Bundestag Holds First Debate On German Legalization Measure
A long-awaited initial legalization measure debate was finally held in Germany’s Bundestag earlier this week after a reading scheduled for earlier in the week was delayed. The initial reading was scheduled for Monday, however, it was rescheduled for Wednesday due to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
The process behind the measure currently being considered by members of the Bundestag essentially started after the dust settled on the 2021 German election. A new governing coalition was elected during that year, commonly referred to as the Traffic Light Coalition, and members of the coalition made it abundantly clear that they wished to pass a national legalization measure.
For over a year, Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach then worked behind the scenes to craft a measure for lawmakers to consider, incorporating feedback he reportedly received from the European Union. The European Union has consistently taken the position that national sales, such as what many lawmakers in Germany want, are prohibited in Europe.
Eventually, in October 2022, Minister Lauterbach finally provided public insight into some of the general provisions he planned to include in his measure. Below is Health Minister Lauterbach’s presentation in full (broadcast in German):
After the public presentation, Minister Lauterbach then further lobbied the European Union, and eventually formally introduced his legalization measure in Germany. It was approved by the Federal Cabinet and recently avoided being derailed by opponents in the Bundesrat.
It is widely expected that the measure will evolve from its current form, however, it’s unclear exactly how much evolution could occur.
Cannabis opponents in the Bundestag have tried to further the efforts of opponents in the Bundesrat by filing motions to prevent the legalization measure from proceeding, but as Minister Lauterbach pointed out on social media, opponents are short on viable alternatives:
Hier die Zusammenfassung der Cannabisdebatte. Was mir auffällt: von den Kritikern hatte kein einziger einen Gegenvorschlag. Es bliebe also alles beim alten. Mehr Konsum, toxische Ware, kaum Jugendschutz, Schwarzmarkt, Vorstrafen. Kurz: Weiter scheitern… https://t.co/WeEpnd7pSF
— Prof. Karl Lauterbach (@Karl_Lauterbach) October 18, 2023
If the measure does proceed in its current form, it would legalize personal cultivation, possession, and use by adults of legal age. The measure would also permit noncommercial cannabis clubs to launch in Germany, similar to what is being launched in Malta, but it’s expected to be on a much larger scale compared to what is reportedly planned in Malta.
The measure now heads to the committee stage for further debate. The Bundestag’s Health Committee is scheduled to review the measure on November 6th. A final reading of the measure is currently scheduled for November 16th.