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Is The German SPD Parliamentary Group Against Legalization?

Germany Bundestag Parliament

The ongoing legalization saga in Germany often feels like something out of a soap opera. Since the summer of 2021, when the current governing coalition was elected in Germany, the push for legalization has experienced several ups and downs.

Between the summer of 2021 and October 2022, cannabis observers inside Germany and around the world watched with collectively held breath waiting for a legalization measure to be formally introduced. What was touted after the 2021 federal election was a robust, nationwide sales system similar to what is in place in Canada.

Several leaks surfaced in news coverage regarding what the legalization measure would include, along with various reactions from German lawmakers every time headlines were made. Many lawmakers expressed frustration with the process during that period.

In October 2021, the world finally got its first glimpse into a legalization measure largely championed by Germany’s Minister of Health Dr. Karl Lauterbach. Unfortunately, the measure that was described in a press conference held by Minister Lauterbach at the time was a rolled-back version of what many advocates had hoped for.

Minister Lauterbach described his measure as being multi-phased, with the first phase permitting personal cannabis cultivation, possession, and consumption, along with permitting noncommercial cannabis clubs to operate. It would also remove cannabis from the nation’s narcotics law.

A second phase, which would need to come later via a separate measure, would permit the launch of regional adult-use cannabis commerce pilot programs. Yet, before any of that was to be formally set in motion, Minister Lauterbach made it clear that he would first seek European Union approval of his plan before introducing it.

Minister Lauterbach eventually introduced his measure in 2023, with the measure receiving approval by Germany’s Federal Cabinet earlier this year. The measure also passed the Bundesrat, only to experience some turbulence in the Bundestag. Earlier this month the measure appeared to be dead for the year, then it was announced that a vote was expected, just for the vote to never actually happen.

Various media accounts surfaced this month blaming members of the SPD parliamentary group for the measure failing to receive a vote. Bundestag member Dr. Rolf Mützenich (SPD) was recently asked, “Dear Mr. Mützenich, are you worried about the citizens’ severe loss of trust in the SPD due to the repeated postponement of the vote on the CanG or does it not matter to you?”

Dr. Mützenich replied with, “The SPD parliamentary group continues to support the bill to decriminalize cannabis. It is regrettable that other reports spread a false impression – perhaps deliberately. The SPD has long campaigned for a liberal drug policy and failed to do so due to the Union under Chancellor Merkel.”

“We are now committed to ensuring that the law will, above all, take health protection into account; final discussions are still being held on this matter. The law is scheduled to be passed at the beginning of next year and, we intend, to come into force in April 2024 as planned.” Dr. Mützenich also stated.

The timeline offered up by Dr. Mützenich is in line with previous statements made this month by members of the Bundestag. Whether or not the timeline proves to be accurate is something that we will all have to wait and see.

As far as whether the SPD parliamentary group is for or against legalization in Germany, it appears that at the very least there are mixed opinions within the political party, but hopefully there is more support for policy modernization than there is for continued status quo-maintaining foot-dragging.