500 persons, and people would not be able to join more than one association. (§ 16, para. 2.)
Each member 21 years or older would be allowed to receive 25 grams per day and 50 grams of cannabis per month for personal use. Members ages 18 to 21 years (adolescents) would be limited to 25 grams per day and 30 grams per month. In addition, adolescents would be allowed to receive only cannabis with a THC level of 10%. No such limitation would be placed on members 21 years or older. Members would be prohibited from giving cannabis to third parties. (§ 19.) In addition, members would be able to receive a maximum of seven seeds or five cuttings or a total of seven seeds or cuttings. (§ 20, para. 3.) Lastly, shipping and delivering cannabis and cannabis seeds and cuttings would be illegal. (§ 19, para. 4; § 20, para. 5.)
Members of cultivation associations would be obligated to actively support the communal cultivation. The associations would have the option to be supported by people holding “mini-jobs,” but no other payment would be allowed, either to members or third parties. (§ 17.)
Health and Youth Protection Measures
The act would prohibit the use of cannabis in close proximity to persons under the age of 18. In addition, use in public places would be prohibited in:
- Schools, on playgrounds, and in child and youth centers, as well as in a radius of 200 meters around their entrances.
- Publicly accessible sport facilities.
- Pedestrian zones between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
- On the property of cultivation associations and in a radius of 200 meters around their entrances.
Use on military bases of the German armed forces would always be prohibited. (§ 5.)
Persons who have cannabis or cannabis propagation materials at home would be obligated to take necessary measures to protect them from access by third parties, in particular children and youth, and ensure that neighbors are not unnecessarily bothered or disturbed by the private cultivation. (§ 10.)
In addition, all advertisements for and sponsoring of cannabis and cultivation associations would be strictly prohibited. (§ 6.)
Cultivation associations would be required to appoint a prevention representative, among other measures, to ensure that there is a plan in place to protect health and youth and prevent addiction. (§ 23.)
The proposal has been sent to the German Bundestag (parliament) for its consideration. The government aims for 2024 as a possible date of entry into force.
The publication of the proposed Cannabis Act fulfills one of the promises set out in the 2021 coalition agreement of the German government. However, uncertainties over the compatibility with European Union and international law, among other things, delayed the publication. The draft act has been criticized — for example, for not including any rules for driving under the influence and for allowed THC levels while driving, as well as for creating more work for the courts and weakening youth and health protection. Federal Minister for Agriculture Cem Özdemir, on the other hand, stated that the proposed act is “an important step toward a progressive and realistic drug policy. … The act achieves a balance between individual freedom and public prevention.”
Jenny Gesley, Law Library of Congress
August 28, 2023
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